Sunday, October 13, 2013

Outlander/Starz/Diana/Ron/ & How I spent my Saturday

I don't talk about this enough on this blog, but I am changing that now.

Confession; I am a HUGE fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. And all thanks to Starz, fans will be getting yet another fix of this phenomenal tale when the Outlander series premiers in March 2014, on the cable network. Starz also honored a small group of fans at an event in New York City on Saturday October 12.

Being the rabid fan that I am I have 'Liked' as many pages as I can find on Facebook that have anything to do with the Outlander Universe, one of which is the Outlander/Starz page that posted this on October 9th,

"Starz will be hosting a private Outlander event, not open to the public, with Diana Gabaldon and Ronald D. Moore this Saturday, October 12th, at 1:00pm in Manhattan!
Attendees will get a first-hand look behind the scenes of the upcoming series and participate in a live Q&A, followed by an intimate lunch.
Email for a chance to attend! 
Limited admittance, no guarantees. First come, first seated.

I sent my email that day thinking that was the last I would hear about it. Friday night at 11 p.m. I found this had been sent to me the hour before;

So I spent the next hour freaking out and wondering if I should wake up my sick hubby (plagued with a cold) and talk about how I was going to get sleep, get ready, and travel 160 miles all in about 12 hours. Luckily hubby woke up on his own and at the end of our discussion I decided not to go because there was no guaranteed entry. Even declaring that, I still set my alarm and made a list of what I would need to take. When the alarm did go off I felt comfy and warm and was planning on going back to sleep when suddenly I was wide awake and firmly decided on going, even if I didn't get in. Just over an hour later I was driving the 96 miles that would lead me to a train station and a commuter train that would take me the rest of the way.

This would be a good time for me to mention I have only been to the city three other times and have never traveled solo anywhere. None of that mattered to me because it was Diana!!!!

I arrived at the venue with just over an hour to spare before the doors were to open...only to find a line (of course there was - even though the invitation said not to form a line, what did they expect us to do??) of about 60 people. The line grew and grew and I had no idea how many people would be let in. Eventually Starz brought out a camera crew and were interviewing people in line (I ducked behind the person in front of me) and then came a black Town car that was redirect but came back a few minutes later and about 30 feet from my place in line out stepped Herself, Diana Gabaldon, and the executive producer of the show, Ron Moore. Just before this we were each verified to be on the list by a few individuals that came around with I-Pad's (Yay, I was on the list!!!), some folks brought friends that did not have emailed invites, they were told to go to the back of the line and they would see if they had enough room when all were seated. I think all told there was about 150-200 of us that did get in. There was no way that entire line made it in.

This is a photo Starz posted. I am not visible but was around the second black doorway.

As always, Diana looked amazing and Ron looked great in his kilt.

Shortly after their entry I was lead with a group of 16 people to an unremarkable door further down the building. Once we entered it looked like we were in a wood paneled was actually an elevator that inched us up to the top floor. The elevator was dim, but the hallway and the room we were seated in was really dim, so I did not take pictures of the décor, which I was told was designed to look like a prohibition era speak easy. There was a wooden bar at one end and lots of curved booths along the periphery. It had a very cool vibe to it.

I was able to take a photo of the small stage since it was well lit. On the stage were two captains chairs that were flanked by two large screen televisions.

Partially empty stage


Now a full stage

We were treated to a brief clip that showing the prep work that was taking place in Scotland as that very moment, such as, sword fighting practice, Gaelic and horse riding lessons. At the very end was a nice message from the two leading stars of the series, extending their apologies for not being with us but hoping we understood they needed to be in bonny Scotland just then.
Just after this Ron spoke a bit about the process that will take place over the next several months (Starz is contracted to produce 16 shows that will encompass the first book in the series...hopefully it will be such a success that the all the books in the series will also be filmed). I know Diana thought that Ron was a good choice to bring her epic work to the small screen but I knew very little about him. In listening to him talk about being true to the story and his passion for the project (he even sent people to a castle ruin in Scotland to make a mold of the outer wall so it could be reproduced on set buildings) and the fact that he did not want to disappoint any of the fans, or his wife, who is also a long time fan, made me think he was the right choice as well.
At this point there was a Q & A session, I had no questions but enjoyed listening to those of others. I didn't learn anything new from the session (thanks to my stalking any and all information from Diana and the shows production) but rather got a bit more depth into some of the production intricacies. About 30 minutes in we were told the session would have to end as lunch was ready for us, we were asked to follow a piper up the stairs to the rooftop restaurant where a buffet lunch was waiting.
The red headed piper and our lunch venue

Drinks were generously flowing, red wine, white wine, beer, or bottled water that were labeled on one side Outlander and the other, Starz. (Also notice the ceiling banner flags were also Starz/Outlander). Just behind the lovely lady at the buffet Diana and Ron had their lunch with some of the folks from Starz. I sat just two tables away. When lunch was over Diana and Ron began going from table to table but that did not last long as people further away came up and formed a line to talk to them, get autographs, and photos. I stayed out of the well ordered melee as I had met Diana previously had done all the above. I just enjoyed watching others have their moments.
Ron and Diana in action

Here are photo's of conceptual art boards that Starz had made


As things began to wind down I asked one of the Starz folks if there would be more, or if it ended after the autographs. I was told yes it would end after the autographs, but that they had t-shirts and books for us on the way out. Somehow I managed to thank her while masking my total shock, after such a well thought out afternoon they had yet more for us, it was almost too much to comprehend!! Below is the loot.
The book is autographed by both Diana and Ron
And here is the back of the shirt (OH YES!)
So in closing I can say I am one lucky girl to have lived this unexpected dream day and that I'm glad I was brave enough to take the chance rather than clinging to home and my warm bed.

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