Posted in Zachary Levi

When San Diego’s Comic-Con first began back in 1970, only 300 people attended. Now, the annual convention for comics, collectibles and all things genre has gone decidedly mainstream, drawing crowds in excess of 120,000 to preview the latest movies, TV shows, games and merchandise in an annual four-day festival of geekery.

Actor Zachary Levi has attended the convention from both sides, as a fan and as the star of NBC’s cult hit “Chuck,” which ended its tenacious five-season run last year. But far from forsaking his fanbase once his show left the air, Levi and his business partner, Dave Coleman, have been working to keep their loyal army of self-proclaimed “nerds” active, engaged and inspired, in large part through their Nerd Machine merchandise site and related social media.

In 2011, the duo debuted Nerd HQ, a smaller, more informal annex to the Comic-Con experience held a few blocks away from the convention center. Last year, I talked to Levi about the project a few days before Comic-Con kicked off, and he described the venture as “an attempt at creating an intimate, organic, fun, interactive experience between celebrities and fans that all culminates for a greater good, which is raising money for charity.”

Though Levi expressed trepidation that the entire enterprise might somehow go horribly wrong, the general consensus was that Nerd HQ 1.0 was a resounding success, raising $40,000 for Operation Smile by the convention’s close. Naturally, Levi wanted to expand the concept for a second year, so I caught up with him to discuss Nerd HQ’s evolution.

“I’m definitely feeling a little bit better about it, but I guess even after you’ve accomplished it one year, it doesn’t mean that it still can’t blow up in your face another year,” he laughed. “I’m more confident in my excitement this year, knowing what we accomplished last year and knowing just how special it felt. The whole weekend was really difficult and strenuous … But the whole time I kept feeling energized, [just from] the feedback I was getting from fans and feedback I was getting from the celebrities that lent their time to us, all for that greater goal of changing lives throughout the world with Operation Smile.”

Rather than trying to compete with Comic-Con, Levi explained that he hoped to offer a “complement” to what the gigantic convention offers — which makes sense, considering that the ballrooms at the San Diego Convention Center only hold between 280 and 6,500 people, meaning that many of the 120,000 attendees aren’t fully occupied all of the time. And out of respect to the established event, Nerd HQ never sells tickets until after Comic-Con is completely sold out. “They have giant ballrooms and can bring in giant stars and every possible studio, network and comic book company, small and big, everybody under one giant roof, and that’s insane to me,” Levi enthused. “The energy and everything that goes into that is really incredible and it’s powerful. We just wanted to offer a smaller, more intimate version of that.”

Last year, Levi admitted that he was only intending to hold a Nerd Party for fans and celebrities who wanted to be able to dance and relax without having cameras pointed at them the whole night, but the idea soon snowballed into a self-contained space for gaming, technology, merchandise and Nerd HQ’s centerpiece, the Conversations for a Cause. Conducted in a casual Q&A format, the Conversations (which were also live-streamed for fans who couldn’t make it to San Diego) saw fans interacting with guests, such as “Supernatural’s” Jared Padalecki and the reunited cast of “Firefly,” without needing to camp outside all night to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.

“Last year, it was all people that I knew,” Levi admitted. “I was just calling friends and being like, ‘Help me out. Do me a favor. I know this doesn’t make any sense — I can’t really explain what it’ll be like, you’ve just got to trust me.’ And they did and I was so grateful that they did and it worked out well. Now studios and networks are aware of it from last year and they want to utilize it as I always dreamed people would. So now I have people coming in to do Conversations for a Cause that I have never even met before, but I’ve always been like, ‘Oh wow. You’re so-and-so. That’s really awesome.'” [ Read More ]

Auteur : Jenny 09.07.2012 (0) Commentaire

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