Try to picture your favorite GL actor going into the studio one day and just going up in front of the camera and doing whatever they want. No script, no preparation, just utter chaos. That is what yesterday at King's Dominion's "GL Super Star Saturday" was like. And for my fellow GL fans that were out in number yesterday, you know what I mean. Let me explain how the day went.
My friend Lynn and I left our homes in southern Maryland early enough to arrive in Doswell, VA, around 9:30-ish. Bought our $37+ ticket for the park (plus I think it was $8 for parking) knowing we wouldn't be getting on many, if any, rides. But admission was required for the event, so we paid what we were asked to.
When we arrived, we learned that the event was broken down into three segments: autographs, Q&A, and Casting Call -- where you could act with a GL star. We decided to get the autographs and pictures first -- so we could share them with all of you, then do the Q&A. If we had time, we'd go over to the Casting Call and see what was going on. The best laid plans...
We were about 250 people back in line for the first session of actors to autograph, and felt pretty good about being able to see and spend a moment with the stars. Ha! Fat chance! There were a more than a few glitches in the program, which I will try to convey here.
The "press," instead of interviewing the stars prior to the fans' time with them, decided to interview them with the fans in line, waiting for their moments with the GL'ers. Hello? What do you think we traveled all of this way for? The stars were there earlier than the lines opened up. Don't take up our time with your photo ops and interviews. One photographer with a black t-shirt and long black hair (and I should know -- I have about 100 pictures of the back of his head) monopolized the good photo ops for those not willing to stand in line who just wanted a photo from a distance. Note to CBS: don't let this guy back in another event -- he really ruined a lot of shots and caused the line to move even slower.
Crowd control was a complete joke. I know they couldn't know how many people to expect, but Kings Dominion gets a lot more people on any given summer day than was on-hand yesterday. Yet there were a ton of people allowed to just walk up, cut in line, and get their photos/autographs. To those "fans" I say you are very lucky we couldn't get up next to you and tell you what we thought of your thoughtlessness. Why do you think the lines were queued up all around the Eiffel Tower? We sure weren't there for the ride to the top of the marquee feature of the park. I never once saw the park manager, but will certainly be sending him/her a copy of this column (along with CBS, Televest, all the soap magazines, etc.).
For the first several hours, it was as if the lines didn't move at all. While there were plenty of fans who moved through the lines at a good clip, there were plenty who either took way too much time and weren't encouraged to move on after a few moments. I know that you paid to see the stars, but remember that everyone did the same as you. Say your peace and move on. Hopefully in an orderly fashion so everyone can enjoy the day.
We got to the front of the line at 1:30, when the third group was in place. We got to see David Andrew MacDonald (Edmund), Gina Tognoni (Dinah), and Bradley Cole (Jeffrey). Three-and-a-half hours in line, outside in the hot sun, and those were the only three I ever got close to. After eating a quick lunch, we got back in line for another session. After standing there for another two and a half hours, we were told "sorry, we don't feel that we'll be able to accommodate you" and were given pre-written signed post photos of the stars.
Gee, thanks. I couldn't write to them and get these mailed to me for a whole lot cheaper, right? So for $45, all I got was two minutes with a quarter of the stars there (three of twelve -- well, eleven, since Laura Wright didn't show)? Plus don't get me started on the gas we all paid for getting there. I never made it to the Q&A or the Casting Call. Many fans stood in line and never got within shouting distance of any of the stars, so I count myself as one of the luckier ones.
The karaoke event was fun -- but also disorganized. The stars were instructed to look into the camera on one side of the stage -- so the fans on the other side only saw their backs most of the time (thankfully I was in a decent spot and have a ton of photos I can share with those who are interested -- and if you were onstage, please let me know and I'll send you -- for free -- unlike KD -- your pics). The actors weren't even aware of what they were singing in advance. And the one actor with several singing CD's didn't participate (I know karaoke isn't "your thing," Bradley, but you could have put up with it for ten minutes -- Beth Ehlers and Gina Tognoni -- who don't sing -- did it for the fans).
Before I get too far into my rant, I do want to thank the stars of GL who came out to the event on their off-day. Scott Bailey (Sandy), Bradley Cole (Jeffrey), John Driscoll (Coop), Beth Ehlers (Harley), Stephanie Gatschet (Tammy), Ricky Paull Goldin (Gus), David Andrew MacDonald (Edmund), Robert Newman (Josh), Tom Pelphrey (Jonathan), Gina Tognoni (Dinah), and Kim Zimmer (Reva). Laura Wright (Cassie), who was scheduled to appear, announced Thursday that she is leaving GL and did not attend. They were very giving of their time and talents, and I do appreciate what they did to make the fans' day memorable.
But for the folks at CBS, Televest, and Paramount who thought that they were putting together a memorable day for GL fans -- you succeeded. Unfortunately, instead of bringing together a stronger fan base on a show that desperately needs fans, you annoyed some of the most loyal fans in daytime, and wasted their hard-earned money and precious free time. All while leaving yourselves with the chance to show that you couldn't organize a child's birthday party, let alone an event of this size. As the saying goes, if you can't do something right, don't do it.
I know this was your first attempt at this sort of thing, but surely you realized an hour into this fiasco that more crowd control and less press were needed so the fans (who support the show) could spend some time giving the actors the feedback and praise that they deserve. We didn't want excuses, we wanted to spend time at least seeing the stars and letting them know we cared. No, we don't give a hoot if you put on this event at another Paramount park across the country.
The fans who were there yesterday deserve a re-do of this event -- for free and not thousands of miles away. Now is the time to step up and take care of your loyal fans that spent a pretty miserable day in the sun for next to nothing. Maybe you could actually ask the fans that were there what not to do next time. Or better yet, what we would like to see to make the event run smoother.
And for all of the great fans I met yesterday -- Martha, Jana, Jen, Sue, and all the rest, I hope to see all of you at a better-organized event next time. One of the best parts of any of these events (to me) is the ability to share a love of the show with fans like you. Please drop me a line and I'll try to respond once my blood pressure is lower.
Keep the Light Shining and Have a Great Week!