Live from the 16th Annual Xena: Warrior Princess Convention!

Welcome to AfterEllen.com’s live coverage from the 16th Annual Xena: Warrior Princess convention in Los Angeles!

AfterEllen.com’s KT Jorgensen, who has photographed the convention for the last four years, will be be taking photos backstage as well as from the convention floor. We’ll also be bringing you interviews, reports and maybe even a little gossip all weekend long.

Just a word on how this works: I’ll be adding to the posts from the top down, so the new stuff is always on the top. If you want to read it in chronological order, start at the bottom of the page — that’s also where you’ll find comments. If you’re there, or following along here, let us know!

We’ll have one post — this one — for the convention coverage. Just hit refresh from time to time to see the new information at the top. You can also follow #xwp on Twitter for update alerts. 

——————– updates below ———————

Update 18 (Final update!): It’s not AfterEllen.com that kept you waiting to the very end for Renee and Lucy; Renee was scheduled for the very end of the convention.

KT caught these great shots of her backstage:

How does she stay so beautiful?

And so happy?

On stage, she took questions from fans:

Encouraged the next generation of Xenites:

 

Showed off her hot shoes (you just knew I’d go there, didn’t you?):

 

Demonstrated simultaneous sincerity and flexibility:

 

Introduced us to (infinity) director and “Words Unspoken” star Randy Crowder….

…who it seems shops for shoes at the same place Steven Sears does!

 

And then it happened! The rumors were right, and despite not being on the convention schedule, Lucy Lawless showed up!

Renee knew all along she was coming; that’s why she wore those high heels.

 

Lucy is still much, much taller… even in these:

 

They laughed….

They talked a little Spartacus and a little Xena

 

Joked around, of course…

 

And did I mention the hugging?

 

Then they were off backstage, where Lucy hung out with Jacqueline Kim (I can just imagine the uber-Xena fan fic for this one)…

 

…before being swept off in her carriage before it turned back into a pumpkin.

And that’s the 16th Annual Xena: Warrior Princess convention! Battle on, and see you next year!

Update 17:

I heard from Katherine Fugate that peer pressure from AfterEllen.com had led her to pay very special attention to her footwear today, and then I went and misidentified her boots as belonging to Adrienne Wilkinson! It’s been fixed, and I hope this hasn’t discouraged her from continuing to wear totally hot boots. 

Few more “catch up” photos: 

I’ve always had a serious thing for Jacqueline Kim. I loved Lao Ma, loved Xena/Lao Ma, and even loved it when Kim guested on my other fave shows, ER (she adopts Jing-Mei’s baby) and West Wing (she plays Coast Guard officer Lieutenant Emily Lowenbrau, who briefs Sam about an oil tanker spill).

This year, she sang!

Then Jennifer Ward-Lealand showed off her bad self, all dressed up for the SAG Awards, which took place this evening:

And of course, her shoes:

 

Update 16: Okay, they whisked Lucy away pretty quickly after her appearance, but we have photos of her and Renee and will post them soon. KT says it was, “A little bit of Sparty, a little bit of Xena, and a lot of bonding.” 

While waiting for photos of ROC and LL as well as from Jaqueline Kim‘s (Lao Ma) appearance earlier today (she sang!), some more “Shoes of the Xena Convention”!

First, the very awesome shot boots of Claire Stansfield, who is also a fashion designer:

Next up, Frances Fisher’s boots:

 

Melinda Clarke:

Super-cute boots on Katherine Fugate, made even more awesome by the rug background — and I’m so sorry, Katherine, for mis-identifying them as Adrienne’s!

Adrienne Wilkinson:

Also earlier, Michael Hurst (Iolaus) and Jennifer Ward-Lealand (warrior queen Boadicea), who are married in real life, were, as always, engaging and hysterically funny.

And not to leave her out, here are Jennifer’s shoes:


Update 15: LUCY IS HERE! Renee was not surprised.

Update 14: Yes, we have photos — but not yet. Give us time!

Renee is still speaking. A fan asked, “How has your method of acting changed?”

“I am less afraid,” Renee said.

Then she showed a new short film directed by Randy Crowder, who played the father in her earlier film “Words Unspoken.” It’s about PTSD. The name of the film is the symbol for infinity (not the word, the actual symbol). KT says, “Amazing and brutal. Real and well-acted.”

Update 13: Renee O’Connor is in the house. Showing her “Five Ways to Save Face” video clips.

Renee says Ark director Trey Stokes is in discussions for a second seasion of the sci-fi web series. (Link goes to Hulu.)

