LOS ANGELES, CA
Fri., Sat. & Sun.
January 30, 31, February 1, 2009
Los Angeles Marriott at LAX
5855 West Century Blvd.
Jennifer Sky Band
Jennifer Ward Lealand
2009 OFFICIAL XENA CONVENTION
Los Angeles, California, USA
January 30 - 1 February, 2009
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Con 09 LA Renee
Switching to Renee before I write up Lucy and Claire. Just ‘cause
Renee IS the second banana and I know folks are anxious to hear
about her appearance also.
Renee came onstage to huge applause and of course a standing
ovation. She walked back and forth across the stage scanning the
crowd. When we finally sat down, she just stood there for a bit
looking out at us, actually, looking right into people’s faces. It
went on for a long time, as people standing silent on a stage go.
She said, “I see you” and I believe she was sometimes pointing at
people. “I see you all.”
It reminded me of one concert that Lucy did where she did the same
thing-but at the end of her stage time. She was singing a song and
she scanned along the rows, looking into each person’s face and for
just a second or so, sang directly to each individual.
Renee was different than other times she’s appeared at cons. She was
much more relaxed and yeah, confident. She stood taller? Stood
quieter maybe and didn’t do a lot of the cute little “Aw shucks,
golly gee” movements she usually does. No giggling or windmilling of
her arms. She used to not exactly fidget, I wouldn’t say, but in the
past there was to me a much greater feel of her being aware she was
on stage, that she, as herself, was the center of attention and she
wasn’t totally comfortable with that. She was always cute and funny
and talkative, but kind of, shoot, not unfocused, but rather
hyper-focused, always aware that we were all looking at her-and we
were looking at HER-she wasn’t playing a character. (Although she
did play a character at two cons in the L.A. area. She played in
“Love Letters” with Michael Hurst and she played a number of
vignettes as different characters a few years ago.) Neither of those
times did she also appear just as herself to talk with us.
It’s hard to define-because while I felt that Renee wasn’t always
comfortable being onstage at a con in the past (and indeed, mostly
only was there if Lucy was always there), I didn’t consciously think
about how to me Renee showed this through having a kind of nervous
energy when she appeared-until it wasn’t here today.
She’s always been friendly and gracious and fun to watch. But
suddenly, this time, we got a woman of great poise and confidence,
one who had things she really wanted to tell us about and one who
owned that stage and knew it. It’s like before she was borrowing it
and was doing something as a favor to us. This time, she owned it
and I had the feeling she really, truly wanted to be there.
Good for her.
I got curious wondering what she’ll be like when she gets on stage
with Lucy. She’s always “interviewing” Luce and always wants to put
the spotlight on her. Well, we’ll just see later, won’t we?
Renee talked about “Process”. “How to sustain yourself, how to keep
a life in this. How do you live here in your own unique way?”
She said she was going to show us “Words Unspoken”, the new movie
she wrote, directed, produced and starred in. She told us she was
going to submit it to various film festivals. And that she had
gotten the germ of an idea for it, “Ten years ago. I was on the Xena
set reading in the paper about a guy who had fulfilled his father’s
dying wish.” Now I don’t remember if she said if the real life guy’s
story included a motorcycle or not. Hmmm.
She told us she didn’t want anyone to take any pictures or certainly
not to film her movie. She was very stern with us on this.
(Something she has NEVER been before with us-grin.) She let us know
she was very serious. She stood there looking around and said more
than once that she didn’t want any pictures of it to go out before
she put it in festivals. And she said she would wait until everyone
put their cameras down. She stood there and waited. And waited. And
said again that everybody had to put their cameras down. And waited
again-until she didn’t see anymore cameras up and poised to shoot.
Then she started the movie.
She said, “Open up your hearts. Remember, we’re all in this
Since she was so careful about-oh, hell, ya know what? I BET she’s
thinking of Youtube. Just about all of Lucy’s concert has already
been stolen and posted up on Youtube. I don’t think there’s one song
that isn’t up on there. In varying degrees of quality.
