This article is a follow up to last week’s piece on Marc B. Lee, MegaCon’s Master of Ceremonies as SciFi Pulse’s Tye Bourdony, also asked Marc some follow up questions about not only his upcoming duties at MegaCon in 2015, but also his thoughts on moderating panels, favorite celebrities and thoughts on both MegaCon and his future convention work.
1. What is it about MegaCon that you think has made it the premier multi genre convention in Florida and what do you like best about it?
Out of all the big players that have emerged in this state, MEGACON is like a parent. It has taken on multiple genres such as comics and film and television and utilized it to the many tastes that have emerged. Star Trek fans can mingle with Star Wars fans (they’d disagree of course), Anime fans can mingle with Dr. Who fans, and guys like me can mingle with anybody. What I like best about it is the variations of all of these perfect storms, under one roof on any one day. A weekend solidarity of sorts.
2. How long have you been working with MegaCon?
That’s a good question. My bones say one thing but my memory is the worst. I would suspect that I have been with them six or seven years. Maybe less, maybe more.
3. How long have you been acting as Master of Ceremonies for conventions in general?
They threw me onstage, had me announce people, then told me to go home . . . lol. That was 30 years ago. (Ack!) I’ve been attending cons for 35. Since then, I have been mainly recommended by people to other organizations and some have kept me, one did not due to economics and many groups have no idea who I am, which is probably a good thing!?
My roots are with the fine folks in my hometown of Baltimore and a group known as Clippercon at the time. After a few renditions they are currently known as Farpoint and the absolute main reason of my inception. They birthed me and will deny that they know me but I know where many of them live and have planted remote controlled devices under their homes should they actively deny me ever again. In all seriousness though, they prepped me for what I know now.
4. To date what has been your best or favorite Q & A session you had the privilege to emcee?
That is and shall always be the most difficult question I could ever answer. I have so many experiences, some I could never put in print, and remembering them all is a bit challenging. Leonard Nimoy is probably a top if not final contender. Losing him and speaking on the phone with his rabbi soon after his memorial service, brought back a ton of memories including his first appearance at a con in Germany, of which I MC’d for close to two decades.
His hesitation, as a Jew, of going to a country that had did so much to his people, was a fascinating story that he ultimately shared onstage and previously to his rabbi who was responsible for him accepting the invitation. I held the microphone as he outstretched his arms in Vulcan salute, to an international crowd of thousands. This is where he described to them how he utilized this throughout his portrayal as Spock.
I have had quality time with this man and his wife and that experience seems to standout more so than others at this moment.
What can I say about Patrick Stewart? He is indeed a knight.
Another absolute favorite would be Jonathan Fakes. What a free-spirit, a performer, a gentleman who enjoys interaction with his fans and who is the same off the stage as he is on. He’s one of the “electric ones”, much like John Barrowman, true entertainers who remember why those folks are out there in those seats.
Another would be STAN LEE. My dad, as I call him. He likes to have questions repeated to his ear for obvious reasons. The guy’s 93! Anyway, along the questioning I started to pass them on as such:
Stan: “What did he say Marc?”
Marc: “He said why didn’t you create more Black superheroes (a lie on my part)
Stan: “I gave you Black Panther. What more do you want?”
The next few questions referred to the lack of Black superheroes as relayed by me and never asked by the fan. It was classic and eventually Stan caught on.
My time with many folks were golden moments and worthy of a book or two.
5. Who has been your favorite celebrity guest you hosted at a MegaCon panel?
JOHN BARROWMAN without a doubt! A bonifide nut who knows it, enjoys being one and not afraid to drop his pants; literally!
6. With respect to this MegaCon 2015, which panels are you most looking forward to?
Are you serious? Ron Perlman!
HELLBOY, ALIEN RESURRECTION, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ADVENTURE TIME, SONS OF ANARCHY, shall I go on?
7. What questions are you itching to ask Cary Elwes, Ron Perlman & Michael Rooker specifically? Are there any other actors who you have specific questions for personally?
I never intend on stealing the thunder from the audience but sometimes I do; the benefits of being the moderator. If I had to throw in one question for each of them, it would probably be:
Cary Elwes: How the hell did you get so good looking?!
Michael Rooker: How do you maintain your utter coolness and are you really a good whistler?
Ron Perlman: Do you consider yourself intimidating in a supermarket checkout line?
8. Can you elaborate and comment on the recent trend by conventions, much like MegaCon; to begin charging admission for some panels?
If actors and/or their representation leave a $10,000 a day film to make less at a con, they’ll go for what they can get. In the business world, you go for maximum yield. An “acceptable” maximum yield is determined by the fans. Supply and demand. If they pay it, they will come.
