Apr 1, 2009

Quantum Leap Convention

Last Saturday I participated in a Quantum Leap Convention. I know youre thinking 'Quantum Leap Convention? Is that like a poor man's Star Trek convention minus the costumes?

The convention commemorated the 20th anniversary of the show's launch in 1989. I was on the show twice, so I was asked to participate in a panel: talk about my experiences, answer fan questions, etc. I was there with six women and two men on the panel, all guest actors who'd appeared on the show, some of us twice. Of course no one was going to say Scott Bakula was a jerk. But that's because he wasn't. We all had the same experience on the show. I worked on some shows where the exec producer or the star was a tool, and it affected the entire mood of the set. but QL was a blast to work on ... and to a large extent because Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula were such NICE guys. Yes there ARE great people in Hollywood.

As for the Leapies. I wasn't sure what to expect. Were they going to be aging Trekkies that couldn't afford to go to Battlestar Gallactica? Would they be stalkers? Turned out they were all really nice, grateful people from all over the world -- Germany, Scotland, Australia, Chicago, Georgia -- who spent their hard-earned vacation days to show up at the Holiday Inn in North Hollywood. For a Leapie convention.


Well, I think it's because of The Story. People want good stories. The premise of QL is that Sam Beckett (Bakula) leaps from one person to another through history (only in his own lifetime, so he can't leap back before his own birth date) and finds himself in the body of someone who needs to be rescued or can rescue someone in trouble. Thus, high stakes, issues of courage, good and evil.

I had forgotten until the convention that in one two-part episode, Beckett leaps to find himself in the body of Lee Harvey Oswald. I can't remember how they managed that story. I mean, how could Beckett hope to change history? I don't even remember, but now I want to get that episode on Netflix.

So it's because of STORY that people came. I mean you're not going to find a "Two and a Half Men" convention any time soon. Quantum Leap was a terrific show. And so were the people who came to the convention. One middle aged guy brought his college age son, who'd become a Leap Fan himself.

Actors can live in a vacuum; you show up, do your work and go home. And you don't get the immediacy of a live venue to know how your work is affecting the audience. It made me feel good to know how some little thing I did 15 years ago actually made someone's day or week.

When I was 16 I went to the Beatlefest Convention in Downtown LA. I'm sure to the outsider I looked like a freak. But well, people want good stories, we want heroes. I don't feel like such a nerd anymore.


Pamela Jaye said...

Technically, it's Leapers (though I tend to go with Scott Bakula fan, and only call myself a Leaper when the alternative is "Trekker")

It *was* a good story, but the cast certainly didn't hurt.

It's amusing that you mention feedback, in a blog called "Grey Matter."
These days TV writers (and actors too, I guess, but I seem to be more blaming/praising the writers lately) can have feedback at airtime - although that's still a good while after production. I religiously read the "famous" Grey Matter - Grey's Anatomy writers' blog (though sometimes I comment first and don't read till the next morning - side effect of being on the coast that has to wait till 1am)

I've met Scott a time or 10 (not this time, alas) and it's always nice to hear (again) what the fans know: he's just nice. And that, in the end, is why I'm still a fan, 16 years later. I'm a sucker for nice.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I always tell my kids to embrace their inner nerd. I'm such a sucker for good stories.

(I can't wait to meet you this weekend. Happy travels.)

gilliebean said...

I loved that show! Yes - great story. How fun for you!

Jo said...

It was great to meet you, Susan, at 2009 The Leap Back convention. We found all the guests to be as warm and friendly toward us as you say fans were toward you.

Fandom really is a two way street. We are just as happy to meet celebs who are "people" - folks we can actually talk to and have a conversation with, albeit a short one. Thanks.

I originally tuned into Quantum Leap because it advertised as a SciFi show. I stayed because it was a human show full of warmth, caring, and understanding. It's the only TV show I've ever seen that allowed the audience to walk a mile in someone else's shoes along with Sam Beckett. Frankly, I would have walked away from some of the people he dealt with, so it was wonderful story to see how he handled such difficult personalities.

Steve said...


Great "story within a story about a Story." I just started your book and the story you are unfolding is just as interesting as the stories you write here. Thank you.

Steve in Central CA

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