Con Report from the Xena Burbank Con 2006 by Taipo

Here's the low-down on Renee's performance today at the con.  I'll worry about the rest of the day later, or maybe tomorrow.  I know you want to hear about Renee most of all. 

But first, great news- 675.00 dollars was raised for Duke Independent Disaster Relief!  Two items were auctioned off to raise the money- a Xena doll for 75.00, and a rubber sword used by Lucy in "When Fates Collide" for 600.00.  Hip, hip, hooray!   

Okay, to Renee.  She was introduced by a fan-created music video  salute to Gabrielle.  I only caught his first name, but congrats to Aaron on a very well-done video.

Well, Renee came out on stage in all her glory.  She was wearing a stretchy black top that showed her baby belly very clearly!  Her slacks were a charcoal grey, as was her cropped jacket that tied in front over her belly.  This time, her hair was more reddish blonde than last year, but still pretty blonde. 

She tried to sign the banners that hang at the back of the stage (all the performers sign them and then they get auctioned off- the banners, not the performers, you smarties out there!) but it was too hard for her to reach with her tummy, so she'll do it later on.  She told us the baby is due in March, and she's expecting a girl. 

After that, she told us all about her visit to Israel last August with her friend Natalie.  Sharon had to prompt her through, reminding her of the order in which she'd visited places.  I guess it's that pregnant woman's faulty memory Sharon keeps talking about!  Renee read to us a few things from her journal that she kept at that time, and showed two pictures of some boxes she'd bought at the market.  She picked up the pink box and it opened right up in her hand.  It turned out to contain a blessing for good luck in delivery. She'd found out the day she left for Israel that she was pregnant.  What a coincidence.  She read us a translation of the blessing, but it was very long, so I can't remember it to put it here.  And I was writing notes in the tiny margins of my program, so I couldn't fit it in there.  She may post it on her website.  She read a monologue she'd written from Natalie's conservative point of view of the war in Iraq, and described her visit to Jerusalem and the Western Wall.  She was clearly moved by her experiences in Jerusalem.  She went to the Dead Sea and did the mud ritual, going down at night with her friend and covering herself in mud, then jumping into the Dead Sea to wash it all off.  From there she went to Masada and then to the Red Sea in Jordan. 

She clearly took in a lot of the history Israel has to offer.  When she went to the airport to go home, the customs agent asked why she'd come to Israel, and she responded "To learn about the country."  Well, that got her a really vigorous security check!  They went through her bags, and asked a lot of questions.  They finally let her go onto the plane, and she said it was really interesting to be on the other side of the interrogation!

Once she got home, she took up painting again.  She showed us Xena portraits, and then brought out two self portraits, which were works in progress.  The first was a silhouette of her naked, pregnant body, and the second was a portrait of herself, naked, with some sort of design on her belly to represent life and the child within; it was too far away and too small for me to see very clearly.  She kept saying she was embarrassed to be showing it.  She hadn't thought she would be, but she was!  She was trying to celebrate life and the female body.  She told us that she'd been so excited about it that she would make folks look at it when the came to visit, but it was too much information for them, so she now calls it "TMI." 

As far as acting goes, she's looking to play parts that are more soul-baring and raw.  Alien Apocalypse was fun, but she's looking for something deeper now.  She's also committed to finishing Diamonds and Guns, because all the other people dropped out, but she felt it wasn't good enough before to release it.  Ted helped her out, and she thinks that improved it.  She is determined to finish it because so many people from the Xena community, both behind the scenes and among the fan base, have given her such great support with the film.  She hopes to have it wrapped up in February or March.

She mentioned at one point that Miles was taking Tae Kwon Do, and was also loving to play with his plastic sword.  "It must be in the blood," she said.  She also said she got "a kick" out of the whole Planet Xena, Gabrielle Moon thing.