And I bet that’s it-that Renee figures if we get pictures of it,
it’s going to be on there.
Anyway, since she was so careful about protecting her film, I don’t
really want to give the story out. She’s in it and does a very good
job of acting. Her honey, Jed Sura, is also in it, playing a
character named Charles. And so is her son, Miles. Miles is seen in
flashbacks, playing the young Charles. In the flashbacks, we see
that the dad (maybe stepdad?) was very mean and abusive to Charles.
(I’m telling you this stuff so you understand her comments on it
When the film was over, we of course all applauded madly. It was
about 12 minutes long. I thought it was very good. Well done, good
production values for a little independent film, nicely edited.
There was music by Emily Saliers played under the ending credits.
One cute little touch-in the “Thanks to” section of the credits,
Renee lists Iris O’Connor as someone to be thanked.
The minute the lights came up and the applause stopped, Renee said,
“No children were injured.”
She told us there was “A kernel of truth in it. Some of it is my own
truth.” Renee has talked in the past about her and her brother
having an abusive stepfather in their lives for a while. And that
her mother was also abused by this person, along with the kids. I’ve
always been so impressed with Renee’s willingness to talk about this
with us. She makes herself very vulnerable to us. But talking about
it, admitting it, surely has to be part of a healing process, a way
to say, “This happened-but it wasn’t my fault”..
Renee asked if we had any questions about the film. Well, of course
we did. One woman raised her hand and then refused to stand up when
Renee asked her to. There was a little battle of wills there for a
moment. Renee didn’t win.
I think a question was on how do you make an independent film,
something along those lines. Renee said you had to believe in
whatever you had chosen to do. Stay with it, say what you want to
(More other con-going fan help filling in the following paragraph:)
Renee said she had told one of the Creation guys that “This is a
party killer”, a serious film. And that she hoped it wouldn’t spoil
the fun mood at the con. But no, I didn’t feel that happening. While
it was a very moving film, I think because it was a work done by one
of "our" stars, it was very much just another part of the
convention. It was appreciated, and just like when Renee did her
monologues one year, many of which were very edgy and grim and could
be considered downers, we liked the work and accepted it as a gift
from Renee to us.
She told us it was a five day shoot.
“I felt very comfortable directing because I was so well prepared.”
She did an improvisation with the nurse who was taking care of the
father in the hospital. Renee wanted her to be judgmental. She also
did an improv with Jed. She said something like, some of you may
know that Jed is. . . ummm, I don’t remember what she said. My
boyfriend? In my life? There was laughter about this as if WE
wouldn’t know that.
She said when she and Jed did the improv, “We were like little
kids”. They went to a playground and went on the swings. In the
story, they played sister and brother, so I guess it was background.
Talking about the theme of the movie, Renee said, “Who has the right
to say what’s someone else’s right way to die?”
She talked about her shooting style. “I like my shots to be
moving-that looks more cinematic to me.”
She told us they only had two tiny jail cells to work in. And they
had to figure out “How to make it look like more?”
She was asked about the mother who didn't appear in the film. Like,
would she be in the final version. Renee said this was the complete
film, so no, there would be nothing about the mother.
Renee seemed just really interested in our views about the movie.
She was almost using us a focus group, very interested in what we
said or asked about it. She was very intense and absorbed in hearing
what our reactions to the film were. She was also very confident
about what she had created. Like, the question about the mother-it
didn’t faze her at all-it seemed that she had obviously thought the
story over and had decided that the story was about the children and
the man and the mother wasn’t necessary to tell this story.
She was asked about working with Miles. She told us he has no
interest in acting. “but he’s very open-hearted”. So they’d shoot a
scene and “That was it. Miles was done.” I believe she indicated
that they had to work on editing his scenes to get in everything she
needed for the story.
I’m not sure how it came up, but she mentioned that as she was
working on her latest project, a web-based science fiction show
called “Arc” (Wait-maybe it’s Ark-hell, now I gotta go look it up.)
