This is a placeholder for my review of the first episode of Disney XD’s ‘Star Wars Rebels’ that was screened last night to an invitation-only crowd at San Diego Comic-Con. It is a placeholder because I did not have the opportunity to actually attend the screening held at the Reading Theater in the Gaslamp District. Perhaps when I actually get to see ‘Star Wars Rebels,’ I will update this article. Until then, this is a placeholder. And in order to fill the space which is being held, I will indulge my self and explain just why it’s a placeholder.
Admittedly my decision to attend San Diego Comic-Con came very late in the game — almost cost prohibitively so — so I wasn’t necessarily keeping up with all of the news. I learned about the screening on Tuesday, so I immediately sent an email to the show’s press relations people at both Disney and Lucasfilm. As I had actually recently met him in New York, I also included Chris Argyropoulos at Lucasfilm for good measure.
Fast forward to Thursday morning and of the four people I emailed, zero had responded. Zero. This is mildly understandable since preparation for Comic-Con was in full swing and email does tend to get piled up, despite them media representatives. So I re-sent the email on Thursday morning just to hedge my bet. This time, a response.
The first response came from Chrissy Woo at Disney (interestingly enough, this is not my first email to Chrissy that she blatantly ignored), which explained it was by invitation only and was full. Okay, this is fine, this is life. That email, however, was followed up by one from Tracy Cannobbio from Lucasfilm. While Tracy confirmed what Chrissy had said, she also added that they were asking people to show up at the theater at 7:30 pm anyway just in case some invitees don’t show, to fill seats, with no promise of being admitted in. She even provided the address and cross streets. Again, this is fine. This is actually slightly better than fine, this is almost hopeful.
Immediately after the ‘Star Wars Rebels’ screening, I dropped off my things at the hotel next door to the Convention Center and walked over to the theater in the Gaslamp District, arriving a few minutes after 7:30. At that time a small crowd of invitees had formed, but they had not yet begun checking people in. I found a young woman whose identity I don’t know working the screening and explained the situation and showed her the email from Tracy. She very cordially added my name to a list on the back of her invitee list (I was the second addition) and asked me to wait nearby and she would talk to Tracy and see if anything remained available after all had checked in.
So I waited. And waited. And waited. Approximately 45 minutes later, some time after every one had checked in, I caught the attention of the woman who I had spoken to. ‘You’re still here?’ she asked, at which point I responded that I guess I’m out of luck. She beckoned me over and told me — in good faith — she would get me in. She then turned to Chrissy Woo and I introduced myself. Chrissy very kindly offered to let me attend the screening and handed me a yellow wristband — this is important, because yellow was for fans, while red was for VIP. Chrissy warned me the screening was pretty full, but to tell the people upstairs to seat me in VIP if they needed to.
Well, she didn’t quite hand it to me, but dangled it in front of me, so I thought she was going to put it on me as wristbands aren’t usually just handed out to put on at your own discretion. Chrissy clearly clarified by looking at me with disgust, saying ‘I’m not going to put it on you.’ Okay, fine. I misunderstood, I’ll put it on myself, no big deal. Before I could, however, the unidentified woman offered to put it on for me.
So armed with a wristband, I immediately went to head up to the screening where an elderly curmudgeon of a rent-a-cop stopped me at the base of the escalator. ‘Where are you going?’ he demanded. ‘I’m going upstairs to the screening,’ and flashed my wristband. ‘You can’t go up there,’ he barked. ‘What do you mean I can’t go up there? I have a wristband.’ ‘You’re too late.’ ‘They just gave it to me!’ I tried to explain, but he wasn’t having it. Fortunately Chris Argyropoulos — who didn’t recognize me by the way — offered to escort me up. I re-introduced myself to Chris on the way up (we had met all of a month ago afterall) and he asked me if I had attended the panel and I told him I had and was super stoked for the show. ‘That’s great,’ he says as he tells me to join the end of a small line of about 20 with yellow wristbands outside the theater waiting to see if any seats were still available. I guess he didn’t hear Chrissy say they could put me in VIP, so that’s fine.
So I continued to wait as the remaining yellow bands are let in. Five at a time. Then the Lucasfilm event coordinator Mary Franklin was calling for a single person. Since I was at the end of the line technically, I hesitated, but she called for a single a few times. So I offered. Then someone in the line said ‘let the lady go first,’ so I backed off, though the lady in question was in a group and did not go ahead. So attendees were continued to be let in as I continued to wait.
Finally everyone except me was let in. This was not fine. Chrissy had promised me, even if it meant sitting me in the glorious VIP section, but she was nowhere to be seen. Then someone came through and said they need to start the event which included an introduction by the show’s cast and crew, so I hailed her and talked to her and explained the situation. It turns out that despite wearing someone else’s Comic-Con credentials, this was Tracy Cannobbio. ‘Yes, I had told you to come down, but there’s no room, sorry.’ ‘But Chrissy told me you could put me in VIP seating if you had to.’ ‘But you are wearing a yellow wristband, she didn’t give you a VIP wristband, those are red.’ ‘I know, but she told me. Can’t you just ask her?’ ‘I will, but I really need to get this show started. We’re not starting the screening just yet, so I’ll come back after, I won’t forget about you.’
The cast and crew go in as I stand outside the theater. I hear the cheers and the applause. Then Tracy walks out of the theater with Freddie Prinze Jr and I can see the screening has already started. Tracy ‘forgot’ about me.
Chris comes by. ‘You’re still here?’ he asked. I tried to explain, but Chris wasn’t having much of it. ‘Well, Chrissy is downstairs so you can go down and talk to her.’ ‘But if I go back down, I can’t come back up.’ ‘What do you mean you can’t come back up? Sure you can.’ ‘You don’t remember 20 minutes ago when you had to offer to escort me up?’ ‘Oh yeah.’
So I wait.
Finally Chrissy and the unidentified woman show up for the screening. ‘You’re still here?’ asked the woman. I then explained everything I could and pleaded with Chrissy once more. ‘I told Tracy that you said to put me in VIP if they had to, but she wouldn’t listen.’ ‘I never said you could sit in VIP. You have a yellow wristband.’ ‘Yes, you did. You said if they couldn’t seat me in the yellow section, they could put me in VIP.’ ‘I would never put you in VIP.’
I’m done waiting.
I walk off in a huff towards the exit. I hear my name being called several times, so reluctantly I turn around and go back to Chrissy Woo, who — although she will probably deny it now — offered me a consolidation prize of some exclusive giveaway. ‘It’s really nice,’ she chimed. Without saying a word, I turned my back, ripped off the wristband and exited the theater, sick to my stomach.
Chrissy Woo almost had me convinced that she didn’t promise the VIP seating if regular seating wasn’t available. Almost. Until I realized that I attend many screenings from Walt Disney Studios and never heard the term VIP used, just ‘reserved.’ Considering I was a minimum of twenty feet away from the check-in table until the yellow wristband was handed to me, I would never have known they were using the term VIP had she not said it.
And that is my review of ‘Star Wars Rebels.’