I have spent the past 9 years working with the General Hospital Fan Club Weekend and to be honest, I really thought I had it down. Debbie asked me if I would like to come help out with the AMC weekend and since we’d just done GH in July, I was a little reluctant. I do love all of our shows and I have never worked a fan event for any show other than GH, so a certain curiosity did prevail.
After a great deal of thought and planning, I decided to give it a try and see how it compared. Truth be told, I’d sworn off of fan events after my last GH Weekend because it had taken quite a personally dramatic turn and I really wasn’t excited about inviting a repeat. That happens sometimes.
What a wonderful weekend! A last minute scheduling problem had the venue changing from the Airtel Plaza to the Sportsmans Lodge literally less than a week before the event. Other people would have crumbled, but Debbie Morris, AMC Fan Club President, got busy and took care of business. The Sportsmans Lodge is 6 miles from the Airtel and they did a fine job of accommodating us at the last minute. In a way, it was good to be “home” since the Lodge had been the venue for the GH Fan Club Weekend for years.
We hit the ground running with the Kick Off Cocktail Party. The grounds were beautiful as always:
Although I did miss the swans and the Koi fish from the ponds under the crossing bridges. I was tempted to ask what happened to them, but wanted to continue my fantasy that they went to live on a big farm with lots of acreage and bugs and worms and such.
Linda Howard and I enjoyed our usual rollicking game that we like to call “check in” wherein we have a big ol fun time laughing and chatting and also get to greet everyone and give them beautiful jewelry keepsakes that look like wristbands but are actually priceless heirlooms.
The first star to arrive was one of the true hits of the weekend, Walt Willey. I turned all gushy fan girl and lost every ounce of professionalism I might ever have hoped to have had and claimed first photo rights:
Like so many other AMC actors, Walt is much, much more handsome in person than he is on TV. He was very personable and started working the room in no time. Over the night, several actors passed through to chat with fans: Finn Witrock (Damon), Stephanie Gatschet (Madison), Cornelius Smith, Jr (Frankie), Denise Vasi (Randi), Christina Lind (NuBianca), JR Martinez (Brot) and Jill Larson (Opal).
The Kick Off Party is very informal and the actors mingled with the fans, chatting and giving autographs and taking photos. It’s a fan’s dream, very much like you would imagine it would be to walk into a cocktail party and find that several of your AMC favorites are not only there, but actually want to talk to you and spend time with you. What a great way to kick off the weekend (hence the name… Goooooo Debbie!).
I did not post the bulk of the photos here so that your load time will be faster.
We dragged away from the Kick Off Party all spent and happy and slept in the next morning to get ready for the Karaoke Night party on Friday. This event was organized and hosted by Claire Mullan and Michelle deMoss. I have to be honest. I am just not a Karaoke person and when I first heard they were going to do this, I groaned and fussed a bit and thought it would be a dud party that would never again see the light of day.
BOY was I ever wrong! It was the most fun event I have ever attended in my life! The girls were so enjoyable and endearing (Stephanie Gatschet, Brittany Allen – Marissa, and Christina Lind – NuBianca). Speaking as an old woman, they were just absolutely precious. They laughed and sang and engaged the fans in a truly personal way.
The DJ for the night, Mike Gonzo, was awesome and let me tell you, the boy can belt out some B-52s! Loved the rendition of “Love Shack” he did with the gals. Trent Garrett (Asher) said he would come if he could sing The Doors and as the night wore on, we started to wonder if we’d loaded up Morrison onto the machine for nothing. Tap tap tao. In he came and he forever more sang some Doors! JR Martinez also stopped by and suffice it to say, a good time was had by all.
Fans Kandis, Rodney, Carol, Judy and Tammy were chosed from a bowl of names to sing with the stars and they could not have been more fun. Of course, I have photos for you!
