Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This Con Is Going To The Dogs


Without the doubt the most rewarding experiences from MONSTER-MANIA CON XXX centered around ADAM GREEN.  I had been a big fan of his film FROZEN, which if you haven't seen it you owe it to yourself to do so.  Four years ago at MMCON 17 we had FROZEN'S EMMA BELL as a guest back when autographs from stars of THE WALKING DEAD cost less than a week's worth of groceries and we added FROZEN to the film list as I always enjoy possibly exposing good films to fans who may not yet have seen them.  ADAM had gone on to do the HATCHET film series as well as two season of HOLISTON for which he is probably more recognizable to horror film fans. One of the fun things about adding FROZEN to the film list of MMCON XXX was knowing that most likely some fans unfamiliar with the ADAM GREEN film were probably wondering what the hell a Disney film was doing on the MM CON film list.

The email came in from ADAM'S company that he was wrapping up a tour promoting his latest film DIGGING UP THE MARROW and that he was interested in finally attending MM.  I had tried to get ADAM a few times in the past but the timing was never right so I was thrilled to be contacted by him.  I had followed his great success on the horror film convention circuit and was particularly impressed that he is the epitome of fan friendly.  In a time where costs of autograph prices have taken a very ugly and quite frankly greedy turn, it was extremely impressive to learn that ADAM doesn't charge fans for his autograph at all.  I immediately responded that we would be more than happy to add him to the show and offered to help promote DIGGING UP THE MARROW by adding a banner to the MM website.  As he was wrapping up the promotional tour which had him skipping around the country night after night, ADAM was looking to appear on Friday and Saturday and had intended to finally head home on Sunday.

As his assistant and I started working out the details of his stay at MM, I mentioned that ADAM may be interested in sticking around on Sunday because of our CELEBRITY AUCTION FOR THE SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE.  Like myself, I knew ADAM was a devoted owner of a Yorkie which was named after his assistant.  Amusingly, when I was first contacted by his assistant I was already aware that his dog was named Arwen so when I started receiving emails from Arwen on ADAM'S behalf I wondered if he had either somehow mastered the art of teaching his Yorkie to send emails or if he was emailing me under a pseudonym.  It wasn't until talking with him at the show that I learned he had named his pet after his assistant.   Once I sent the information to him about the auction ADAM immediately wanted to be a part of it and changed his appearance schedule to not only attend the convention on Sunday but he wanted to be a part of it. 

In a relatively short period of time I was now communicating back and forth with ADAM and he was totally dedicated to helping the Yorkie Rescue.  To my surprise he decided to auction off a private dinner with him to the highest bidder.  In no time we were promoting the event on MM's social media avenues and getting tremendous support from the horror community on Facebook and Twitter.  The winning bidder won with a $600 bid which ADAM actually matched himself, already raising $1200 for the auction before it had even taken place. Having worked with the SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE for the past seven years I have always been impressed with their dedication to saving the lives of dogs who are truly in need of some love and kindness.  I first encountered Don and Marilyn when I adopted my boy Yogi and have been thrilled to offer an avenue to help raise funds to help them with their cause.  Adding the $1200 that ADAM had raised even before the auction began raised my hopes that we would surpass the record of over $5000 raised at one event for them.

But ADAM was not yet done.  I was stunned when I received an email from him informing me that he wanted to donate an actual screen used hatchet prop from HATCHET II.  Again we promoted this on the various social media outlets and we excitedly anticipated what such an item would raise to help the dogs.  Easily the most generous offer we've ever received for the Yorkies, I was particularly excited because first off it was sure to raise a generous donation for the rescue but it would also provide an exceptional opportunity for a fan to get a screen used prop directly from the director of the film.  Clearly this would become an unforgettable moment in Monster-Mania history.

And it did not disappoint.  It was now Sunday and time for the auction.  The day before ADAM had given one of the most heartfelt and inspiring Q&A with fans, explaining the path he had taken to beat the odds and become a director and explained the importance of the encouragement he had received from DEE SNIDER along the way.  Now he was about to act as auctioneer for the prop he was donating for the cause.  When it came time to put the hatchet up for bidding ADAM took the stage, taking over for our usual host Rob Dimension.  ADAM gave the history of the hatchet explaining that it had been used in a scene in HATCHET II where KANE HODDER in his role as VICTOR CROWLEY wields the prop to repeatedly strike his victim in the face.  ADAM explained that "when you hit someone in the face with a hatchet two or three times it's horror but when you hit them thirty times it's fuckin' hilarious."  The room erupted in laughter and applause and the bidding was now underway.   The bidding started out at about $100 I believe but it quickly began to escalate.  The room was electric and when the bidding hit $500 I watched as Marilyn from the rescue realized what was truly happening.  As the bidding continued everyone in the room could feel the positive vibe that they were part of.  The bidding went past $600, $700, $800.  And it was still going.  The room was buzzing.  People were genuinely excited to be witnessing what was going on and none of this escaped ADAM as he continued to act as auctioneer.  At points it was clear that he was becoming emotionally effected by what was going on and at times even lost the bidding increments as the event proceeded

The moment of truth was at hand.  As the bidding continued the one question now in everyone's mind was would it really hit $1000?  Advancing in increments of $25 it went to $975.  A few bidders were still in game and still had their hands raised at the $975 mark.  Incredulously the amount was now at $1000 and the moment was not lost on anyone, most of all ADAM GREEN.  The room erupted again as he emotionally called out the $1000 mark.  Many in the crowd rose in a standing ovation.  ADAM choked up a bit and the applause continued.  And the bidding continued.  Eventually the winning bid landed at $1200.  Singlehandedly ADAM GREEN had been responsible for raising $2400 for the rescue with his dinner donation and his donation of the HATCHET II prop. 