Do I like it? Of course not but I’m not the one counting my expenses. The actors know what they can/should/have to do to survive these days. I, in no way, think it’s a wrong move on their part but it would test my desire to see someone due to my own personal expense. Unless the desire or popularity die down or disappear completely, this trend will remain.
Well, it’s pretty simple to me and a bit disturbing at the same time. Money will be made if money CAN be made. Some would call it GREED. Others think it’s the fault of the con organizers. It ABSOLUTELY is not.
Actors HAVE to work and maintain their viability. When a job comes, the convention circuit gets put on hold. Remember, I said “hold”. They’ll re-sign if they are available but they didn’t ultimately rule a city out. They . . . Got . . . Work!
9. What is your favorite part of your Q & A sessions in general?
Kids! I love kids and what comes out of their mouths. The un-coached ones. Wetting my pants is not a personal preference of mine but it has occurred due to the questions from kids. I also like the celebs doing an impromptu performance while in their Q&A and many celebs have other talents besides acting and they love an audience:
Jonathan Frakes (TNG) played the trombone onstage in Germany.
Denise Crosby and I shared the same pair of boxers (long story)!
I dueled with Orli Shoshan, a Jedi of Star Wars fame.
Allyison Mack (Samllville) is an incredible jazz singer.
10. Do you ever prank the celebrities you host?
I’m a lipstick host. My LGBT friends will know what I mean. Not like Fallon but more like Letterman. I’m not into pranks. They could backfire on you as one did one year. Doubt I’d want that sort of press again. Would have been great had it executed properly but I did catch a bit of heat for it. I did, at a Walking Dead panel in New Orleans or Philly, prep the audience to get up and act like attacking walkers when the guest came out and they did so on my cue. That was cool.
11. How does one go about becoming a Master of Ceremony and did you know this was the road you were heading down all those Yearen ago? What are your plans moving forward within the industry and what conventions will you be working with in the future?
You need to first be a volunteer. Get on a con committee staff and remain loyal. You’ll get recognized for good work. It worked for me. It’s long and laborious yet rewarding.
Young people are very impatient. They want things now and for little effort. Not all, but enough. Fans are challenging too. They demand a guest to sign on and show up. When they cancel, it’s not the con’s fault unless it IS the con’s fault. As for my future, the annual cons like MEGACON and DRAGON CON know I exist and I do those shows. Past shows will use me if they reemerge.
Others have not discovered me yet. I’ve just been hired to be the MC for a major event in Daytona Beach around Halloween weekend. It will be a new direction in conventioneering unseen by most. I’m excited about it yet I think I undercharged them … lol.
12. How do you feel about MEGACON’s purchase by FAN EXPO.
FAN EXPO and their parent company are huge. They also bought Dallas Comic Con as well as a few cons in Canada. I mean I know of one other company I had worked for that had investors and a board of directors and a seemingly bottomless pit of funding. It’s a step in the right direction especially with the current powers that be at MEGACON maintaining their positions and possibly new ways of signing guests. Will they keep me? I have no idea. One could hope.
13. Lastly, what the hell ever happened to Saturday Morning cartoons anyway?
SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS are alive and well at my Friday panel. As for actually NOT being around anymore, I would say that it is a raping of America.
Thanks for the interview Tye. You’re a master at what you do. I won’t debate that. 😉
I would like to take a moment and likewise thank Marc B. Lee for agreeing to do this interview and for the great job he does for the fans as well as the celebrities and the conventions that pay him to do what he does so well after honing his skills for as long as he has.
Live Long and Prosper Marc, May the Force Be With you and May the Lords of Kobol watch after you at all of these many convention’s and their respective after parties!!! I would also like to thank him for being such a great guy and wish him luck not only at this year’s MegaCon, but for all those shows to come, as well as life in general.
Below can be found a tentative schedule for this year’s MegaCon panels that will be moderated by Marc, so be sure to mark them on your things to see list while at MegaCon and of course please look to the official convention calendar, just in case these panels change based on the demands of the show.
MEGACON MODERATING DUTIES
12:30-1:20 Saturday Morning Cartoons Rm 311EF
1:20-2:10 Milo Ventimiglia Q & A Room 205BC
2:20–3:20 Adventure Time with Jeremy Shada and Olivia Olson Valencia A-C
4:00–5:00 Cary Elwes Q & A Valencia A-C
6:00–7:00 Boondock Saints Q & A – Flanery, Collins, DellaRocca Valencia A-C
11:00-12p Mark Boone Junior and Ryan Hurst Q & A Valencia D
1:00-2:00 Ron Perlman Q & A Valencia A-C
3:00-4:00 DOCTOR WHO SPECIAL w/ Gillan, Darvill, Kingston Valencia A-C
5:00–6:00 Michael Rooker Q & A Valencia A-C
11:00 – 12:00 Firefly with Glau, Baldwin and Tudyk Rm 311EF
2:40p – 3:40p Dr Who Valencia A-C