How bad did I want to meet Michael J. Fox? He sort of defines my teenage years what with Family Ties being one of the biggest shows on TV and Back to the Future being one of the biggest movies of the 1980’s – and maybe even the best. High School U.S.A. is simply the most enjoyable TV movie ever made, and it’s a go-to movie that I’ve probably watched 100 times or more. Midnight Madness is one of the best crummy movies in my collection, the guiltiest of sweet pleasures. He has Disney ties by voicing Milo in Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Spin City is a stellar sitcom, and he appears as himself in a very funny episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm for yet another connection. I’m sure I could go on if I had to, but admit it…you love Michael J. Fox too.
So how bad did I want to meet him? Truth is I never had any hope that I’d ever be meeting him. The only time I get much of a chance to meet celebs outside of celebrity shows is if they are in a show in New York or Los Angeles. And what’s more I had heard that where once Michael J. Fox was good with the fans, they had become so demanding that he was backing off.
Then I heard that he had stopped by unannounced at a Back to the Future gathering at one of the Hollywood Shows in 2009. Some lucky fans got the opportunity for a photo op there, although it wasn’t many, and I believe they had four people at a time – strangers or not – pose with him. It wouldn’t have been optimal, but it offered some hope… until I heard him on a talk show talk about how crazy the whole experience was, which led me to believe it wouldn’t be happening again.
In the Summer of 2016 I found out that Michael J. Fox would be making his first convention appearance at the Wizard Con in Philadelphia. But all advertising material said that a photo op with him would only be included with VIP tickets, the cheapest of which that would include a photo op would be $500. So that partially answers the first question. Not that badly. Not $500 and a trip to Philly.
Then he was announced for the Chicago Wizard World show, one that I had been to several times in the past. But it was the same deal, VIP only. This time I actually considered it, breaking it down however I could to back out the admission price to see how much exactly I’d be paying. But eventually it seems that not enough people wanted it that badly either.
The Chicago Wizard Con finally announced non-VIP tickets for sale to the tune of $150 for a photo op. Although this would be the most pricey photo for a single person that I’ve ever purchased, it still was only a fraction of how much the VIP tickets were going for. This sealed the deal; I was going to Chicago. That’s how badly I wanted him.
And I wasn’t the only one. Lines stretched to unbelievable lengths for this one, and he actually had two scheduled photo ops for that day, Saturday, August 20, 2016. I spent most of the hour or so in line chatting with another fan who was just getting started with photo ops. Oh, how I pitied him and the money he was going to have to spend.
The instruction was not to shake hands with Mr. Fox, who seemed very under control with his Parkinson’s that notoriously kept him shaking. Possibly keeping his hand buried deeply in his pockets helped with that. In any case, I more than respected his wishes for this.
I would have loved to have had more time to chat with him, but considering the lines and how fast they moved them along, it was understandable that playing by the rules was the only way to go here. It was of some consolation that we made eye contact and he greeted me while mouthing the words he read on the fake name tag on my shirt. He thanked me when we were done and that was that.
With a photo op being the main objective, I couldn’t have been happier with the result, even though I saw at least one other in which he had a bigger smile, but beggars can’t be choosers.
It was the first encounter of the day, and the trip would have still been worth if it was the only one.
Celebrities of the 2016 Chicago Wizard World will continue…