*S* - here's one journalist's account of C4 - and may I say ahead of time that none of our group "lounged in seductive poses" - *L*! No, we stood in line, and stood in line, and stood in line... and had our brief moments with the signers, all of whom were incredibly gracious, considering the circumstances.
And, yes, there were a lot of young fans... but the older ones did appreciate the talk about film projects and book writing at the Q&A. That's why we asked the questions that brought those subjects up. *nods to her fellow mooters*
On the other hand, we did spend a lot of time at Costa Coffee. *S* Thank heavens London Expo was more of a relaxed, intimate experience.
From Guardian Unlimited:
"Collecting Hobbits and Hysteria"
Victoria Barrett braves the concrete world of Milton Keynes, and finds a hobbit-strewn kind of hell
Sunday October 19, 2003
Milton Keynes does not usually lend itself to be a Mecca of celebrity. Until recently, the biggest celebrity event to happen in the town was the UK premiere of Rocky 4, although my cab driver tells me that Stallone failed to attend.
At the best of times, it's too easy to hate the town - although that shouldn't stop you - it's all boulevards and roundabouts and it has a clever knack for getting you completely disorientated. With the sudden addition of hoards of hysterical girls, some storm troopers, a busload of hobbits and it's a form of hell.
"It was mad, absolutely mad!" Dominic Monaghan, who played the hobbit Meriadoc Brandybuck in the Lord of the Rings films, you may have heard of.
"I could not believe the amount of people that turned up. Most were ... um ... yeah ... girls. Most went bright red, that was great. I love girls. There was this one girl whose voice got higher and higher and higher [imitates her] as she was speaking to me. I tried to calm her down but I think I was making it worse."
This whole kerfuffle centred on Collectormania 4 - a modern version of an autograph convention where run-of-the-mill Star Trek, Blake's 7 and Star Wars actors, and, weirdly, Corey Feldman, mixed with celebrities from Harry Potter, the Matrix and the Terminator movies (sadly, Arnie had something on in California). They sat in booths dotted around middle of the town's shopping center cheerfully undergoing the twin disciplines of meeting and greeting.
On the Saturday afternoon, it was crowded as bemused shoppers mingled with minor stars and would-be groupies lounged around in provocative poses. The following day, it became positively manic, as the likes of Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Andy Serkis joined their Lords of the Rings colleague Monaghan, leaving the organizers, Jason Joiner and Mark Woollard, little short of shell-shocked at the heaving masses of fans wandering, hormones a-go-go, between the comic stalls and Costa Coffee.
Hopping between attempts to placate the press, dissuading queue jumpers and dealing with irate parents, Joiner and Woollard insisted that they were surprised at the numbers, not least the hoards of people who had camped overnight in the queue for hobbits, though mostly at the wrong entrance.
Some flew in from Europe and America, others driving through the night from Scotland, Devon and Portsmouth for the pleasure of handing over £20 for an autograph, but at least the quality of stars they see at Collectormania is rising: "Billy Boyd (Peregin Took) came to last one and told the rest of them about it. I spoke to Elijah on the phone and he said he'd come, I didn't really have to go through an agent, PR or anybody like that, which seems really easy but as there is nothing really signed it does worry you until they turn up. When they arrived, Elijah and Sean laughed at me for worrying they said 'we told you we would come and we're here!" says Joiner, rather pleased.
All 1000 tickets for Elijah Wood's queue were gone at 9.30 that morning, with the vast majority of hopefuls yet to arrive. No star can sign a thousand photos in the time allotted let alone chat to the fans or have a photograph with them, so by Sunday afternoon, personalising autographs was frowned on and any chat with your idol curtailed. Monaghan and Wood began rebelling, chatting even - and managed to slow the queue even further. Every fan had a personal tale to tell to link them directly to a hobbit; every other fan had a present. "Look at this, isn't it really cute", says Wood, holding a photo of a three year old dressed as Frodo. Behind him was a treasure trove of presents, ranging from CDs, clothes, chocolates, carved boxes and handmade scrolls detailing the rules of 'Tag'.
At least the hobbits fared better than the Harry Potters. James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley from the Potter film franchise) seemed bewildered by a pink bra with potatoes sellotaped inside, while other Hogwarts pupils received, peppers and various assorted fruit and vegetables for reasons they could not explain.
In the afternoon, and with tears and shouting, the signings ended, the shopping centre emptied and stampeded towards the cinema where discussion panels were to be held. Astin and Wood flirted outrageously with the crowd and gamely answered questions about girlfriends, Orlando Bloom, food, music, girlfriends, tattoos, hobbits, Orlando Bloom, nocturnal emissions and girlfriends. When a serious question was asked the actors looked momentarily relieved but few wanted to hear about Wood's plans for bringing Douglas Copland's Girlfriend in a Coma to the screen. Nor did anyone want to hear about Astin's book plans or his literacy project - and besides he's married.
It's the puberty effect that has alienated the 'serious' fans of The Lord of The Rings - it starkly showed to them how big the bandwagon is and shocked them to see the film hijacked by hormonal adolescents. However, the time of the pop band is over. The immediacy of DVD and events such as Collectormania give an intimacy that other mediums simply cannot compete with. A certain age group left Milton Keynes with all they could possibly hope for; others departed frustrated and dejected.
The latest Lord of the Rings film, 'Return of the King' is released on December 17 and is rumoured to have its pick of the Oscars. With such hype it'll be hard to keep things at a sensible volume. If the film comes home empty handed, the scenes at Collectormania will be a walk through Rivendell in comparison to the uproar that will ensue.
What Tolkien would have thought of all of this is a foregone conclusion. He professed to hate the hype the books created in his lifetime, and most members of his family have distanced themselves from Peter Jackson's epic. Collectormania would have seen him rotating in his quiet grave in Oxford.
- The next Collectormania will be in March at Wembley