Around 3/4 through the Karaoke Night fun, I started dragging and knew we were going to have a killer day the next day. We show up at 8:30am for check in for the main luncheon, work the main luncheon, run out and get a quick dinner then come back for Krystal’s BBQ, which would go well into the night. Being old and all, I expected it to fell me like a mighty oak, so I went to bed and slept the sleep of the righteous, full of appreciation for the art and fun of Karaoke so long as other people are doing it.
Saturday dawned earlier than I expected, although I’m sure it was right on time. If you attended the fan club weekend and had a wristband put on you at an event, there is about a 5 out of 7 chance that I’m the one who put it on you and around a 99.9% chance that I’m the one who put it on you if you went to the Kick Off Party, Karaoke Night, Main Luncheon, Krystal’s BBQ or the Chandler Brunch.
The fans who attended this event were so laid back and gracious. GH fans are an intense lot and you can feel a mob mentality rustling just under the surface. (Note: This is one of those times in this commentary that I am speaking purely from my own observation and experience and I am quite certain this opinion is not shared by Debbie Morris, AMC, ABC, etc, etc) AMC fans are much more relaxed. We did have one poor lady who passed out and needed EMT reviving because she got the impression Michael E. Knight (Tad) might not be there. Having met him a short time later, I can completely understand the reaction because damn!
I had the honor of managing the Green Room where the stars would come to hang out before they were announced at the event. Seeing them when they aren’t “on” showed me that they really are just cool, genuinely nice people.
Shortly before I went to work in the Green Room, Toni, the volunteer coordinator, gave me the sad news that I would be spending the entire day managing the autograph line for CAMERON MATHISON. I mean “Wheeeeee! Is it GOOD to be Katrina or WHAT?” I am admittedly not much of a Ryan fan (did you get that at all from my writing or did I have a poker face about it?), but I am a die hard Cam Mat fan!!
That means I was already kind of air-floaty by the time I got to the Green Room and had to put on my unaffected, so cool, “These are just people” straight face. I only got shaky once, which was when Michael E. Knight came in. My co-writer of the AMCFC Commentary, Kate Brown, did her best to prepare me for the experience, but wow. You just can’t ramp up for something like that. He’s kind, handsome, unassuming, quirky and great fun.
Walt Willey went all Wile E. Coyote on me at the worst possible time. Just as the actors were lining up to go in and be announced, he needed a bathroom run, so I escorted him out to the actor bathrooms (outside escort only, people) so he wouldn’t get mobbed. As he was coming out, the guy went rogue and sprinted outside saying he needed a smoke. Sigh. WE’RE LINING UP, WALT!! I do not chase after grown me. In fact, if there’s any chasing that is going to go on, they’re going after me, so I just let go of the leash and off he ran.
Pretty soon, he made it back and off into the Main Ballroom we went. For me, the most fun time of any fan event is being outside the ballroom with the actors when they are lined up waiting to go in. They get a little jittery like anyone else and the energy is very high as they amp themselves up for the event. The little kids (who are actually quite new to the show) were so very well behaved and obviously much beloved by the adult actors. That was sweet to see. Michael E. Knight loooked like he was thirsty, so I asked him if he wanted a drink. He gratefully (in my mind, he’s tremendously grateful) said a Diet Coke would be wonderful. I wiggled through and got him one and he made it disappear quickly. He got a laugh out of the fact that for the weekend, the shot of tequila had been renamed as “Just a Tad.” He asked me if I would mind doing something with his glass of ice and I had pause to wonder how much I could get for the straws on ebay. Instead, I gently set the sacred chalice of Knight onto a side table and figured the wait staff would manage it. (I did not touch the straws with my mouth. No no no, I did not)
After a question and answers session that Walt expertly hosted, the actors dismissed to tables on the periphery of the room for autographs and photos. From that point on, the afternoon is a blur of happy people and Cameron Mathison. Cameron was full of energy and seemed delighted to be around the fans. When you spend the whole day with these actors, you can start to see the mask slip sometimes and the irritation come out, but this guy was just as sweet to the last few people as he was to the first and was as genuine and gracious as he could be.
