One of the biggest conventions in the world, MegaCon, begins on Thursday the 26th of May, 2016 and continues through Sunday the 29th of May, 2016 in Orlando Florida at the International Convention Center and I (Marc Lee), have once again been offered a job as one of MegaCon’s infamous Celebrity Moderators.
Being a celebrity moderator for convention panels is a job I don’t take lightly and have always represented the organizers, of any convention I work, in the best possible light as one of it’s “Go-To” people.
Likewise, an understanding of the many different generations that I stand before during any given panel is paramount when I am on that stage, as you are not only relying on the interests and concerns of the corporation, but also providing entertainment to those amazing fans who have their own best wishes in mind for a great time while at MegaCon.
As a Show Host or Moderator, the fans know that it is not YOU they are their to see but rather the indivudal celebrity you are tasked to present. Once too much attention is brought on you during their talk, they tend to garner impatience as you have just stolen the limelight from the hero they are infact there to see, listen too, ask questions of and receive.
The audience is there for the celebrity and the beautiful and vivacious HAYELY ATWELL (Marvel’s Agent Carter), who is for instance just one of the more than fifteen celebrities I will be moderating for at MegaCon 2016; is there especially for the audience.
The rest of the celebrities I have the privilege to moderate and host at this year’s MegaCon are The Karate Kid’s Ralph Macchio & William Zabka as well as the legendary Father of all super heroes, Stan Lee on Thursday night.
On Friday I will host Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd, Doctor Who’s Billy Piper and a very special Hogwarts reunion with the entire attending cast of Harry Potter.
On Saturday I am really looking forward to presenting Marvel’s Agent Carter’s Haley Atwell as indicated above, along with the Iconic Hollywood actor John Cusack, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ming-Na Wen and comic book legend Frank Miller.
As if all of these incredible celebrities were not enough, on Sunday I have the honor of sitting down with the Bat-Tastic Dynamic Duo from the 1960’s themselves, Adam West and Burt Ward, Game of Thrones star Lena Headey, and finally Arrow’s Katie Cassidy.
WOW, I am tired already . . . just kidding. I CAN’T WAIT!!!
To be honest, I am always very nervous before taking the stage. It may not show but believe me, under my shirt and pants are the beatings of a speeding heart and the knocking of over-anxious knees. I’m always angry for being nervous but that anger disappears when I see people I know in the audience. People I know makes me perform better because it reminds me of my family and my family are a bunch of nuts. No shyness there and being where I am, seeing the faces of those I know and like, makes my job very easy. It calms me down. Yep. Friends in the audience have no idea what they do to make me perform my job well.
My three decades of hosting conventions has brought about a sustained humility that has been present since day one. I love fans. I love fandom and to be able to act as much of a geek to the folks I am sharing the stage with reminds me that I am there to perform a professional duty. I am a presenter and an interviewer. A person who can dig a little into the characters our guests portray and find a question no one has or will ask. It’s hard, complicated and sometimes needs to be on the money when it comes to the history of the guests, but with the help of the audience through their questions and comments, it makes me feel like a rock star rather than an idiot. The simple truth of the matter is that the audience is the ultimate fan and their knowledge ALWAYS trumps mine.
One of the skill sets I have nurtured over the years is the ability to recognize when a celebrity is a tiny bit uncomfortable with a question they may have just received. The responsibilities of a moderator is to first recognize that it is indeed uncomfortable and then deflect the offending issue with a bit of wit and humor to dilute the situation as quickly as they can. It’s all in the timing and I find myself very good at that as I have had those exact situations occur.
Last year at Dragon Con in Atlanta, I had the cast of THE FLASH onstgae and a question was asked that made one of the guests very uncomfortable. After a short pause and recognition of the tel tale signs for “help”, I proceeded to deflect only to have the guests interupt me with the courage to reply. Fans claim credit to an actor’s career and somethimes forget that actors need a bit of personal respect when meeting their fans. Actors are very capable of defending themselves but we as hosts, should attempt an intervention when at all possible and necessary.
Of all the hundreds of panels I have hosted, I’ve always solicted the fans beforehand, via Facebook or Twitter, on questions that should be asked. They always know more than I do about the celebrity at hand and I’m not doing this for the glory. I’m doing this because I also get to learn. I’ll see these actors again and I’ll be loaded with new information.
My biggest thrill out of any convention is the attendence of children. I can see through their eyes what I had forgotten and am again reminded of. Children have the greatest questions. Innocent yet embarrassing, but they have the greatest questions! I try to give them the spotlight when I can because it always helps the entertainment quota of any panel. I can’t wait to see them in cosplay.
MEGACON will be a monster this year! There will be conditions that the newcomers may not expect or be used to so I make sure that when they get to me, when they come to my room to relax, I entertain them and wipe away the exposure to the crowds and the lines and the heat they have just come away from. I try my best to bring back that smile that was lost for a short while, and remind them why they are here because fans deserve to be made happy.
MegaCon and in turn I as a representative of the Con, always strives to provide an environment of wonderment in a world they are familiar with but not totally versed in sharing with other people. I want to be there to see the look on their faces when relating a character to a real life person. Finding characteristics not seen on the small or big screen.
I want to be there throughout heir applause and their laughter and their final satisfaction to one hour of dealing with my face. My payment for what I do is the visual stimulation brought to me by your typical comic con convention attendee. I live for that and I love it! Nothing else comes close to that for me during a weekend such as the GREAT weekend almost upon us for MegaCon 2016.
See you at MEGACON, along with TAMPA BAY COMIC CON and DRAGON CON after that this coming August of 2016.