Monday, July 23, 2007

Bionic Man still loved

Lee Majors a no-show at Bionicon 2

Comic-Con is a must for stars and studios pushing product to genre-conscious auds, but not every convention can boast attendance equal to the population of a small city.

Take this years' Bionicon 2 held in Burbank, Calif. (yes, there was a Bionicon 1). The gathering was dedicated to all things "Six Million Dollar Man," a love-fest for fans of the semi-robotic Steve Austin.

Some 200 diehards showed up to celebrate a weekend of not only the Bionic Man, but the Bionic Woman, and "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century." The stars were there, including Richard Anderson, Malachi Throne, Erin Gray and Gil Gerard. There was merchandise as well as autograph sessions with the stars, a banquet with the stars, a cocktail party with the stars, and photo-ops with, yes, the stars.

One lucky fan ponied up $3,300 to win an eBay auction for the grand prize: dinner with the man who was Steve Austin: Lee Majors.

There was only one problem. Majors didn't show up.

On Sunday afternoon, as word of the Six Million Dollar no-show made the rounds, the Marriott was filled with heartbreak.

In the lobby, small clusters of somber fans sat quietly.

"I drove in here from San Bernardino. I can't believe this," moaned a man clutching a vintage Six Million Dollar Man action figure.

Even Majors' fellow stars were nonplussed.

"These people come out to see us, and it's important to show up," cautioned convention circuit regular Felix Silla. The 3-foot-11 actor was the original Cousin Itt on "The Addams Family" and a baby ape in "Planet of the Apes." What was Majors thinking? The first season of his early '80s cult show "The Fall Guy" was released on DVD in June; there was product to be pushed.

"It turned out he had a film to do that weekend," explains Bionicon 2 organizer Kenneth Smith."Comic-Con is really a big commercial for the movie studios," says Smith. "We have a real hands-on approach, the fans can actually have dinner with the stars."

In theory, anyway.

"I don't know if I'm going to do another Bionicon," says Smith. "I may be too busy, I have Bionicruise coming up next year. It's the same thing as the convention but it's on the water."

At least if they manage to get Majors on the boat, he won't be able to leave.