I have many memories from MONSTER-MANIA CON XXX.  It was fascinating to learn that TERMINATOR II's ROBERT PATRICK slept in his car as he struggled early in his acting career.  It was ironic to learn that SAW's TOBIN BELL realized that he was meant for a career in acting as a child when he feigned an illness and lay on a sewer grate.  He explained that it was then that he realized at the age of only seven that he could control the feelings of adults.  COSTAS MANDYLOR pointed out how that paralleled exactly what he had done in the first SAW film which was the film that launched his iconic horror film character JIGSAW.  It was especially rewarding seeing LIN SHAYE again as at her last appearance at MMCON she was appearing for her supporting roles in films such as NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and SNAKES ON A PLANE.  Now she had made the remarkable jump to being the lead character in the INSIDIOUS film series.  It's always a great feeling when I see the growing success of stars who have appeared at the show.  But of all the wonderful memories that I've come away with from MMCON XXX, by far the one that stands out above all is the generosity of ADAM GREEN to the fans and the Yorkie rescue.  MMCON was founded with the intention of paying tribute to my late father who was both a horror fan and an animal lover and the memory of what ADAM GREEN did fits in perfectly with what MMCON is truly intended to be all about.

Be sure to support ADAM GREEN at his official website and tune in to his popular podcast THE MOVIE CRYPT.

Saturday, March 28, 2015



So I first grew suspicious when I received the email from June Entertainment telling me that it might be easier if instead of sending $2500 via a traditional wire transfer, it might be easier for me to just make a wire deposit directly into their bank account.   My better intuition told me that something was just not right about this, but I had already reached an agreement with June Entertainment to bring DAVEIGH CHASE best known to horror fans as the character "SAMARA" from the American version  of THE RING to our March 2015 show and advertised her appearance on our Facebook page.  Without question the one thing I absolutely hate the most about being a horror convention promoter is when I have to share the disappointing news of a star's cancelation of their appearance at one of our shows.  Well actually that's the second thing I hate the most about being a promoter.  What I hate even more is when I have announced a guest, advertised their appearance and they fail to get on the plane and come to the show.  But I digress...

When I first went to book Daveigh Chase for the show, their agency sent me this email response:

" Hi Dave, Thanks for reaching out. Two things.... Would you be willing to pay half up front. We've been in these cases before and never got paid the money we were owed in our contract. Also would a rep be there to collect the money. Daveigh has some big TV and film projects coming up. Like HUGE and we don't want any snaps of her taking her own money and it's always a little awkward."

As we had agreed on an $8000 guarantee June Entertainment was asking me to send them $4000 before she even got on the plane to come to the show.  I responded that we don't do cash advances on guarantees because of the headaches of retrieving the money if the star has to cancel for one reason or another.  The excuse we always hear whenever a guest decides to cancel for any reason is always the tried and true "filming obligations" because it is always understood that despite having an appearance contract the actors main profession is acting and any type of acting job always will trump an autograph convention appearance.   Usually this happens about 2-3 weeks before the show when the promoter has to purchase the star's flights.  That's why you'll find the most guest cancelations for any show occur at this time.  Stars and their agents know that it's deadline time when they are now being asked to approve their flights for a show and they have to ensure their schedules are clear for the scheduled event.  

I mulled the offer over for a few days and then received this email which in hindsight is a prophecy but not as June Entertainment intended: "Hey buddy. Due to the fact it's a company we never worked with (no offense) we'd require half upfront, which is mutually beneficial because this allows Daveigh to spread the word via her fanbase and social media pages and also we could lock in our own tickets. Please understand she gets 7500 a day for most events. However she likes the autograph sessions with her fans cause there's always one amazing story but we will need this wired upon signature." 

I thought it over and declined the offer.  After turning down the $4000 advance idea I received this email. The spelling errors were in the email:"Can we meet jn te middle and Do 2500 deposit ? And you can book flights tomorrow. "

I mulled it over in my mind.  I was totally uncomfortable with the idea of paying any money in advance, after all I am already at risk when I purchase the flights for both the star and their agent, the star gets a food per diem, we schedule car service to pick up the star and their agent at the airport and drive them to the hotel and then return to the airport after the show and provide hotel rooms for multiple days for the star and the agent.  So basically, the financial risk is on the promoter.  With a guarantee in place, the worst that can happen is that the star will go home with only the amount of the guaranteed money after spending a weekend in a hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ having to listen to fans tell them how much they loved the star's work for three days.  All in all, not the worst weekend that I can think of.  On the other hand, I had the chance to book what I considered to be an iconic character from a modern horror classic that had never been to Monster-Mania Con before.  I checked out the June Entertainment's website and they appeared to be a legitimate management company boasting of a number of projects including THE PIRATES OF THE CARRBIEAN. 