My break person arrived too late for me to get a Michael E. Knight photo (*moment of silence, please*), but I did get a tremendous hug from the very sweet, handsome, fantastic, insert other glowing adjectives here Michael Nouri (Caleb) who I have decided will likely be my next husband because I do love him so:
After my 5 minute break, I floated by to my Cam Mat table and finished up our day. I am proud to say that MY charge stayed later than anyone else signing and having photos taken and after the smoke cleared, I looked up and saw that almost no one else was in the room! Woot! Time to get my Cam Mat photo and go have dinner!
Photos? Pfft, of course I have photos for you. What kind of proxy friend would I be without photos? Also, here is a full list of actor attendees from the luncheon: Rebecca Budig, Tate Garrett, Bobbie Eakes, Michael E. Knight, Melissa Claire Egan, Cornelius Smith, Jr, Stephanie Gatschet, Finn Whitlock, Natalie Hall, Cameron Mathison, Jill Larson, Walt Willey, Christina Lind, Jacob Young, Jamie Luner, JR Martinez, Alicia Minshew, Chrishelle Stauss, Denise Vasi, Danielle Parker, Jack Vaughan and Tate Beney. (The last three are the new Emma, Spike and AJ, respectively)
My pals and I headed out to the fabulasss Jerry’s Deli which is right down Ventura from the Sportsmans and had a supper than just could not be beat. I think I had chicken. Whatever I had, it was nummy to beat the band.
We then rushed back to the Sportsmans for Krystal’s BBQ,which was another event that went beautifully and was a lot of fun. This event was organized and hosted by Claire Mullan and Michelle deMoss.. Bobbi Eakes signed a cowboy hat for everyone who purchased a ticket in advance. There was a lot of singing and some line dancing and all kinds of fun stuff going on. You can see for yourself because yes, as you may have guessed, there are photos.
Whew. Go back to the hotel and sleep like the dead again. Wake up first thing and head out to Breakfast With the Chandlers! This event was organized and hosted by Claire Mullan and Michelle deMoss. Again, the cast gave wonderful participation for the event and I have to tell you, that breakfast that was served looked soooo delish. (No, we workers don’t get to eat and I had a burger from Carl’s Jr rolling around in my unhappy tummy by that point)
Jacob Young was the host of this event and the guy, I swear, looks more like Brad Pitt every day. This is what he looked like when I first met him in 2001:
Back then, he was dressed kind of like a bum and had the rapscallion edge to him. (Sigh. I miss you, sweet Abbie!) But now!
Our little boy is all growed up. Sniff.
Brittany Allen could not have been sweeter, despite having been let go from the show around 45 minutes before the fan club weekend started. She still jumped in there and had a blast and was a big ton of fun. Melissa Claire Egan was charming and sweet and very notAnnie-like. Adam Mayfield wanted to attend, but also having just been let go from AMC, he was off filming a new project and could not attend.
The weekend was such an amazing success despite the challenges of the venue changing and the fan passing out and a couple of people who did not get notified of the venue change in time. I had a fantastic time and would love to participate in the event again, provided I am not off of the invitation list for my avid stalking of Michael E. Knight and Michael Nouri. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Oh! Stephanie Gatschet got video of some of the events and if you go to her YouTube channel, you can see some excellent footage of the fun we had! If anyone has trouble seeing the photos, please let me know and I will try to figure out why.
Kate will return next week for commentary and I will be right behind her the following week. Meanwhile, let me thank Debbie Morris, Toni Veltri, Michelle and George deMoss, Claire Mullin, Lynna Strickland, Linda Howard and the participating cast of All My Children for working so hard to create a fun and exciting weekend for the AMC fans. Thanks also to Jose (our captain) and the staff of the Sportsman’s Lodge for saving out butts at the last minute and hosting a series of beautiful events.