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Cast of Serenity To Gather at Convention for Fans and For Charity

Friday 25 November 2005, by Webmaster

Three years ago, the television show Firefly debuted on the Fox Network. Created by Joss Whedon, who was also behind the hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the show was a bit of a departure from the status quo for Whedon. There were no vampires, no demons...except for mankind itself. Set in the future, Firefly dealt with the crew of the ship Serenity and its passengers. Part sci-fi, part western, the series was totally unique on the television schedule. And even though the show had great writing and a talented cast, Fox decided to cancel the show after only 13 episodes.

The Big Damn Flanvention is December 9-11, 2005 for all fans of Serenity and Firefly. [logo: Booster Events]"Hell no, we won’t go!" cried the fans, who immediately launched a campaign to save the show. They wrote letters, sent faxes and emails, made phone calls — all to no avail. Fox simply refused to give the show a fair chance to catch on with the Nielsen families who control the all-important ratings.

But rather than give up, the fans continued to make noise...and Universal Pictures decided to give Whedon the chance to tell the story on the big screen. Serenity, the film, debuted this fall in second place for the week’s box office charts.

Through it all, the cast of the show/movie vocally told the fans how much their support has meant to them, for this was a project that they, too, had big love for.

And now, the cast will get the chance to say thanks to their fans face to face at the Big Damn Flanvention (a play on a Freudian slip by actor Nathan Fillion who accidently called the fans "flans" in a video interview—maybe he thought we were tasty?), which is being held December 9-11 in Burbank, CA. The actors have appeared at various comic and sci-fi conventions throughout the summer as part of the promotional activities for the movie, but this will be the first solely-Firefly/Serenity convention held in the US.

All of the primary actors of the series will be present at the convention: the previously mentioned Fillion (Mal); Alan Tudyk (Wash); Morena Baccarin (Inara); Adam Baldwin (Jayne); Jewel Staite (Kaylee); Sean Maher (Simon); Summer Glau (River); and Ron Glass (Shepherd). The only major cast member missing is actress Gina Torres (Zoe). Recently announced additions to the roster are Yan and Raphael Feldman, who play Fanty and Mingo in the Serenity movie.

So why the convention? "The fans have worked long and hard to realize the dream of a Firefly movie," says Denise Adams of Booster Entertainment, which is organizing the convention. "The BDF is a chance to get together with other fans, mingle with the actors, support worthy causes and have a great time. The convention takes place over a three day period, with a projected fan attendence of 500, so there will be lots of time with the actors, without the huge crush of the larger comic conventions."

Most of the cast of Serenity and Firefly will be at the convention. [photo: Fox]Worthy causes? Yes, because in addition to giving love back to the fans, the cast has agreed to participate in a charity luncheon on the Sunday of the convention, during which the 500 will be whittled down to only 20 participants. Those lucky twenty, who have won the tickets being auctioned on eBay, will get an up-close-and-personal experience with the cast. There will also be a live auction during the convention.

BE Charitable, Booster Entertainment’s charity arm, has chosen to donate this convention’s charity funds to Equality Now, an international organization which works to end discrimination and violence against women and girls. "EN is show creator Joss Whedon’s favorite charity, and being a woman owned-and-operated business, EN strikes a particular cord for us," says Adams. "We’ll have a check presentation at the convention, but we will continue to raise money for EN, long term. It’s one of the three major charities we support through BE Charitable."

The three days allotted for the convention are jam packed with events from Q&A sessions to photo and autograph sessions. There will also be scheduled nighttime entertainment, both ticketed and free, that include a cocktail party, a karaoke/dance party, and an off-site concert Friday night (Dec 9) at the Roxy on Sunset Strip by the band Kane. Actor Christian Kane (known to the Whedon Universe as Lindsey on Angel) fronts the band, which often plays around LA.

Passes for the BDF are available in daily increments, or in a 3-day "Big Weekend Pass", which will save you money (prices are in line with most conventions I’ve attended)...and wouldn’t you want to be there all three days, anyways?

In talking to Adams about the event, I wondered if the cast was truly as psyched about this as the fans will be. "The Serenity/Firefly actors are hugely appreciative of their fans. They realize how hard the fans worked for a continuation of the Firefly story and are bonded with the fans in a love of that ’verse. The actors were on board early on in the planning process," she explains. "Adam Baldwin, who plays Jayne, attended one of our conventions earlier this year. When asked what his favorite fan moment was, he replied, ’My favorite will always be the fact that the fans got Serenity made.’"

So, if the idea of spending a weekend with a lively, enthusiastic cast and about 500 other people who are fans of the Firefly/Serenity universe sounds good to you, mark your calendar for Dec 9-11 and make plans to be at the Burbank Hilton. I’ll be there and I’ll be bringing you a full report on the convention, as well as an in-depth look at the woman-owned Booster Entertainment to see just what really goes into planning a fan convention.