Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dean Cain puts the 'super' into SuperMegaFest

Superman meets Hercules at SuperMegaFest.
Dean Cain does not like being reminded that it has been 19 years since the actor first donned the tights to play Superman in "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman."

But fans attending SuperMegaFest in Framingham, Mass., over the weekend have not forgotten.

Truth be told, the 46-year-old Cain does not mind, either. He was having a little fun with a fan who asked him about continuing to carry the legacy of the Man of Steel some 15 years after "Lois and Clark" ended its four-year run. The still-handsome Cain - ask any female in the audience at his question-and-answer session - shook his head in good-natured horror at the reminder.

Dean Cain has a way of making fans laugh with him and at him. Asked whether his Japanese ancestry ever posed a problem for him as an actor, he recounted how he laughed for 25 minutes after being cast as Superman when one fan wrote, "We wanted Superman, not Sushi-man."

But Cain is not all about laughs. Or even about entertainment. That's why his appearance has to be ranked among the best I have ever seen at any convention by an actor.

Cain spoke lovingly of his 12-year-old son, Christopher Dean Cain, and how he arranges his professional schedule so that he can be fully committed to his real-life role as a single parent. It seems obvious that Cain would just as soon be dropping his son off at school as battling supervillains on a Hollywood set. He talked about the struggle between being his son's friend as well as his father. He talked about not pursuing time-consuming projects, such as a lengthy movie shoot or weekly TV series, so that he can spend more time raising his son.

In short, Cain talked like a mere mortal.

Dean Cain greets one of his many female fans.
And the fans loved him even more for it.

Cain also used his appearance to discuss his short athletic career - a knee injury ended his hopes of becoming a professional football player with the Buffalo Bills. He remains friends with former quarterback Jason Garrett, currently the coach of the Dallas Cowboys (talk about a team that could use Superman on its roster). He offered trivia - the other finalist for Superman was none other than Kevin "Hercules" Sorbo, also appearing at SuperMegaFest. He praised Tom Welling's portrayal of a young Superman on "Smallville" and has high hopes for next summer's "Man of Steel," starring Henry Cavill in the tights.

SuperMegaFest was far from a one-man show (or, to be more politically correct, a one-star universe).

Headlining the weekend was Stan Lee, the 89-year-old comic book giant. One fan waiting in line for Lee's autograph, reminded by a festival official that no signatures would be personalized, reverently asked, "Can I talk with him?" The comment brought a chuckle from Lee himself, who was within easy earshot. Several fans, who until that moment had been quietly whispering to one another while in the presence of the living legend, immediately jumped in with greetings for Lee.

Bruce Boxleitner chats with fans.
Like Cain, Bruce Boxleitner, best known to convention fans as Capt. John Sheridan of "Babylon 5," brought more to his appearance than anecdotes and an update of his career (nonetheless, check out, which looks full of sci-fi promise). He expressed admiration for how the show's creator, writer and producer, J. Michael Straczynski, kept the series moving forward against huge odds. He also offered praise for his fellow cast members, noting with sadness that several have passed way, including Richard Biggs at age 44, Andreas Katsulas at 60, Jeff Conaway at 61 and, most recently, Michael O'Hare at 60 only two months ago. (Boxleitner is 62.)

Boxleitner related a wonderful story about guest star Walter Koenig, who fans loved to hate as Psi Cop Alfred Bester. At a convention in England, Boxleiter said, Koenig made a grand entrance as Bester, surrounded by others representing henchmen from the TV show, his own face partially masked under a hood. As Koenig approached the stage, the crowd roared and a spotlight shone on him. Boxleitner said he could see tears streaming down Koenig's face. After Koenig reached the stage, the "Star Trek" icon took a few moments to compose himself, quietly saying "I never thought I would experience this feeling again."

A fan dressed as Bumblebee was popular with the ladies.
In short, SuperMegaFest was everything a fan could hope for - and more. Sorbo provided fans with a brief history lesson on George Washington, having recently visited Mount Vernon. Sean Young greeted fans accompanied by a small dog. Traci Lords was warm and gracious to visitors. Adrian Paul autographed weapons from "Highlander."

Actors, former professional wrestlers and pin-up girls (when's the last time you heard that phrase?) happily mingled with the crowd, which its own share of attractions, including several you-had-to-see-to-believe costumes.

You have to wonder how SuperMegaFest can possibly top itself next year. I can hardly wait to find out.

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