CMA NBC FanFair in Nashville
& Days Fan Weekend in LA
CMA/NBC Daytime Fan Fair 2004
FanFair started off on Wednesday afternoon in Nashville -- my moms last day off. She’s my driver! I go down to the Gaylor Entertainment Center to get my -- what they call -- a "goodie bag," but I only got the big book, because that contained the ad for the NBC soap stars.
At right: Days' Melissa Reeves (Jennifer) and Passions Eric Martsolf (Ethan) at the CMA/NBC FanFair
Thursday comes around, which was the official First Day of FanFair. I wake up at 5 AM and get ready. We leave by 5:30 AM. I arrive at the Convention Center about 6 AM. I’m up toward the front door pretty early and sit with some people who are soap fans, too. We chat up a storm! I start to get my stuff organized and a few hours later -- about 9 AM -- they let us in and people start running to the three different doors. Of course, everyone goes for the second door on the right, and I'm the second one to the doors on the left. (I then come to find out they weren't signing autographs on the first day, so I go to see James Otto who sings "Days of our Lives!” Next, I go buy his single. On the little commentary track on the single, he talks about how he was in the studio one day when Days comes on and they decide to name the song after it!)
Nothing really exciting happens that day besides just going around taking pics, seeing old friends, and talking with the event staff. Most of them ended up being my old teachers at my schools in my county -- they were there last year and the year before, too, so I see them every year. It makes me think of my middle school days!
Before I know it, it’s Friday. I get back up at the same time, and we leave about five minutes late, but I still sit with the people I sat with the day before. (In fact, I sat with them all weekend.) At about five minutes to 10 AM the doors open and everyone runs to the designated booth they wanted to go to. I’m one of the first ones to get to the NBC booth and then others arrive after...some were even old friends that I didn't recognize! (Hey Michelle G. and Linda!!!)
At about 10:15 AM, the first set of the Days/Passions stars arrive to sign autographs. I got through the line and got to see them. (Sorry, I don’t remember who was first, etc.).
Kyle Brandt (Philip, DOOL), before he was suppose to come out, did a radio interview with a Chicago radio station that was covering FanFair all week and had a booth actually within feet of the NBC booth. I found out 15 minutes before he came out he was suppose to be there so I mark my spot at the line and Kyle comes out and waves at me and I said, "Hey Kyle" and he said "Hey Beth, what’s up?" and I said "I had to tell the lady about you and your character" and he said "Right on!" (Well, he really said “you go girl” but I hate saying that!) So he gets interviewed and I start snapping pictures.
It pretty much is like that all day. Different stars come out, I go to take pictures, and then they get done signing, do group shot,s and then the next set of stars comes out. I think there were five different times that four different stars came out on all three days.
On Saturday, my routine is the same as above -- wake up, get in line outside the Convention Center, go inside, run to the NBC booths and do the autograph line thing over again. The only setback that made some of the fans mad for this year’s FanFair was that you could only have one item signed. It used to be one personal item and one item signed (the photocards) and then one photo with one star or one photo with two stars. What seemed a bit unfair was that they did allow some fans to get more than one photo. That upset half of the fans and even me this year. There were less NBC fans at the booths and the lines this year than last year which is what really made me mad when they did this. They said they were "Running late" when they weren't.
During that day, I was back and forth from the line before it started because I had a fan club ticket to get in line to see Leann Rimes (who played Madison on Days back-- I think -- in 1998). I got over to Kassie DePaiva’s (Blair, OLTL) booth after I was done with the NBC booth to see her and get our annual picture again. We chatted up with her and the fan club president who I've seen every year since 2002.
Sunday came and I embarked on the same routine. Except this time, I had a friend with me, who saved me a place in the second signing so I could see everyone that day. I was in the line to see McKenzie Westmore (Sheridan, PAS), Richard Steinmetz (Martin, PAS), Kyle Brandt (Philip, DOOL) and Melissa Reeves (Jennifer, PAS).
I came up to Kyle and said “Heyyy" and he said "Hey dude!" So, I brought my t-shirt from the California basketball game for him to sign for me. It was already signed by Judi Evans (Bonnie) and Kyle Lowder (Brady, DOOL). Next, I went up to Mckenzie Westmore (Sheridan, PAS), who knew me anyway. I gave her an angel bracelet, and she wanted to wear it and asked me to put it on her. I said, "I hope I don't get in trouble for doing it." I started shaking because they kept saying to keep the line moving. I got it on, finally, and got my picture with her, and went on. Her husband (Seven from the band Seven and the Sun) showed up, so my friend Gi took my picture with Seven and chatted with him saying we didn't even know he was gonna be there! (Mckenzie never did mention he was coming on his website, we knew he was coming with her to Nashville, but never said he was coming out to the booth).
After that, I went to the last line which was the "hopeful" line for the last line of the day. I talked a lady into watching my bag while I went take some pictures. Then, I got in the last line and I got my autographs and stuff.
All in all, FanFair was a really good four-day event. I encourage anyone who has doubts about getting the opportunity to meet the NBC stars, that IF you decide to come, you need to make a game plan to arrive at the Convention Center about 6 in the morning each morning IF you want to be able to get in line to see the soap stars. That’s what I had to do the past two years. I give this advice all the time when people ask how is it, how does it run, etc. Well, this is my advice to you: your game plan needs to be what I do. If you are staying at a hotel downtown on Commerce Street, you don’t need to get up that early, but still need to get to the Convention Center by 6:12 am. I live 30 minutes away so I had to be up real early. I rode into town with my mom and secured my place in line.
