Friday, December 26, 2008

Wrap Up Flashback - The 2007 Superman Celebration - Metropolis, IL - June 9, 2007 - Helen Slater, Jerry Maren, Noel Neill

On to the 29th Annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis. I attended the Celebration and had a good time. Bummer of the show was that Erica Durance from Smallville wasn't there as, according to the Celebration's message board, she had to cancel earlier in the week due to an illness and the doctors not allowing her to fly. Good size crowd but not as big as in past years especially last year when Michael Rosenbaum was there. It was packed last year. Beautiful weather for this thing too. Some of the best weather that I can remember. I usually leave hot and sun burnt but not today. The celebrities in attendance were Helen Slater who played Super Girl in the Super Girl movie, Noel Neill who played Lois Lane in the Adventures of Superman series and also the first lady of Metropolis, and Jerry Maren who played Mole Man in one of the original Superman movies but is most famously known to me and many others as one of the Lollipop Guild in The Wizard Of Oz. Seeing Jerry Maren was just great!! I got to see a part of movie history seeing someone that was actually in The Wizard Of Oz. I mostly know Helen Slater from Legend Of Billie Jean as I've never seen Super Girl. Noel Neill is always a pleasure to see. She is a class act for sure. She got a standing ovation when she was introduced. All three of them were a lot of fun at the Q&A. Maren was also joined by his wife, Elizabeth, who has done quite a bit of work in the entertainment industry as well. Awards were handed out at the end of the Q&A. Jerry Maren was given a Superman of Metropolis Award. Helen Slater was given a Supergirl award as they said that they believe that she is the first Supergirl to appear at the Celebration. They added that they are running out of things for Noel Neill to give to her. They announced that next year that the Noel Neill statue would be unveiled at the 30th Superman Celebration as they had found out that next year will be the 60th anniversary of Noel playing Lois Lane and with it being the 30th anniversary show that next year is the perfect year to unveil it. The Q&A went for about 45 minutes or so.

Here are some of the quotes from the Q&A session that I typed up.

Helen Slater:

How much time do you estimate that you were attached to wires during the filming of Super Girl and were you afraid of heights?
"When I was learning to fly to make the movie, I spent a lot of time in the wires. I would say probably 3 or 4 months of training getting in shape. I was in the wires for 2 months of it, everyday, for 2 or 3 hours. I wasn't scared in the beginning cause they only raised me 3 or 4 feet. I do remember the first time that I was raised 40 or 50 feet and being very nervous. I think because I was 18, I was able to do it. I remember singing Hello Dolly to myself quietly as they were raising me up. Having to do the first somersault from that high up was scary. Singing helped. (laughing) The flying sequences were usually done in 2 to 3 days for each line sequence."

Did you do much research with the comic books or watch the original show to help with the role of Supergirl?
"I was telling Noel how much I loved that series as a little girl growing up. I loved the Superman movies too as I was 16 or 17 around when 1 & 2 came out. I wasn't as familiar with the comic books. I now have a daughter and she has gotten into the Supergirl comics. Now, I've kind of traced it back. It's great."

Is Super Girl your signature movie role?
"It opened doors for me. I always feel very grateful and lucky that I was able to fill that part. "

What was it like to work with Peter O'Toole?
"A fan last night said that they could watch Peter read the phone book and it would be entertaining and I agree. In the Phantom Zone, I have a memory and I think it is in the film. He was in the phantom zone and the wind was blowing and he was using his whole body (to physically portray it) and I'm just kind of like walking through the Phantom Zone and the wind is blowing through my hair. I look at it now and I smile thinking he had the wisdom to use his whole body acting like it was rough. I wish the director had said "can you come up to Peter O'Toole's level there? You look like you're in the mall". (laughing) I had a great time with him. "

What was it like to work with Michael J. Fox on The Secret Of My Success? What kind of guy was he?
"He was just a really fun, joking guy. He set a great example and treated everyone equally like you should do but many actors don't. He was kind to everyone and I had a great time working with him."

What was it like meeting Christopher Reeve?
"Fantastic. I met him when the premiere of Superman 3 was happening and we were filming Supergirl. When I met Chris, we became friends and we were back in New York City one night around Central Park West sitting on a park bench. All the sudden there were these fire engines zooming by like there was something big going on but we didn't know what it was and it was loud with three fire engines flying by. Chris turned to me and said "here we are, Superman and Supergirl and we can't do a darn thing."

Was there ever any talk of putting you and Christopher Reeve together?
"I think there originally was a plan for Chris to be in the Supergirl movie. Then, something happened. I don't know if it was a time commitment or another movie. He was supposed to be in it but then they changed that."

Were there anymore Supergirl movies planned?
"There were. I think because it wasn't a commercial success that they just decided not to do it."

