Photos contributed by Susan Dewell, Diane Golomb and Diane Smith
Burbank CA -- Saturday, 12 June 1999. AgamemCon
III was held at the Hilton near Burbank Airport. James Morrison stopped by to
visit the Space Ready Reserve table. Situated next to the SRR table was a table
set up by the PREYmates. Morrison appeared in three episodes of the TV series
PREY. What follows are field reports by two of the PREYmates meeting James
Morrison for the first time and one Space Ready Reservist already familiar.
"What is a PREYmate?" by PREYmate Carol (edited for content)
Like SAAB fans have been trying to doing for SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND, we PREY fans have been trying to do for PREY -- bring it back to television. PREY, a Warner Brothers production, was dealt the deathblow by ABC when that network, the Abysmal Broadcasting Company, gave PREY a horrendous time slot. They pit it against the 1998 Winter Olympics and NBC's FRIENDS, gave it scant advertising, preempted it several times, then placed it on hiatus before airing the final 5 episodes during the summer. They claimed the ratings were low. We replied, "No one knew it was on." Word eventually reached us that even though ABC had a contract with Warner Brothers, and that the first episode received a very positive audience response, ABC aired PREY only under pressure and very reluctantly.
Our campaign to save PREY began shortly before the May 1998 AgamemCon II/BABYLON 5 convention also held in Burbank, California. It was there that we first met Kate Duncan, Barry Caldwell (who used to work on PREY and put up the first PREY web site), and many other SAAB fans, whose table was next to ours. It has been a good relationship, and since then we have set up our tables next to each other when we're both attending the same conventions. But the relationship goes further than that, for James Morrison of SAAB also starred in several episodes of PREY.
Hence, when Kate told us on Day 1 of this convention that James would be visiting the SAAB table on Day 2, there was great excitement at our table. That should be pretty evident by my post below, and I'll let my post do the talking.
"Notes from the PREYground, and a word or two from James"
Two more PREYmates arrived at the con today, Judy A and Dot. Two of the luckiest PREYmates to roam L.A., because this is the day that we all met James Morrison. Diane G, Michelle and I were watching an Area 51 visual effects presentation (given by Glenn Campbell, who did visual effects for SAAB). We stayed for the next presentation, but Michelle returned to the PREY table. Dot then arrived and joined us.
In the middle of the presentation, Michelle came in looking for us. We had given her strict instructions that if anyone from PREY arrived, she was to come and get us immediately. We bolted from the seats and practically ran up the aisle to the PREY table, which was next to the SAAB table. Standing there in all his glory was "Lewis."
Since he stood there a long time speaking with someone at the SAAB table, we just stood there and ogled him. He was facing sideways, so he didn't see the PREY table or those of us already taking pictures of him. Some of us moved behind the PREY table to get a better angle. And let me say that all angles looked pretty good. Eventually, Kate Duncan steered him in our direction, which was only a few inches away. He walked over and shook hands with all of us. Believe me, when James looks you in the eye, you know you've been looked at. And he looked at us DIRECTLY numerous times. Luckily, no one hit the floor in his presence.
He said that he didn't know we were going to be here, and he looked at the stuff on the PREY table. We pointed out the magnets that had Lewis on them, and he smiled. We had located and were playing the scene when Lewis kneels down in front of Sloan and places his fingers on her mouth. He saw the scene and said that he had improvised that. He mentioned that Debra (Messing) was very sweet. He also said that Lewis was a good character and hoped that Lewis would be back in future episodes. We agreed with him!
He stayed at the table a while chatting with us. He asked if anyone else from PREY had come. We told him that we had invited Debra and Adam (Storke), and he asked if we had invited Larry. (No, we hadn't.) He said that he thought Larry Drake would have come. Okay, so Larry gets an invite next convention. Diane G asked him to sign the guest book, and he obliged. He later signed the first page of our copy of "Welcome to the World of Prey Poetry." I then gave him 2 magnets, one of the cast of PREY, the other of Lewis with his fingers on Sloan's mouth. He joked with us and said that he did that to his wife. He placed the magnets in the pocket of his long-sleeved white shirt.
By the way, he is aware of fan fiction written about him but hinted that he didn't read it.
Since he had his picture taken with a fan only moments ago, we asked if we could have a group picture with him. Once again, he said yes. This man is VERY obliging and VERY VERY nice and down-to-earth. Oh, and yes, he does have beautiful blue eyes, silvery hair, and NO hair on his face. I managed to get myself right next to James for the group photo, and hallelujah he put his arm around me (and one around Michelle on the other side) and I put my arm around him!
Diane G mentioned to him that she and Dot had seen him in a play several months ago in Hollywood, THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL. He was surprised that they had seen it because not that many people had attended. I commented that I had seen him in many small roles on TV that didn't do justice to his talent and wanted to see him in better parts. He seemed pleased, if a bit embarrassed. He mentioned that even after SAAB, he had to "read" for THE WONDER CABINET because the Fox executives didn't know who he was, even though SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND had been a Fox production. They were all new executives.