Beth’s Trip to LA and Days Fan Weekend 2004
Both the Good and Bad of the Event
At right: Days' Deidre Hall (Marlena), Thaao Penghlis (Tony) and Suzanne Rogers (Maggie) Photo: Beth
It started when I arrived at the Sportsmen’s Lodge about 3 PM (PT time). I met these four ladies in the lobby and they said they were going to the fan events that weekend. One of them ended up being one of my VERY good friends I haven't spoken to in like four months before the events.
I signed in and went to my room to unpack and get settled. I met some people that were going to the Wesleys’ event that night. Most of them had left already, and some were getting ready to head over to the high school. The event was going to start at about 8 PM. I got settled, got the items I was going to get signed at the lunch wake event that next morning, and selected what I was going to wear. I made sure my camera was loaded with film and I had my money in my camera bag and I was ready to go.
It was 5:30 am the next day. I got up (too early actually!), got ready, got everything in my bag and left for the place at the hotel where the event was gonna be. I asked the front desk where the event was going to be and they said: "That place over there. In the Starlight Room.”
I go to (what I think is) the Starlight Room and spend about 5 to 10 minutes just sitting at the front of the grill and bar cause I knew nothing was open. Someone finally puts a little sign that said "Deidre Hall's Lunch Wake/ Starlight Room.” I follow the signs and get lost about four times trying to find the Starlight Room.
Frustrated, I return to the hotel lobby to tell them about not finding the place. (Keep in mind that the Sportsman’s Lodge is a huge, sprawling hotel.) They explained to me how to get there and I try it again one more time.
Success! I finally find the place. It’s still early. It was only about 7 AM and no one was there -- only the cleaning people. I wait in the seats, and then about 7:15 AM CJ (who runs Deidre Hall’s site -- and I think her fan club, if she has one) and her helpers come in and out bringing in goodies and stuff. ALOT of boxes for glasses and stuff and it got to the point where bigger boxes were coming in and so I offered to help prop the doors open. After they were finished loading everything into the room, I got thank yous from the helpers but not from CJ, which I thought was pretty rude.) About 15 minutes later, people in black started arriving and started sitting around the steps and the seats that were in front of the fireplace.
About 25 minutes later, Deidre Hall (Marlena, DOOL) walks right past me to enter the event. She’s wearing a jean jacket and a white shirt. She looked totally normal like anyone else. And then another 15 minutes go by and we are finally allowed to go in and we hand in our ticket for a name tag and go find our tables.
I was table at 21. It was very nice and big, so I go set my things down and go to the table for “Sale Stuff.” I purchased a picture of Susan and Bill Hayes (Doug and Julie), Steve Blackwoods’ (Bart) cd, and a Suzanne Rogers (Maggie) photo. I go sit down and meet the people sitting at my table while I organize what I’m going to get autographed that day. I get my Eric/Dee photo out, the photos I bought that morning, and Steve’s cd to get signed.
About 15 minutes later, the event begins with Steve singing and singing about the show and the characters and then Deidre coming out and greeting everyone and talking about how great it is to see everyone and at a new venue.
(Note: The WHOLE time she’s talking, the mike is going in and out.) Steve has to walk to Deidre about four times trying to get the mike to work.)
During the Q&A, I get to ask a question to "Julie" (Susan Hayes). "How would you feel about Julie and Maggie beating up Bonnie? She definitely deserves it!" We all start laughing and she responds...but I don't remember her entire response...just that "violence isn't the answer, but I wouldn't mind it because its soaps and Bonnie is getting on Julie’s nerves!" In fact, I got to ask a second question, but didn't because another person asked the question I wanted to ask. At least I got to stand next to Deidre at least once :) For the question I did get to ask, Steve brought over the mike.
And I am thinking – here are these people I wanted to meet since 1997 and I can't believe I'm actually here! I'm freaking out in my mind! The food was bad, though.
Suzanne Rogers was introduced and she talked about "Marlena and Maggie" and stuff. Next, Susan and Bill Hayes were introduced. Bill talked about the island thing and said: "I think now you guys are watching where Doug is all beat up from trying to find where he is." Then, Thaao Penghlis (Tony) was introduced. He had a previous personal commitment, but he managed to stay with us as long as he could.
After the Question & Answer segment came the Autograph Session. We all get in a line. Deidre mentions that time is running out and that we can only do autographs -- no photos – but people got photos with Deidre. Bill and Thaao were at the stage doing autographs and photos....
I finish with everyone very quickly and get down to Thaao who is still doing photos. When I get over there this very rude lady who was with Thaao (a publicist?) says: "No photos just autographs." But people right THERE IN FRONT OF ME are getting photos with him and I said: "Well I just want a photo with him, "and she said: "You can't, I’m sorry," and I said: "I spent all this (bleep) money to meet Thaao and now I can't," and then I called her a (think of the word witch, but starting with a “b”) and then I left to go take photos of the others.
After I was finished with what I could do, I left. I also attended the basketball game on Sunday and thanks to Soapdom, I got a poster of the Serial Killer Story, and asked a number of the stars at the game to sign the poster for me. They did! I took more pictures and all in all had a great time at Days Weekend.
So -- there is my coverage of both events! I hope you all enjoy reading!
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