So I bit. 

Then I received this email:  "Perfect send me the new agreement with in there and deposit upon execution and I'll sign tomorrow.  Thanks pal."

So all was good.  I sent the revised contract and had a contract sent back to me signed by John Ryan, the head of
June Entertainment.  I then went to work creating the banner that I do for guest announcements and announced Daveigh Chase as our latest guest on Facebook and Twitter and contacted our websmaster to add her to the website.  And, according to the latest email, I had a new pal.  All was good in the land of Monster-Mania.  Or so I thought...

After announcing Daveigh I received the email suggesting a wire deposit instead of the traditional wire transfer.  Something about this just rubbed me the wrong way and after running thirty plus conventions over the course of eleven years, I've learned to listen to my instinct.  Well, most of the time.  I went to the bank and completed the traditional wire transfer and waited for the info to book the two flights the next day as promised. 
And I waited...

And I waited...

Growing a bit concerned I sent an introductory email to June Entertainment and my travel agent hoping that would spur some action.  Info started trickling in.  We found out that the agent we were dealing with at June Entertainment was named Matthew Scarpelli and that he would be flying in with Daveigh to the show.  Joe my travel agent began a series of phone calls and emails with them and finally was able to nail down a flight that Daveigh had approved so he bought that.  But curiously they had requested only one flight.  I asked Joe why this was, as in the emails I had received from them, the rep from June Entertainment was flying in with her.  Joe spoke with them again and was told that the rep would be driving in as he was on the East Coast.  I said to Joe on the phone, "I think we're being scammed."  This was a week before the show.  I considered listing Daveigh Chase as "Tentative" on the website, Facebook and Twitter but I had nothing to warrant me doing so other than my own instinct.  After all, I had a signed contract, a flight purchased that Daveigh Chase's management told us she personally approved and was assured by June Entertainment that she would be appearing at the show. 

"I'm at the airport and I can't find Daveigh Chase."

That was the phone call I got at about 11:20PM the night before the show from the owner of the car service.  He explained that all of the other stars on that flight from Los Angeles were gathered together in the limo bus but that he could not find Daveigh Chase anywhere at the airport.  My heart started racing and I immediately began chastising myself for not following my own instinct and refusing to send the cash payment in advance.  I knew in my heart that she was not coming but I needed to make sure that she wasn't lost in the airport or perhaps met at the airport by her agent and driven to the hotel on their own.  I instructed the car service to look for her for another fifteen minutes while I made some desperate phone calls and email attempts to locate her.  I called and emailed June Entertainment and Matt Scarpelli but got no response.  I called the hotel to make sure Daveigh or her agent had not arrived on their own and checked in.  I asked the front desk to call me immediately if either of them checked in.  I sent more emails and made more calls but still no response.  Finally the car service called, said they searched for her for the last fifteen minutes and could not locate her.  The stars already gathered in the limo bus were tired, growing restless and wanted to get on their way to the hotel.  I made some lame joke about checking the television to see if she were crawling out of it that went over the driver's head.  I told him to bring the rest of the stars over to the hotel and my sleepless night was now under way.

After repeatedly calling the front desk and all the numbers that I had for June Entertainment, I received this email at 6:13AM:

"Hey Dave I'm so sorry I thought someone from the office would have contacted you. I was traveling when I received the call letting me know that Daveigh had missed her flight. I'm very sorry. I turned around and headed back. Then I went to sleep. Sorry, Matt"

At this point I realized my instincts were correct and that she wasn't coming but I had to do my due diligence and try to book her another flight if she truly did miss her flight.  I emailed Matt asking if she was going to book another flight and had our travel agent call and email to try to make that happen. 

At 1:43PM Friday Joe received this response.  It was the last email response either Joe or I would ever receive from Matt Scarpelli or anyone else at June Entertainment:
"Hey Joe I'm sorry I still haven't heard back from her.  I will let you know as soon as I hear fron her.  Matt"
By this point I had gone on Facebook and delivered the announcement that it looked doubtful that Daveigh Chase would be attending the show.  After the show I contacted Matt and June Entertainment repeatedly by phone and email for repayment of the wire transfer that we had paid.  I received no response.  I then contacted Larry Zerner who not only was the character Shelly in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III who was responsible for Jason Voorhees donning the now infamous goalie mask but is also a top notch entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles.  Larry called and spoke with Matt Scarpelli who assured him that he "was on top of it."  Nothing happened.  I called and my call went immediately to voicemail.  I sent more emails which have gone unanswered.  I called Matt again from someone else's phone and Matt picked up.  When I explained who I was the line went dead. 

Maybe there's bad reception down in that well....