Her upcoming film, orginally titled “Fitful,” has been renamed and is now called Deadrise — it’s a ghost story, set on a boat (“deadrise” is a nautical term). It will be out in around six months, but before its release date, her other film, Beyond the Farthest Star, will come out. She plays the wife of a Texas preacher whose life as a good wife with a happy family is based on a lie.

Update 12: Two more segments of the skit, and we have another celebrity guest star! Frances Fisher, who among many other roles played Rose’s mother in Titanic, dropped by to audition for the Xena movie. She clearly came prepared; when asked if she knew how to sword-fight, she intoned, “I have many skills.”

Then there was something that was in inside joke I didn’t get (was it from Titanic? I’ve never seen it). Fugate asked her how she feels about crucifixion (one of the stock means of death in the Xenaverse) and Fisher said, “You can’t have crucifixion without crosses.” The audience went nuts, so clearly there’s something there, but I don’t remember any Xena connection. Help a girl out? (Note: Explanation in the comments!)

Fugate turned to the audience and said, “How much better does it get? And I didn’t sleep with her, either!”

In another scene, Fugate and Tapert were once again arguing about the storyline — he had some issues with her having posted the script on her Facebook page — when Steven Sears enters with a blonde Renee O’Connor semi-lookalike (played by a lucky fan) in tow.

He introduces himself as Renee’s agent, Salmoneous, and does a damn amazing impersonation of the character played by Robert Trebor in the series.

Tapert apologizes for not having returned Renee’s calls, but Salmoneous doesn’t allow her to respond. “He pays for dialogue,” he reminds her.

It seems that Salmoneous downloaded the script from Katherine’s Facebook page, and he has a problem with the fact that Lucy Lawless has 13 lines and a “yi yi yi” more than Renee does. “Tell your little playwright who lives by the sea and has never experienced love before but writes about it that she had better add 13 more lines… and a kick-ass karate sequence for Renee, or we are holding out and you’ve got no movie.”

Update 11: Tapert (the character, not the real person!) wasn’t on-board with the girl-on-girl kissing approach to Fugate’s script, so Crystal Chappell (Guiding Light, Venice) shows up (to huge applause) to reason with him, and offer her consulting services on making it real.

 

She walks into Tapert and Fugate’s meeting while they’re discussing how Xena and Gabrielle’s status as soulmates will allow Xena to come back from the dead, and arguing over the kissing. “I couldn’t help but overhear, because I was listening,” she says.

“I know a lot about soulmates,” she goes on. So much so, she says, that when her soulmate-pairing on “that other soap opera” got canceled and they couldn’t even give each other a kiss on the cheek, “We put together our own web show, and we do a lot of kissing. Because I figure that’s what soulmates do.”

Katherine thanks her for her offer, but says they already have their soulmates on the show.

Tapert agrees. “We don’t really need any more babes with kissable lips.”

She ignores them. “I think your show is fantastic, but there’s a lot of ambiguity there. Just let me ask you a couple of questions. For instance, were they kissing, or where they just having magic water bath friendship?

“Were they kissing or was it just that the tall, dark-haired… ‘friend’… walked through the ring of fire to kiss the blonde sleeping beauty… ‘friend’?” (The laughter and applause are deafening.) “And woke her up with the true love… ‘friend’… kiss?

“And what’s up with the hickey? I don’t remember which side it was on, but the hickey. Two people go to sleep in a sack of hay together and one of them wakes up with a hickey, are we supposed to believe the horse did it? The cow? I’m not judgin’, been there, done that.

“They were lovers. I just want to help you bring the show into the 21st century.”

Update 10: In the skit, Tapert presses Fugate about some of her character choices in her script, asking her if she’d slept with all the actresses playing the characters she’s featuring most prominently. Fugate denies it, hand on heart, shocked. Then she also denies that her script opens with Xena and Gabrielle making out in their own bodies, despite the fact that Tapert has the script and that’s just how it opens.

Adrienne Wilkinson slinks in and complains that she doesn’t really like Katherine’s writing because it’s too romantic and emotional, and only incidentally because her character is barely in it. “She just doesn’t have my voice,” she says. “And she didn’t sleep with me, either.”

Update 9: Back to the skit in a second, but KT just texted over this quickie snapshot (not a “real photo,” as she calls it) taken during Renee O’Connor’s photo opp with fans. Sorry this fan’s a guy, but since this is the first glimpse of ROC during this year’s convention, I went with it.

Update 8: So, the skit. This was not your usual fan convention skit. It was written by Katherine Fugate specifically for the convention, and some very special guests filled out its cast.

Plus, lesbianism and inside jokes.