Would you be interested in playing the role of Super Girl again if you were asked?
"(Laughing) Oh my gosh, I'm 43!!!. (Pauses) Sure. (Laughing)."
Moderator: The costume has changed somewhat since you were Supergirl. What do you think of the new Super Girl costume?
Not everyone has seen it so Slater brings up a fan that is dressed with the new Super Girl costume which consists of a skirt and half top.
Moderator: Would you want to wear that costume?
Slater: "Oh gosh no!"

A fan asks: Do you think they'll do a sequel to your Supergirl movie?
"I think if they do it, if they're smart, they'll revamp it and find a great story to tell."
The fan replies: Well, I hope they get you to play the part cause you're super fine.
She replies: "Aww, thank you. (laughing) My hunch is though that they didn't find a strong enough story that captures girls' imaginations. It's very complicated, a supergirl movie as successful as it was overseas."

Moderator: With the success of Smallville, could they do like something like that show and tweak Supergirl to where it could work?
"I hope they would. Especially with the success of the TV show Heroes with figuring out a way to hybrid Superman and Supergirl with real life into a small town life. I think it would be great. "

What did you like about doing The Legend Of Billie Jean?
"I had a great time doing that movie and it was kind of a modern day Joan of Arc story also kind of a superhero story oddly enough. Memories of all of us kids working together and working in Corpus Christi, Texas which is a beautiful part of the country. The shocking part of all of it was having to cut off all my hair halfway through the movie. I remember people working on the movie thinking that I didn't look good at all without the hair. I remember the guy in the catering truck as I came up to get my lunch going "ooooohhhh" (with bad look on his face)."

Noel Neill:

Noel was asked what she thought of the Hollywoodland movie and the portrayal of George Reeves.
"I'm going to watch my words and keep my mouth shut for a change. (crowd cheers her on to talk about it. LOL). Of course George is so hard to duplicate. We love George very much. There were a lot of things in the picture that weren't true. At the end, they left the two versions of what happened to George up to you on what happened to him. They allowed the viewer to pick and choose what they thought happened. They still don't really know what happened. Except that he didn't commit suicide." (She has been very vocal about that every year that I've been there).

Would you have liked to have seen more of a romance between Superman and Lois in the original series?
"I didn't think it was going to go anywhere. The thing is that Kelloggs had a big investment with the New York office of our show. They wanted to keep it for the kids. They said we're selling cereal for the children and we don't want any love and this and that and the other thing. I know that in the first movie with Chris that they married supposedly, Lois and Superman. The idea really tanked as far as the public was concerned. They should stay away from that. Until this last one where she had a child." (crowd laughs).

What was your favorite episode of the show?
"I have a couple of them. One I liked was the Tomb of Zaharan . I liked the wig I wore and tried to buy it from them but couldn't. The one that I dreamt that I married Clark Kent and found out that they were one of the same. That was my favorite one."

Did you realize what kind of impact that this show was going to have?
"No, we didn't think so at the time. One funny story at the time was that Jack's agent said to Jack that he had a job for him for 12 or 13 weeks. Jack said well I really want to go to New York to act. His agent said Jack, just do the show, do the 15 weeks, take the money and go back to New York. No one will ever see this show. (laughing). Now, here we are."

Jerry Maren:

What were your memories of working with George Reeves?
"I didn't work with him very much but he was a nice man. "

What was your most fondest memories of The Wizard Of Oz?
Jerry: "Meeting Judy Garland. She was a lovely little lady. She was an angel. That was all there was to it. "
Elizabeth: "You were in love with her."
Jerry: "Well maybe. Everyone was in love with her. Are you kidding? I had to stand in line. (crowd is cracking up laughing) She was always busy. When she was done with a scene, they used to grab her and take her to school as she had to have her schooling. That was the most important thing in those days. They had two people that grabbed her right away to school. (Continuing on with the question) Meeting 124 other little people."

In The Wizard Of Oz, how long did it take you to get that song the Lollipop Guild down pat?
"It took me two minutes. It's all the same words." (lots of laughs and applause).

Do you have any idea of how much of the original cast is living?
"There are only 9 munchkin people left out of 124. We've outlived all of them."

Miscellaneous Questions For Everyone:

Question for Helen and Noel: Would you consider taking a cameo on Smallville?
Slater: "Oh gosh. That would be great. That's a great show."
Neill: "They always say they'd love to have me but haven't called." (laughing).

Question for the whole group. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Elizabeth Maren: "X-Ray Vision."
Jerry Maren: "She was ready, wasn't she?" (commenting on his wife's quick answer). "I'd like to get the daily double from every race track in one day."
Slater: "I'd like to be able to fly."
Neill: "I'd probably be somebody that owned the darn show. "

After the Q&A finished, I roamed around checking out the festivities and other events happening. I watched an impressive BMX biking performance. Lots of tricks and all. Checked out the Super Museum which was packed with people.

Overall, a really good time. The show definitely needed a Smallville presence but life happens. With next year being the 30th anniversary show, I fully expect them to have a big lineup. Take care and God bless!!

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