It’s “Ark”. D’oh!
Renee said that while filming Ark, she was always watching the crew,
seeing how they worked, the ways they did things. She said she
literally made a list of folks from that shoot whom she’d like to
have work with her on “Words Unspoken”. And she got all if not most
of them to do that.
Now my next sentence says, “Sexuality on screen-Chicago”. I had NO
idea what that meant. However, once again a helpful fan came to the
rescue after reading my first draft of this report.
She said that the question was about one of the Coffee Talk tapes.
Renee had said in an interview that she didn’t know her sexuality
until she met Lucy. I think a fan sent this quote to Sharon to ask
Renee about it on the next Coffee Talk tape. What I remember from
watching that tape is poor Renee being massively pregnant with Iris
and in the bathroom and Lucy reading her comment through the door to
her and then screeching with laughter as she demanded to know, "What
did you MEAN by that?" And I believe Renee's main response was to
flush the toilet. And yeah, I guess that was brought up again at the
Chicago con. And was again not answered fully. Grin. (Or course, as
we all know, Renee is the original Lawlesbian. And still one of the
strongest straight chick Lucy lovers ever.)
There was a guy from the Ark project who came out on stage with her
for a bit. I have written down, “Ten page discussion. Coffee or tea.
Ten PAGES!” I don’t remember if this coffee or tea question came
from a fan or from the Ark project guy. I was later informed that it
was a fan question. And that Renee said the fan was cheeky and that
she herself was a coffee drinker.
The Ark project guy who I think is the writer, director, producer?
of the project was an odd duck. Kind of giggly and very VERY
fast-talking. And flitting around topics also. HE looked like he’d
fit right in at a cult show con, heck he could be in OUR audience.
The Ark guy came and went at least twice if not three times during
the rest of Renee’s single time on stage. (You know, that guy was so
weird, it coulda been Lucy in costume, disrupting things as a prank
again. But it wasn’t. Or if it was, she forgot to tell us it was.)
I think it was the first time he came out that he showed us clips
from what will be the first episode of Ark. The set-up for the show.
It featured Renee of course. And it looks interesting-her character
lies down on a couch and wakes up um, not on the couch-I HATE
spoilers. Go watch it and see what happens.
He talked about special effects and I THINK he said that everything
is done against a green screen to be filled in later by computer
Renee was asked something like how do you know when your film is
finished, how do you know when to declare it ready. She said, “You
have to know when to walk away from a project and start the next
one.” Not sure if Renee or the fan (but I think it was Renee) said,
“Is it good? Or not good?” “Good.” “We’ll go with that.” (That made
The Ark guy was out again. He was like teasing Renee a lot. He
brought up how she tried to “steal my crew” for her movie. And I
think he said that he’d heard her say she’d swung that.
He said he’s read some online Xena fan lists and said that the fans
should be ashamed of themselves for the things they say about Renee.
I’m guessing it’s probably the usual-like, “She’s so hot!” type of
things. I think he was teasing.
He left again and then Renee got a question about what in Gabrielle
would she like to be in her own life. “I love that Gabrielle is a
healer. How can I take that characteristic of hers and make that
part of my life?”
Renee ended by talking about movie making. That she keeps a workbook
and something about wanting to facilitate – uh, movies? Maybe
It was very interesting and charming to me when these last questions
came up, Renee suddenly got into a speech pattern I’ve heard her use
before, when she’s really thinking about what she’s saying. She
talks slowly but she also kind of sustains the sound of some of the
syllables so she kind of draws the word out as she’s thinking over
what she’s saying. She’s done this at cons, in some interviews,
sometimes in the Creation “Coffee Talk” chats she has with Lucy.
This was the first time in this appearance that I’d noticed her
I think it was in Ark that the writers or the crew, someone said,
“Why don’t you use a staff?” And Renee just went, “Oooooooooo.”
And then it was Lucy’s turn to come on stage for her solo bit. The
pattern is that first we have Renee, then we have Lucy, then we have
them both together.