Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eliza Dushku Defends Hayden Panettiere, my bible (well…my homepage anyway), had an item about Eliza Dushku defending Hayden Panettiere charging for autographs at a fan expo. Here is the original article from the Daily Mail in the UK. 

Are times that tough Hayden? Actress Panettiere charges $30 an autograph at fan convention
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:10 AM on 27th August 2011

She found herself without a regular television role after Heroes was cancelled last year.

But it seems times have got a lot tougher for Hayden Panettiere.

The 22-year-old actress spent today at a fan convention in Toronto signing autographs for the princely sum of $30 a pop.

And if fans wanted a photo opportunity with the star, they would need to cough up $45 for the privilege, according to an accompanying sign.

The actress wore a low key grey T-shirt with her hair pulled into a ponytail as she greeted convention goers.

The four day Fan Expo Canada Convention in Toronto is for fans of  horror movies, comic books, science fiction, animé and video games.

Fan conventions such as these have more of a reputation of attracting actors in the twilight of their careers.

However, Hayden joined the likes of Harry Potter star Tom Felton and Buffy actress Eliza Dushku putting pen to paper at the event.

However, it doesn't seem that Hayden is washed up quite yet.

She starred in Scream 4 earlier this year, and will appear in drama Carmel next year alongside Lauren Bacall and Alfred Molina.

Next, she is said to have signed up to star in high school thriller Downers Grove alongside Twilight actress Nikki Reed.


Open Letter to The Daily Mail
Posted to News on Aug 30, 2011

Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Mail
Dear Sir,

I write to you because the piece of your paper that concerns me was anonymous. The piece was 27th August titled “Are times that tough Hayden?” ridiculing and attacking the actor Hayden Panettiere for participating in a Toronto Expo fan gathering where fans are charged money (Oh shock! Oh shame!) in exchange for autographs, signed pictures, and the chance for a bit of face time with their favorite celebrity.

My dear editor, how does Hayden’s action differ from what you do for much of the content of your “news” paper? There we have celebrities exchanging their name (sometimes willy-nilly, no permission asked), their time, and their pictures in exchange for a bit of publicity for their work. At least the fan shows (such as the current Toronto Expo one) are honest and up front about the exchange. In addition, at these shows both fans and celebrities get some precious small contact with each other as real people. Your paper does not provide that value.

Yes, you will have to tell me where you think you get off attempting to diminish a young actor who is attempting to reach out to fans in one of the only practical ways provided by the entertainment industry, an industry your paper is a part of and largely dependent on.

It is particularly shoddy that the author scoffs at Hayden’s lack of “Harry Potter” or “Spiderman” fame while leaving himself unnamed as “Daily Mail Reporter.” Talk about being a parasite! Does Daily Mail Reporter want to shoot down Hayden’s career, just at its beginning, and then take a salary for doing so? Seriously, Sir, for shame.

As someone who goes to conventions and pays for photo ops and autographs, how do I feel about it?

I remember when Comic Con was only able to get one celebrity to show up. I remember the year Jean Claude Van Damme came. I remember the year Tia Carrere came. Van Damme didn’t stick around for autographs, he came to plug TimeCop and bounced. Tia Carrere came to promote and sign autographs because she was going to star in either the television show or movie “Shi.” Crusade Comics had a comic book printed up with her likeness on the cover to celebrate.

That was in the early 90’s when no one charged for autographs. Then Star Wars actors came. I remember seeing Kenny Baker and I ran over to an 8x10 dealer to get a photo and I had him sign it and he asked for $10. I must have looked at him like he was from another planet because he said the price again. I paid and left and soon discovered that David Prowse and Peter Mayhew were also charging for autographs.

From then on, more and more celebrities came to the con, charging for autographs but they weren’t charging for photo ops until 5 or 6 years ago. Now charging for autographs and pictures with the celebrities is commonplace. What I appreciate about the Hayden photo on the Daily Mail site, is that there is a big sign that says how much she charges for each. When I have gone to Comic Con or Wizard World, there are celebrities that I’m interested in but I don’t wait in a line to find out how much they’re charging so I don’t bother.

I’m okay with the celebs charging with a few caveats.

1)      The price is visible and there aren’t hidden fees (one of Mick Foley’s handlers asked me if I wanted him to sign a photo as all of the wrestling characters he has played – I said okay and the guy wanted an extra $15 so I said forget it) so I don’t have to make decisions on how much a celeb is worth to me while I’m standing in front of them. That can be embarrassing.
2)      If your prices aren’t visible, you have to be VERY up front with people about what your charging for. I was at the Lightspeed booth at the Con one year and a woman wanted an autograph with someone from Star Trek (I can’t remember who) and she got the autograph and put down her money and asked for a photo with the celeb, when she was done with the photo they charged the fan more money. She didn’t know that a photo with the actor was extra.
3)      If I’m paying for a photo op and it’s not by a professional photographer but with my own camera, I don’t buy it. An autograph you might be able to sell if times are tough but I’m not paying extra money for the celebrity to stand up and smile (and I remember the times when buying an autograph got you a free photo with the celeb).

Creation Conventions (which I love) are up front with everything. You know how much things cost and get tickets for autographs and photo ops way before you’re standing in front of the celebs so you can just enjoy the time you spend in with the celeb. Wizard World conventions are also good for trying to keep the autograph prices of their celebs in attendance (not all of them because they don’t always know in advance) and Froggy’s Photos have all the photograph prices on their website before the convention.

At the Con it’s almost impossible to know what anyone is charging and it’s tough to justify standing in a long line for someone you might not get an autograph from when there’s so much other stuff to do.

I don’t love paying for autographs but there are some advantages to paying for them. When the Con has casts or people come out to sign promo items, they don’t charge for the autographs so even people who don’t care about the signing get in line for autographs. After the Con, those autographs end up on eBay. If I want to meet the celebrity and there’s some idiot in line who is trying to find out what that celeb has been in, it’s annoying. Charging for autographs helps weed out these ‘trolls.’ Charging also helps keep the lines manageable. People who don’t want to pay or think it’s too much to pay are separated from the fans who are willing pay.

For those celebrities I’m willing to pay for autographs from (and I’ve purchased them from Hayden at Comic Con one year and Eliza at a Creation Convention last year), I’m a big fan and the autograph is worth it to me. I was going to see Hayden again this month at the Wizard World Los Angeles convention until it was canceled.

The Daily Mail asks if Hayden is desperate. Most stars Hayden’s age are going out partying, getting hooked on stuff, and making headlines for whoever they happen to be dating. Hayden is a working celebrity who has been lucky enough to do projects that has given her a lot of fans. If she waited twenty years to show up at conventions, people might not care about getting her autograph as much so she’s striking while the iron is hot. Plus the time she spends smiling and shaking hands with the fans is enabling her to strengthen her relationship with the fans and gain new ones so that when she does a project, more fans will tune in or buy tickets. In the absence of anything to promote, Hayden is promoting herself. In the absence of anything to promote, Eliza Dushku is promoting herself.

Celebrities are making themselves more and more available as there are more and more conventions for them to attend and that’s a good thing. If you don’t want to pay for autographs or photo ops, don’t. As always, the strongest vote is the one we make with our wallet.

Hayden at the convention in question.  I wish I could have gone because she was a sweetheart when I met her.

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