The first annual International Sports & Entertainment Festival was held in Cleveland, Ohio on June 15 – 18, 2006 at the Cleveland Convention Center. David Hedison and Priscilla Barnes, aka Mr. and Mrs. Felix Leiter were among the many actors and athletes in attendance. Another actor in attendance worth mentioning is Adam West. Many know him as my favorite superhero, Batman, from the campy but entertaining ’60s television series, but few know him as one of the guys who turned down the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Since Cleveland is my hometown I was able to attend the festival without having to travel too far.
The festival started on Thursday, June 15, 2006 so my father and I walked to the Cleveland Convention Center from his office around one o’clock, an hour after it officially opened. After paying the $15 entry fee, we took two sets of escalators down to the room where the festival was being held. The sports section included many athletes including two former Cleveland Indians players and Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown and more than a hundred exhibitors selling trading cards, uniforms, bats, balls, bobble heads and other sports memorabilia. I was shocked because I thought we had come to the International Sports & Munsters Festival. Although the entertainment section included a long row of tables for celebrities to sign autographs at and many exhibitor tables selling entertainment memorabilia such as vintage movie posters and autographed pictures, only Butch Patrick, aka Eddie Munster, was signing autographs. All the other tables were empty which meant the celebrities weren’t on a break, they simply weren’t there! The only interesting thing I saw was a guitar signed by all four of the Beatles (earmuffs not included).
I was furious because I’m used to events starting at the time and date scheduled. Perhaps I didn’t look at the festival’s website close enough but I saw no indication that the celebrities wouldn’t arrive until Friday the 16th. Everything including David Hedison’s official website said the festival would be held on June 15 – 18, 2006 so I assumed he and the other celebrities would be there the whole four days. My father and I went back up the escalator to find out what the deal was with this bogus festival. What did we find? Fours signs, one for each day, listing which celebrities would be there. The names of the three celebrities I wanted to meet were on every sign except for the one for Thursday. These signs were only visible after paying the entry fee. My nose is an old friend of mine and it told me something smelled. It was the smell of a scam.
It doesn’t feel very good to be scammed now does it? Due to a false title, you thought this article was going to be about me actually meeting David Hedison, Priscilla Barnes and Adam West. Sorry. Check the introduction again, I said I attended the festival but never once mentioned me actually meeting anyone.
Okay, so I returned the next day. I figured it was worth paying another $15 for a ticket to meet Felix Leiter, Della Churchill and Batman. I was flying solo this time because my dad had had too much “fun” the previous day. I was now equipped with a camera (I was hoping I could get some pictures with the three actors) and my Live And Let Die, Licence To Kill and Batman: The Movie DVD covers (I was hoping I could get them signed for free in addition to paying for a signed picture).
Alone and nervous, I took the two sets of escalators down to the room where the festival was taking place like I had done exactly twenty-four hours earlier. The first table I saw had a white tablecloth with stacks of Batman pictures. The sign behind the table said ADAM WEST but he was nowhere in sight. I walked a little further down the line and stopped at the table with a sign that said PRISCILLA BARNES. The table was filled with pictures from Three’s Company and Licence To Kill. Ms. Barnes was absent but there was a man sitting in her chair so I figured she either had a sex change or simply wasn’t there. I settled with the latter and moved on. You’re probably thinking to yourself right now that Friday was going to end up like the previous day but I knew it wouldn’t since I could see David Hedison sitting a few tables down.
I stopped at the table that not only had a DAVID HEDISON sign but the man was actually in his seat! He was talking to somebody so I patiently waited for my turn. I was really nervous at this point because I was standing inches away from the man who played Felix Leiter in Live And Let Die, the film that introduced me to the James Bond films. I was also nervous because I had never met a celebrity before (seeing Eddie Munster the previous day didn’t count). I introduced myself and shook his hand. I pointed to my shirt and nervously stuttered, ‘I’m a staff member at CommanderBond.net.’ He replied with, ‘Oh, so you’re a Bond guy?’ I nodded. He then pointed to each picture telling me which Bond film they were from (I knew but listened anyway). I asked him to autograph the one of him and Roger Moore in the Filet of Soul restaurant. While he was signing the picture, I asked him if he had heard about the new Felix Leiter. He replied, ‘Jeffrey Wright? He’s a very good actor.’ I agreed and asked him what he thought about Daniel Craig. He said Craig was a good choice but thought Clive Owen was going to get the role. I was happy to know that he still keeps up with the Bond franchise. I also asked him to sign my Live And Let Die and Licence To Kill DVD covers. The grand total was $40 but I was able to turn my two Special Edition DVDs into Ultimate Edition DVDs.
I thanked Mr. Hedison and left to see if Priscilla Barnes was at her table yet and she was. When it was my turn, I asked her to autograph the picture of her and Timothy Dalton cutting the wedding cake. She also signed my Licence To Kill DVD cover. After I paid her assistant she asked me, “Would you like a condom?” I was shocked, speechless and probably turned a little red. Was Priscilla Barnes advocating safe sex or did she want me to play the role of Felix Leiter in her hotel room later on? I was relieved when she pulled out plastic protection in the form of a slipcase for the picture she had just signed. I will always remember the moment when Della Churchill punk’d me!
I noticed that the guy behind me in Priscilla Barnes’s line was holding a mini Licence To Kill poster to be signed. Assuming he was a Bond fan, I introduced myself and told him that my favorite Bond film is Live And Let Die and that Roger Moore is my favorite James Bond. I was surprised when he said his name is also Chris and that we share the same favorite Bond film and actor. What are the odds? He told me he had been to CBn before but that he had never posted in the forums. He joined later that day as macgille007. I took a picture of Chris and Priscilla together and he returned the favor. He took a picture of me with Priscilla and then one with me and David. I had met both Bond actors but I still had one objective left.
I walked over to Adam West’s table and to my surprise he was nowhere to be found. His agent was sitting there so I asked him when Mr. West would be arriving. He said 1:30 so I looked at my watch and it wasn’t even one o’clock yet. While I was waiting for him I walked around the festival drooling on original movie posters for Bond films such as You Only Live Twice, Live And Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun, For Your Eyes Only, and The Living Daylights. The $400 – $600 price tags for each poster scared the living daylights out of me so I went to see the other celebrities. Unfortunately Eddie Munster, Joannie from Happy Days, and Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch didn’t interest me. Mr. West finally arrived at around 2:15. He walked down the stairs in a jacket, baseball cap and sunglasses. I followed him to his table and got in line. He sat down and immediately started signing pictures. He charged me $40 for an autograph (it would have cost another $40 to get my DVD cover signed and $10 to get a picture taken with him), shook his hand and left. I was now broke and outraged at his prices but I had got what I came for and left.
David Hedison and Priscilla Barnes are class acts and I’m glad to have met them. Meeting Adam West was cool because he’s Batman but other than that not very memorable. I forgot to ask him about On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Oh well. I’m glad George Lazenby got the role and that Michael Keaton is my favorite Batman or else I would have been extremely disappointed. I will always remember this festival because I had never met a James Bond celebrity before June 16, 2006.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland hopes it will become a regular summer event and a boost for local hotels and other businesses. The festival organizers plan on holding it annually. Hopefully that means we can expect a bigger line-up of Bond stars in the future. CommanderBond.net will keep you updated on the second annual International Sports & Entertainment Festival coming in 2007.
Check out DavidHedison.net for more pictures from the event.
Keep watching CBn for all the latest news on Casino Royale and all things James Bond 007.