Questions were asked, and she stated that inspiration for her non-Xena paintings were found in colors, spirituality, celebration of life.  About "One Weekend A Month," she says that she is not as close to the project as she once was; Eric is working on a script, but she doesn't know if she'll be more involved later on.  The character was easy for her to get into because she, too, had a history of being in an abusive family situation at one point, and so she could work with that.  One reason she distanced herself from this film was because she wanted to write some war monologues of her own.  She described them as being about an American mother whose son was killed in the war; her friend Natalie's point of view as described, and what she thinks might be the experience of a young Iraqi girl enduring the constant house-to-house searches the American soldiers make on Iraqi homes.  She says they're essentially about heroes, friendship, and bravery.  She was amazed at how the war was having an influence of sorts on her career and work. 

She talked about going to the con in Seattle, and about how funny Lucy was in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."  She said that living in New Zealand, where nearly everyone travels a lot, had inspired her to make her travels, and that these had changed her world view.  She admitted that mainly it had confused her, because it had disturbed her set view of her place in the world, and had widened her experience. 

Asked if she would ever write a book, she said someone had asked her to write one about her experience on XWP, but she feels that if she ever does write on, it would be about her difficult childhood, then tied in to XWP in that the show taught her that one can overcome anything in life, and that Gabrielle's character had helped her learn about standing up and telling people when something they're doing is wrong; about standing up and being strong. 

We learned that though Renee Zellwegger had gone to Katy High School, Renee never met her because she herself had gone first to Taylor High School and then to the Performing Arts High School.  We also learned she doesn't play board games much, and doesn't have a favorite one, though she's pretty good at 5-Card Draw poker.  She
sees herself in 5 years as producing more films, and she hopes acting, though she is picky and is willing to wait for the right part.  She would definitely play Gabrielle in a XWP movie; she would do any part Rob Tapert asked, because he's had such an influence on her life and is amazing.

She liked the last episodes of Xena because she felt that Rob had done what was right for Xena's character, and that Xena's redemption was "beautiful."  She was touched by the episode the most because she felt Xena had come full circle at the end. 

At about this point, a gentleman asked her to speak to his wife on his cell phone, because she was at home in Florida, taking care of  the kids, while he was there at the con as a Christmas present from her.  So Renee took the phone and they had a little chat.  It was a very funny moment. 

Other little things:  She's not a good person to ask about how to lose weight after a baby!  She figures picking up Miles helped her get her abs back, but she really couldn't say much else.  She hadn't read all the books given to her at Bardcon, though she'd just finished a book called "The Red Tent."  She really enjoyed the talent show at Bardcon. 

She had a friend in New Zealand, from an acting class there, who had been talking about the two of them doing a show together, so yes, it was possible that one day she'd do Shakespeare again.  She had gone to NZ more in the past year than in other years; she finds it tranquil, and she can paint there.  She hopes to join the gang at Threadgill's in Austin sometime soon.  Asked if she'd do a part of Katherine Fugate came up with something for her, she said that if these things are really meant to be, then it's yours, but mainly you have to earn your parts.  She hasn't auditioned much because all the roles she'd auditioned for were "not me."  Then there was some joking about Lucy's Christmas message, which Renee hasn't seen (must not be a kit 10 member!), but she figured that Lucy "wants my child!"

She ended by reading a long piece called "The Gift of Miles," which told the whole story of her labor and delivery.  It was very, very funny, and extremely touching, too.  She talked about the rigors of natural childbirth (I don't think she'll go that route again!) and told about Nurse Susie (I hope I got the name right), who said "I know who you look like!  That girl on Xena!"  Nurse Susie spent a lot of time going around telling everyone who Renee was, once Renee finally convinced her of the truth.  Nurse Susie couldn't quite believe it because "I didn't recognize you!"  Renee's response  through gritted teeth and in agony from contractions:  "Go figure."  I can't really do justice to the piece; I hope someone else can. 

That was the whole thing, as best as I can remember.  I hope you all  enjoyed it.  I know it's still pretty sketchy, but hopefully the other list members can fill in details when they come back.  I'll try to get notes from Lucy's performance tomorrow.  In the meantime, take care, all!

Taipo