It opened with Fugate playing herself and David Dean Bottrell (Boston Legal) playing XWP executive producer (and husband of Lucy Lawless) Rob Tapert. They’re discussing the script for a Xena film, and Fugate has some issues with his proposed title.

“What’s wrong with Xena; The Movie?” he asks.

Fugate’s answer is cut off by the entrance of Claire Stansfield as Alti. (All photos taken backstage during skit prep/rehearsal, not on stage.)

She explains what’s wrong with that title in Alti’s gravelly voice. “Xena is small screen,” she says. “This is a feature film. The movie should be called Alti.” (Laughter.) “Part One.”

“That’s right,” Fugate says, as Stansfield exits.

Tapert looks at her. “Did she hurt you?”

“I’ve had better experiences with women,” Fugate replies. And then, of course, more laughter.

 

Update 7: Next year, the convention is going to be moving back to its original home in Burbank. And there are rumors that it will be the final convention, but nothing is confirmed, nor been announced, and this isn’t the first year I’ve heard that rumor. But we’ll ask. And speaking of rumors, I think it’s safe to say almost everyone at the convention is hoping Lucy Lawless will show up unannounced, or at least Skype in with her webcam, during Renee O’Connor’s stage appearance. I guess we’ll all know soon.

Update 6 (Sunday): Today is the day Renee O’Connor makes her appearance. Before that happens, though, we have a lot to catch up on!

Last night, an incredible group of actors came together on stage to perform a skit written by Katherine Fugate specifically for the convention. It was hysterical, and we have video — but it’s taking some time to process. In the meantime, let us bring you on stage and backstage and get you caught up!

First, we have some great photos of Melinda Clarke, who Xenites know as Velasca the evil Amazon who became a god (Xena, of course, crushed her anyway) and others might know best as Julie Cooper from The O.C., as well as roles on CSI, Entourage, and Nikita.

 

Melinda as Velasca in the upper left hand corner, on the banner:

 

Yes, these are the arms of an Amazon goddess:

 

And a beautiful behind-the-scenes shot of Hudson Leick, between teaching yoga and doing psychic readings.

Brittney Powell (Brunnhilda), in what’s become a convention tradition, auctioned off her bra to raise funds for the Desi Geestman Foundation for children with cancer. KT couldn’t be there to take photos (she was backstage), but there’s a great report of the event here, and KT did get this image of Brittney backstage:

Back soon!

Update 5: Yeah, those “Lucy is going to be here!” rumors are flying. We’re digging. We really are! But it may be that none of us will know until the convention’s over. But we promise, if someone confirms it on the record, we’ll tell you!

Right now, Claire Stansfield is on stage talking about playing Alti, the constantly-reincarnating shamaness who is sworn to destroy Xena not just in one life, but across all lives. (Now that’s an enemy!) She recounts each episode or story arc, and then finishes them all the same: “And then I die.”

She also revealed that Karl Urban (Julius Caesar in the Xenaverse, possibly better known now for Lord of the Rings and Star Trek: Reboot) farted during their sex scene. I guess that was why Alti brutally slashed him to death during it, right?

Stansfield says she’s now done 35 Xena conventions, signed 10,000 photos of herself, had three of her fans get her face tattooed on them, and has around 2,000 Facebook fans. I guess that’s worth a little dying and farting!

Speaking of fans, one of them had a glass of wine, and Claire barked at her, “Give me the wine, bitch!” Alti lives.

Photos soon!

Update 4 (Saturday): Mary D over on Ausxip linked over here, and mentioned the rumor we’ve all been hearing that Lucy Lawless is in Los Angeles and may make a “surprise appearance” at the convention. We tried to get confirmation on that yesterday, and were told that Lucy had gone back to New Zealand and it’s definitely not true. But Mary D pointed out that Spartacus doesn’t start filming until April, so this morning, the rumor lives on. 

Last night featured a cabaret performance featuring Hudson Leick, Adrienne Wilkinson and Steven Sears, with David Franklin (Brutus) as MC. 

Hudson came in her glamor-girl persona:


I think she’s really working the darker hair, personally. What do you think?

Adrienne Wilkinson rocked the house:

Steven Sears did his thing to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Sweet Transvestite” from Rocky Horror — two great songs that go great together for sure!

Now, for the shoes. (Hey, I told you it was my theme this weekend!)

Hudson:

Adrienne:

Steven:

Vote for your favorites.

Back later with Claire Stansfield and Katherine Fugate!