James mentioned that he was in a new movie called ABILENE and that he played a good guy this time. He invited us all to a screening of ABILENE at the Director's Guild in Hollywood and said to bring our friends. Since the Guild must have the names of people attending, we gave our names to Kate Duncan to make arrangements with James and the Director's Guild. The showing is this Friday afternoon. I guess several of us are going to be sick that day. I can feel an illness coming on.
We wanted to find out something about Adam before James left, but we were all chicken. Finally, I said that we were big fans of Adam Storke. James glanced at our tee shirts and Adam pix on the wall, and said, "I can tell." He seemed amused by it. I got up my nerve at last to ask James about Adam but the only question I could think of was, "Is Adam shy?" He considered this a while before answering and then said yes. But he also said that he didn't know him very well and didn't see him that much on the set. However, he and Adam did play their guitars together. James said that he was getting back to playing after being away from it for 20 years. He didn't mention what they were playing, but we do know that Adam knows the tune and lyrics to "Eve of Destruction" (see Stephen King's THE STAND).
Oh, one last thing... the movie ABILENE is terrific... and James was wonderful in it. We thank him for his invitation to see it. And forgive me, James, if I have misreported any comments that you made to us Saturday at the convention. We were all pretty excited.
AgamemCon III, June 12th, by Diane Golomb
I was at AgamemCon III too, and I'll try not to repeat everything that Carol already said, but I'll probably repeat a few things! I think that Carol's post, which explained how we were attending one of the presentations when we were "summoned" back to our table because someone had arrived! Kate had mentioned that James Morrison might show, and then as we approached our table I saw the back of this man with silver hair standing at the SAAB table. I remember rushing around to the side to get a better look. Man was I excited when I saw that it really was James standing there! I stationed myself behind the PREY table, and James was only a few inches away. I snapped a few shots of him talking to other people. A couple of times he looked directly at me, but I certainly wasn't going to stick the camera right in his face, so I didn't take any pictures of him then. Kate Duncan graciously steered James our way, and I shook hands with him -- as did everyone else. He chatted with us for a while, and he was very attentive to everyone with whom he spoke. He's very attractive and graceful, and he certainly has charisma and a certain presence about him! He was very down to earth, friendly, appreciative of fan support, and seemed to be a very nice man.
I invited him to sign our guest book. Carol and I motioned to each other. We wanted him to sign something else too, and I looked at the folder that we had of PREY poetry, written by various PREY fans, and thought that that was the right item. Carol asked him to sign her copy too, and I remember him lifting up his knee, placing the poetry folder against his thigh and signing his name on the top sheet.
He took a group photo with all of us and continued to chat for a bit afterwards. I mentioned that I had enjoyed seeing him perform in THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL (which played in a small theater in Hollywood several months ago). He seemed pleased and surprised, since so few people had turned out for the play. Carol mentioned something to him about having seen him in various small roles that didn't do him justice, and how she hoped that he would find roles worthy of his talent. He seemed pleased by the compliment and a bit embarrassed too! He talked about "reading" for THE WONDER CABINET, despite having done SAAB -- and I believe that Carol described all of this. It was in the context of that conversation that he invited us all to come to the ABILENE screening. I am, as you already know, VERY happy that I was able to attend!
I love the character of McQueen that James portrayed in SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND. He is an honorable, tortured man, who has experienced much pain in his life. He has an inner struggle with his emotions, and he has experienced betrayal on various levels. In the episode "Mutiny," he told Hawkes that he didn't seek out his family, not because he was afraid of what he would find but because he was afraid of what he would feel. I think that one of the great tragedies of the in-vitros is their lack of family, their emergence into the world without love and nurturing. How does one learn to feel for others or to find any solace in life without that love? That scene was for me one of the most moving and heartbreaking moments that I've ever seen in SAAB.
There's a great irony then in JM playing Lewis on PREY, since 1.6ers have emotions that are repressed, whether by genetics or culture or both. James was great as Lewis -- fascinating, sensual, dangerous, ruthless. But he was not appealing to me because he was just too dangerous and hard. And he used his sensuality and sexuality as a weapon against Sloan, to intimidate her, and I found that chilling. But I definitely wanted to see more of Lewis. I wanted to learn more about him and about what made him tick. He was a great character.
AgamemCon III, June 11-13, by Susan Dewell
Once again, I traveled to California to attend a science fiction convention and join my fellow SAABers for the 2nd annual Space Ready Reserve R & R. I knew in advance most of the cast/crew of SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND had prior commitments, but it still promised to be a fun weekend. Our Commanding Officer, Kate Duncan, had scheduled the R & R for Saturday night and confirmed were Geoffrey Mandel (Graphic Artist) and Glenn Campbell (Visual Effects Supervisor). James Morrison promised he would try to attend.
Friday evening, Kate talked to James and learned he would be unable to attend the R & R, but he would drop by the Space Ready Reserve table sometime Saturday. He had something he wanted to donate to the club. She said he sounded exhausted on the telephone, and we wondered if he was suffering from "new parent syndrome."
