When the CW television network premiered the series, The Vampire Diaries on September 9, 2009, it quickly became the most viewed episode of any previous shows that had been telecast on the network. It was inevitable that the popular series about to begin its fourth year would naturally generate enough interest to have a convention dedicated to the series.
The question would be whom or what company could tackle this monumental property and package it as a convention. The Creation Entertainment company created by Gary Berman and Adam Malin had seen an opportunity and secured the rights to be the official convention venue for the show. The right amount of experience, enthusiasm and genuine fan love are the elements that probably convinced the CW network that Berman and Malin were the individuals to pull off a traveling convention that would highlight the show. According to the press release-Erin Ferries, VP of Creation Entertainment, said, “THE VAMPIRE DIARIES’ fans really lobbied us to be involved and we are excited to bring the cast to the first-ever Official THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Fan Convention. These conventions will allow attendees the opportunity to show off their THE VAMPIRE DIARIES–inspired artwork, costumes, filmmaking and music with thousands of fellow show enthusiasts. While offering fans the chance to interact with their favorite actors from the series, the conventions are equally about gathering with like-minded folks and forming friendships based on a common passion.”
The contract between Warner Brothers Consumer Products and Creation Entertainment kicked off on April 14th in Chicago, Illinois. The contract apparently calls for Creation to run the conventions annually for a span of three years. Does this mean that the series will be telecast for another three years at the least? Considering the CW network’s track record with genre shows-it is a fair bet that the vampire drama will last at least another three years.
The verdict? It is to this columnist’s great relief that the convention lives up to the press release and at many times-surpasses it. The convention touched down in the San Francisco bay area region of California on Saturday, July 28th and ran through to the 29th. The luxurious Hyatt Regency was the location for the convention.
Creation Entertainment has proven over its forty one years of existence that it can attract A-list talent that fans happily pay to see on stage and up close and personal in several instances over the weekend. The amazing group of stars from the show that attended were Ian Somerhalder(Damon Salvatore), Paul Wesley(Stefan Salvatore), Torrey DeVitto(Dr. Meredith Fell), Steven R. McQueen(Jeremy Gilbert), Daniel Gillies(Elijah), Nathaniel Buzolic(Kol), Michael Trevino(Tyler Lockwood) and Zach Roerig(Matt Donovan).
The convention officially opened its doors at noon on Saturday. It is immediate that one of the many factors that separates the Creation cons from other events is the relaxed pace of the convention. Most fans expect to sometimes run at conventions to catch panels, autographs or photo opportunities, but the Creation events are intentionally designed for fans to be able to pace themselves because of the generous breaks between panels. The first celebrity guest to appear was the only female celebrity guest, Torrey DeVitto. Most will recognize her from another television series entitled Pretty Little Liars. Another little known fact is that she is also actor, Paul Wesley’s wife.
A costume contest and a trivia game followed DeVitto’s appearance. One of the highlights of all Creation conventions is the auction. Wall size posters are usually popular and fans also get an opportunity to have the main talent sign these posters within the price of the final bid. The auction is made all that more entertaining because of co-owner, Gary Berman’s sometimes dry wit and amusing observations at fans bid against each other for whatever item they wished to secure.
The aforementioned pacing of the convention allows this pingroof.com columnist ample time to explore the dealer’s room in between panels. Creation Entertainment was also able to secure merchandise licensing and various items in the dealer’s room clearly demonstrated this fact. Fans could choose from mugs, t-shirts, games, photographs and posters. Independent dealers were also represented. There were two that immediately grabbed an individual as they walked by. “CopyKittenDresses” proved to be popular with its remarkable recreations of fashions made to order replicating popular styles seen on The Vampire Diaries among other shows. An interview with staff members and owners, Angie, Jennifer, Rachael will be published in a future article. Another noteworthy vendor was a company called “The Pumpkin Geek”. Owner, Alex Wer is an amazing artist who captures celebrity likenesses on false pumpkins that are simply startling.
It is fair to say that the almost all female attendees were nervously waiting for the appearance of the two main male stars of the show. It is close to five in the afternoon that this columnist notices a distinct difference between this fan base and others. The audience consists of women mainly in their twenties and up. They are a vocal, friendly and surprisingly aggressive group of women whom at many times seemed ready to rush the stage many times. Amusing comments could clearly be heard like, “take it off” and “I’m your girlfriend” added an atmosphere of being caught in the middle of male revue. It was an intriguing element of energy that the actors seemed to thrive on as they would respond with slyly bawdy responses!
Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley and Steven R. McQueen took the stage buoyed by screams and comments like, “he’s so fine and “oh my God!” Quickly settling in their director’s high chairs that the Creation group loves to provide for on stage appearances, the three stars rapidly charmed everyone present. Fans absorbed every word and stories the trio had recalled. Although they are indeed actors, the trio seemed genuinely flattered and pleased with the fans. It appeared that they were not acting as they took the time on more than one occasion during their appearance to sincerely thank the fans for making the show such a monster hit. Screams would intensify as Somerhalder used his famous eyes to stare intently at different members of the audience. It was entertaining to view and hear the reactions as the actor repeated this technique throughout the length of the panel. There also appears to be a genuine rapport among the actors as they could be seen fist bumping several times and making off microphone comments to each other. The trio were on stage for one solid hour. It is a good indication that the fans had a great time because when the trio left, fans could be heard saying, “what, so quickly?” among other comments.
Creation conventions typically end their Saturday activities with a special party. The party for this particular convention is called “The Decade Dance”. It is a party where fans usually get an opportunity to mingle with some of the stars of the television show. Individuals who appeared that night included Daniel Gillies, Steven R. McQueen and Nathaniel Buzolic! A major surprise occurred when Ian Somerhalder walked in and proceeded to have an amazing and wonderfully optimistic discussion with the fans. It is to the actor’s credit that he appears to not to have an inflated view of himself. He demonstrated this with his self-deprecating sense of humor when propositioned by some members of the party. It was a rare moment for fans to actually experience a face-to-face conversation with a major celebrity without barriers and twitchy handlers!
The following day would reveal itself to be a surprisingly emotional one for fans and for one actor in particular-Nathaniel Buzolic. Buzolic is an Australian actor of Croatian descent and passionately spoke of always staying true to your dreams-whatever they may be. Emotions swelled when the actor spoke of accidentally meeting relatives in his native Croatia and the joy that they both experienced through this incident.
Actor, Daniel Gillies also conducted a question and answer session with fans. There is common denominator that seemed to run throughout the convention’s celebrity guests-humility. Gillies displayed a fair amount by stressing the importance of individuals who physically work in their profession. He stated these thoughts at his own expense and his own relationship to acting.
The actors who closed the convention were the popular, Michael Trevino and Zach Roerig. The two actors had noticeably enjoyed themselves. A leap of faith stunned this columnist when Roerig accepted a “Bloody Mary” from an enthusiastic fan who answered the call when the actor amusingly asked for a drink. It was an intriguing and refreshing display of trust that the actor accepted and quickly proceeded to sip the drink! The two actors proved to be a natural comedic duo and might have a promising future as stars in a traveling stand-up show!
As the traveling convention continues to maneuver through the United States and Canada, all signs point to this convention dedicated to The Vampire Diaries will be equally as successful and entertaining as Creation’s own “A Salute to Supernatural”. The oft spoken respect for fandom is there, the charismatic talent is there and above all, a strong core of fandom that is drawing an every increasing female presence that is indeed, welcome! It will be an interesting three year run!