Day two of The Vampire Diaries Official Convention at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas saw an increase in fans and a drop in average age. There were still quite a lot of fans in an older age bracket but on average this new set of devotees were in their teens.
The very fact that this “supernatural” program has a male-heavy cast of good looking “hunky” performers means that a lot of these fans had spray-painted on their outfits and apparently left their chagrined boyfriends at home. That said, there were a large number who wore the modern day equivalent of their “Sunday best” (ask your grandparents) with at least a little left to the imagination. There were even a few fans of the male variety either hoping that the one female, Kat Graham who is not due till Sunday, might be there early or they were there to see the popular male actors as well.
Apart from the average age being much younger, the attendees on Saturday were also much more vocal with their appreciation for the two stars on stage for the Q&A sessions. Obviously both Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley were the major attraction on the day, with the Ian being slightly in the lead over his co-star.
Somerhalder’s autograph actually sold out before the end of day one. It would have been nice to report on the attitudes of the show’s stars on meeting with their fans or what they felt about getting “sold out” so quickly but due to “busy” schedules there has been no opportunity to speak formerly with any of the show’s participants. It should be pointed out that the only other autograph to be sold out on day one was that of Daniel Gillies from The Originals.
Watching the auction earlier in the day and then the later Question & Answer session with Somerhalder and Wesley, a problem with the organizers of this convention became more than just awkward. Compared to the limited experiences of this reporter at the other two conventions attended this year, the attitude of these staff seems to border on hostility. Apparently the idea of press covering the event is not seen as a good thing regardless of the fact that spreading the word could increase their profits.
Attending the Q&A session this afternoon this writer was questioned about whether the event was being “taped” – it was not as this is against the rules – and a tall grim faced gentleman then asked whether the reporter had checked in at the desk. Suffice to say, day two of The Vampire Diaries Las Vegas Official Convention has been an unpleasant experience for this member of the press and not just because of these two incidents.
For those who do not know, the press/media are invited to the venues after providing credentials in advance and then a publicist arranges coverage. Publications ask for organizers to arrange interviews with celebrity guests who are amenable. Most are as this publicity is not just good for their TV shows or films, but for them as well. In this instance, no interviews were set up “because of work scheduling issues.” Perfectly understandable. However, the staff in charge did not want to allow any coverage of the actors attending apart from when they were on stage with no leeway to get the odd shot in when they were not. The staff apparently did not want any press coverage of the celebrity guests at all.
This is puzzling and annoying. For a reporter who was quite pleased to cover a popular fan event to be treated with suspicion and something bordering on aggression raises certain questions. The experience of covering this smaller fan convention versus the huge Star Trek Con held in August, is literally like night and day. Just why the local staff have opted to antagonise the press is something of a mystery. Sadly, the one question that does spring to mind is that the workers were more concerned with filling the organizers’ coffers with money and less with publicizing the event with an Internet news website which has readers from all over the world.
It is obviously this unfriendly, unhelpful attitude that has kept press attendance to a minimum. On day one, a member of staff expressed surprise that only one reporter was covering the function. The next day, apparently there were more. Speaking to one other reporter on day two it appears that the organizers do not appreciate any coverage of their events by an “outside agency.” (The Q&A sessions are filmed by staff.) The local member of press had also been treated quite badly by staff at the function.
Of course these events are not staged for the press but they attend in order to publicize the venue and this ridiculous attitude is confusing to say the least. It is astonishing that this company also organized the bigger Star Trek convention in August. The larger venue, at the same hotel and casino, was much friendlier all around in terms of access to the celebrity guests by both fans and press.
While the larger convention felt geared to enhancing the fan’s experience this three day event had an assembly line feel to it. Most of this smaller venue consisted of eager autograph seekers queuing up to get their purchased signature and then scurrying off to get the next one. Photograph opportunities felt the same, a long queue of young, and not so young, women waiting excitedly to have their likeness captured for posterity with their favorite star of the show. There has been very little in the way of “panels” and Q & A sessions. The “name” actors are hidden from sight when not on stage, in a photo op or signing autographs.
It is understandable, to a degree, that the organizers of The Vampire Diaries Official Convention would want to “protect” the “talent” whether the venue is in Las Vegas or not. However, by the time the second day reached evening, the constant aggravation from staff was enough to put off anyone. The member of the local press, an actual fan of the show, was so disgusted by the way staff treated her that she left in the afternoon vowing not to return. The onsite convention staff member in charge, whom will remain nameless, was not only condescending but patronising as well. Not understanding, it seems, that press members are not “fans” and do not want autographs to covet or flog on ebay; that they are, in fact, paid to be there. The actors at the event were never given a chance to speak to the press to publicize how much they enjoyed interacting with fans of the show, although one did have a short conversation with this reporter and did just that.
The main problem with this smaller, more intimate, event may just be it is too small. The nicer feeling of yesterday’s coverage dissipated before the day’s end when the same staff member kept trying to get rid of the one solitary reporter covering the event…repeatedly. It is almost like these volunteers and staff members are too close to the “talent” and have forgotten that writers, aka reporters, despite having a camera slung round their neck, are not paparazzi. The Vampire Diaries Official Convention may not need the press to “advertise” their existence, but after an insulting day or even two, the event will definitely have to do without this reporter’s coverage.
By Michael Smith