Saturday morning, before leaving to open the table, Kate tried to reach James to confirm what time he planned to drop by, but missed him. After we set up the SRR table, we learned Glenn Campbellís discussion had been accidentally left off the program. Quickly, we were distracted with taping notices to walls so attendees wouldnít miss Glennís presentation. Kristian Sorensen and John-Bro Wilkie, who both played Chigs on SPACE, joined us at our table. Between Geoffrey Mandel and Glenn Campbellís discussions, working out the logistics of who would make the grocery store run and what did we want to buy, I sort of forgot that James might show up at any moment.
I was looking for something in the boxes of supplies behind the table when I noticed our neighbors, the PREYmates, were very excited about something. When I stood up, there was James standing in front of our table talking to Kate and Glenn. I had thought I would be better prepared for seeing him again. After meeting him for the first time at Fantasticon í97 and spending a little time with him, I thought this year I could keep my wits about me. Wrong. I eased out from behind the table and moved closer to him. No, I wasnít going to fling myself at him, but I did want to say, "Hi." When he saw me, he said, "Susan, hi, how are you?" I was amazed he remembered me (and wondered "is this a good thing or a bad thing?"). I told him hello and congratulations. While these words were being uttered, he stepped over and gave me a little hug. At that point, I decided his memory of me must have been a good thing.
When asked, James admitted he didnít have any pictures of the baby with him. He didnít have any billfold size and had left the house without remembering to bring any of the others. I couldnít resist; I wanted to tease him just a little bit. I said something to the effect of "uh oh, the Fatherhood Committee wouldnít like to hear about that." He said the baby was doing great and had started sleeping through the night. He looked every inch the proud father when asked about Seamus.
I had brought my Marine stuffed bear (wearing dress blues) with me to the convention. I asked James if he would sign it, and he graciously agreed. He gave Kate a packet of several SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND scripts of his, all autographed, for the fan club. While he was there, he signed a few photos. Kate introduced him to all the fans at our table (including our German JMDGer Maike). Itís been mentioned before, but Iíll say it again. James looks everyone in the eyes, listens to them, and focuses on them. You could see everyoneís face light up with pleasure.
Earlier that morning, a woman had stopped by the table and we had talked about the show. McQueen/Morrison was her favorite. She asked if James would be attending the R & R, and I had to say no. As Kate was introducing James to everyone, I saw this woman down the hall at another table. I hustled myself over to her and said, "you need to come back to our tableÖ now." I didnít wait for an answer; I hurried back to the cluster of people surrounding James.
Kate had introduced him to the PREYmates, and he was visiting with them. He signed their guest book and posed for pictures. The McQueen fan arrived back at our table and was thrilled to see James. She quickly bought one of our photos and asked James to sign it. He was very gracious and spoke to her while he signed the photo. From that point on, whenever I saw this woman (and I never did learn her name), she smiled and said "thanks." Meeting James was the highlight of her weekend.
We didnít want to impose on James. We knew he planned to drop off the scripts and say Hi and be on his way. If possible, we would have kept him there the rest of the day. I asked Kate if she planned to escort James out of the building. She had. I suggested we both should escort him, just to be safe, you understand. Smiling, she agreed.
A couple of dealers (they must have some sort of ESP) appeared and asked James to sign photos, which he did with a smile. When asked, he said he didnít have anything going on at the moment. I asked if there was any chance of THE WONDER CABINET getting picked up as a midseason replacement. He didnít think so.
To be honest, I have no idea how long James was there. It might have been 30 minutes; it may have been an hour. As we walked James out to his car, he promised he would have pictures next time. Then he was gone.
As to specifics, in all honesty, he did look tired. He was wearing dark jeans, a white tee shirt with a white, long-sleeve cotton shirt. His hair was a little tousled and he had some beard stubble. In other words, he looked absolutely wonderful.
I wish I could say this account is 100% accurate, but I canít even attest to that. I "believe" this to be right. I "think" this is what happened. Iím sure those of you who have met him will understand. When those eyes turn on you, and he gives you that megawatt smile, the rest of the world gets a little fuzzy and your brain has a difficult time keeping track. I do, hereby, solemnly promise, if I ever get another chance to meet James, I will do my level best to pay attention to what is going on. No guarantees though, you understand.
Sunday evening, Kate and I were at a dealerís table looking through their folder of SPACE photos. The dealers were a husband and wife team. The wife, upon noticing what we were looking at, made the comment, "I heard James Morrison was here yesterday." We told her yes he was.
Wife: And I missed him? Donít tell me that! How did he look? Us: He looked really tired. Wife: Donít tell me that. Us: Yeah, he was wearing a rumpled cotton shirt. Wife: Oh, donít tell me that! Us: His hair was a little tousled and he had a little beard stubble. Wife: Donít tell me that. Us: He looked great. Her husband, rolling his eyes in mock disgust, growled, "look at them, theyíre glowing."
And we were.