Hollywood Xpo, or what’s Stan Lee and Buzz Aldrin doing at my hotel?

Talk to  the hand
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA–Set phasers for stun! That’s what it felt like to wander into the convention lobby at the Universal Hilton and discover it is the home this weekend of something called Hollywood Xpo.
The Hilton, parked next to Universal Studios, has been home to TCA press tours in the past and worked as a base of operations for my quick tour through a few of the studios in the Burbank area this week. I’d never heard of Hollywood Xpo, which runs today through Sunday at the Universal Hilton, but they have a crazy little line up of guest stars, 100 by their tally.

Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee will be comin’ ‘atcha Saturday. You can pay your US$30 and get wristbanded in to a Q&A session with Stan the Man. Several original Star Trek actors will also be beaming aboard, including Walter Koenig, who hosts something called “Stars Night Out” tonight. This deal includes 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, is also working Hollywood Xpo. A table full of her DVD was conveniently placed near the door of the dealer’s room.
No where near this thing: Shatner. He’s still working.
Because the original Trekkers are dropping off, even sons of Star Trek are boldly going to this thing. Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, son of the creator of the series and Majel Barett, is booked for the show.
There’s also something called “A Star Trek: Of Gods and Men” reunion. Koenig, Nichols and a few of the later Star Trek series stars, including Alan Ruck, Grace Lee Whitney and Tim Russ, also also beaming down. ST:THG dudes Jonathan Frakes and Michael Dorn are likewise in on the celebrity cash grab.

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

The list goes on: Billy Mumy, Mark Goddard and June Lockhart (Lost in Space) are here. There’s even a bunch of Ferris Bueller folk joining Ruck, including Edie McClurg and Cindy Pickett. For those with even longer memories, Stan Livingston (My Three Sons) was in the house.
Beyond the celebs, there are also tons of Q&As and panels scheduled, as well as photo ops and dealer goodies. There’s even a “Moster Mash” costume party and costume contest happening Saturday night.
I’ve trolled the Hollywood Collectors Shows that have been housed in the Valley several times over the past 15 years or so and this Hollywood Xpo list is quite comparable. In past Hollywood Collectors 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 Joes or Ralphs.

Money can’t be a problem for Stan Lee but quite a few of these folk 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 favourites, these shows will boldly go on for who knows when. One conventioneer seemed jazzed that Susan Olsen from The Brady Bunch was in the house. Jiminy–she didn’t even make that reunion show back in the ’70s.

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 today’s Heroes reunion Q&A session, where Jack Coleman and Nichols were also in attendance. There were about as many people in the cavernous banquet room as on the panel. That’s television: on minute you’re a Hero, the next you are signing autographs two tables over from Elvira and Buzz Aldrin. One small step away from celebrity, one giant leap into the Ballroom C of the Universal Hilton.

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