Update 3: Despite the vast numbers of women from the cast of Xena, and the fact that they’re always taking off their clothing and auctioning it off for charity right in front of everyone, XWP producer and writer Steven Sears is still one of my favorite people to talk to at the Xena conventions. Over the years I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, and he’s consistently been the world’s biggest Xena/Gabrielle shipper and one of our staunchest straight alliesI saw him do some awesome verbal battling on his blog and on Facebook during the Prop 8 battles, and he’d have done the Warrior Princess proud.

This year, he spoke from the heart about his relationship with his father, who made his career as a sniper in the military — “but he was still my dad.”

He also danced with Xena fan club president Sharon Delaney:

Next up was Adrienne Wilkinson, who played the daughter of Xena and Callisto (really; would I lie?), Eve/Livia. (It’s complicated.)

She said lots of great things, but before I get to that: HER SHOES. Let me show you them:

Wilkinson took audience questions, which included details of what’s on her “bucket list” — Australia, she said. They also asked what she likes to watch on television, and she confessed that she’d tried to get into Spartacus, “but I struggle with the violence…. I’m not old enough to watch that.” Other faves included Castle and Damages on cable.

Next on stage was Hudson Leick (Callisto).If you’ve never seen Hudson on stage, well, there’s really no adequate or accurate way to describe it. It’s one of those things you just have to be there for. 

KT was standing near the stage taking photos, and Hudson asked her about it. KT explained she had the wrong lens on her camera and needed to get close, and Hudson purred, “How close do you need to be?” Lots of laughter.

And now we’ll do her shoes, too — let’s call it my theme for the year:

Hudson also teaches yoga in LA, and every year she does yoga classes at the convention. A guy who’d been at her class in a wheelchair was there this year, and thanked her for the class, and said what a huge help it had been to him — he’s not in a wheelchair anymore. Hudson gave him a big hug (something they don’t often let happen at these conventions).

A fan asked what her favorite moment in the series was, and she said it was her infamous “truth or dare” scene with Gabrielle in the episode “A Necessary Evil.” You know, this one:

Gabrielle:  “Can I ask you something?”

Callisto:  “All right– we both know how much I love chit-chat.”

Gabrielle:  “When we were at the village– and Xena was talking about Cirra– did you feel anything?”

Callisto:  “My goodness– are you trying to figure me out?  I’m flattered.”

Gabrielle:  “Answer me– or are you afraid?”

Callisto:  “Let’s play a game, shall we?  I’ll answer your question– if
you answer mine.”

Gabrielle:  “All right.”

Callisto:  “What did I feel– when Xena confessed her crimes?  Well the problem is, Gabrielle– I never feel anything.  I mean, bits and pieces, here and there, but nothing solid.  Think back to when you were a little girl– and all you knew– was your mother– and your sister.  And all of your faith revolved them.  Now, kill them.  My turn.”

Gabrielle:  “What?”

Callisto:  “When I sliced open your husband, how long did it take him to die?  [Laughs]”

Xena:  “There’s a path out of the mountains–.  What’s wrong with her?”

Callisto:  “We played a game of truth or dare, and she’s not very good at it.”

Callisto. So evil. So hot.

Another fan question: What would you have done if you hadn’t become an actor?

Hudson said she’d have gone into counseling or interior design.

That’s it for our Friday posting, we’ll have lots more tomorrow — including Katherine Fugate (XWP writer, Army Wives), Brittney Powell (Brunnhilda), Melinda Clark (Velasca), Jennifer Ward-Lealand (Boadicea), and Claire Stansfield (Alti).

Update 2: Another photo from last night’s charity benefit with the casts of Xena and Venice: The Series dropping by to raise money for good causes.

Left to right: Adrienne Wilkinson; Claire Stansfield; Harrison White (Venice); his husband, Patrick Killian; Crystal Chappell (Venice, Days of Our Lives, Guiding Light); Michelle Carter (Venice); Katherine Fugate. Kneeling is XWP producer and writer Steven Sears.

Update 1: The convention starts this afternoon, but last night, Adrienne Wilkinson, who played Xena’s daughter Livia/Eve on the series, held a party to benefit the many charities she supports. KT was there, as were a number of Xena alums, including  Xena: Warrior Princess writer Katherine Fugate (right) and Claire Stansfield, who played Xena’s arch-nemesis, Alti (left).

This afternoon, Hudson Leick, the woman behind Xena’s other arch-enemy (she had a lot of those, didn’t she? And all totally hot), Callisto, will hit the stage. Yeah, her:

Now for the bad news. We’d heard a rumor that Lucy Lawelss might be making a surprise appearance, and we tried to confirm it. Sadly, it’s definitely not true. She was in Los Angeles earlier in the week, but she’s back in New Zealand, shooting Spartacus. Sorry, everyone!

Back soon with more!

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