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SciFriday: A Weekend Of Frights, Harry Potter (And Syfy)

Popular cable channel brings its digital press tour ... to Florida

After all the cross-country trips I have had to make over the years to places like Vancouver, San Diego and Seattle, you know what? It's about darn time that Syfy brings itself to me.

I was just thinking that about a month ago when Syfy contacted me and told me they had read my mind, and were going to do exactly that. They wanted to stage an early-winter press tour, and wanted to host it right in my backyard -- Florida.

Well, Orlando, Fla., to be specific. At Universal Orlando, which is about an hour or so down Interstate 4 from Airlock Alpha World Headquarters. Unlike past trips, there won't be set visits, because they don't film anything here. (Why am I in Florida again?) But what there will be is information, information, information, and a sneak peek at the annual Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, and even the new Harry Potter theme area of the park, which I have only seen from a distance while it was still under construction.

I love walking on sets, but I also love talking to the people who bring a lot of this excellent Syfy programming to us. And I don't care where we do it (although I'm not complaining at all for not having to jump on a plane and drink a half-glass of Coke and a small bag of peanuts), as long as we keep doing it.

What's interesting about what Syfy does is that they embraced digital media early on. It's been a few years now since it conducted its first digital press tour in Vancouver that I had a chance to attend. It was definitely a new experience for everyone, and I treated the trips to places like the sets of "Battlestar Galactica" and "Eureka" a one-time thing, because I never imagined Syfy would continue such a practice.

Yet, despite the success of these tours (and the fact that Syfy has become one of the leading cable channels on television, and at the very least, one of the most buzzed about online), few -- if any -- other cable channels or even networks think about doing this. Hell, not even NBC -- a sister to Syfy -- does this. We would love to have writers from our site, Inside Blip on other tours as well. But they just don't happen.

Heck, Syfy is so big with digital media, it even adopted its name from a digital media site. I wonder which one that was ...

Oh, sorry. Anyway. I'm very excited about this tour, even if Syfy is focusing on a lot of shows we don't cover. Syfy president Dave Howe is a good guy, but he acknowledges my existence only with a polite wave. Craig Engler -- the man behind @syfy -- also will be there, I'm sure competing with our very own Twitter account (@airlockalpha by the way) on giving you, our readers, instant updates over the weekend.

Joshua Gates, the host of "Destination Truth," will be there. We don't really cover "Destination Truth," but it's a great show, and Gates is an amazing host. Also, if you've never had a chance to meet this guy in person (I got lost in the streets of Vancouver with him last year), he's amazingly charming and funny.

I do look forward to talking to Mark Stern, the head of original programming at Syfy. To me, this guy is a genius, and I know I have said this before. If you think competing on a network level is hard, try doing it on cable, where there is quadruple the competition. His programming choices have been absolutely amazing, across the board. OK, well, maybe not "Flash Gordon," but Mark is human. I hope I can steal a few minutes with him, and beg him to give shows like "Stargate: Universe" and "Caprica" more seasons, although I'm sure there fate does not really sit in his hands.

So what does this media trip mean for you? A lot. The list of people we'll be meeting with is extensive on Monday. Neil Grayston and Allison Scagliotti will kick things off at 10 a.m. (10 a.m.!) for "Warehouse 13" and "Eureka." Two awesome shows, and there are no two better ambassadors than these two.

After that, it's the beautiful Amanda Tapping and the equally as handsome Robin Dunne chatting with us about "Sanctuary." And by the way, I noticed that these talks are just 20 minutes each ... so I guess we have to all talk fast!

Just before lunchtime (I say lunchtime, because there is no time for lunch), it's Joe Maddalena, the host of "Hollywood Treasure," a new reality show that we won't be covering here, but one I want to see, as they go around looking for Hollywood artifacts at auctions and such. That's like touching my soul.

Hmmm, I said there was no time for lunch, but we're spending 20 minutes with WWE (yes, wrestling), so that might be a good time for a sandwich ... Crap, did I say that out loud? Sorry, Mr. Howe.

The panels get a little bit longer in the afternoon, and we'll spend it with "Being Human." No, not the BBC series, but the new Syfy remake. Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath and Sam Huntington will be there. I can't wait for this! If you haven't seen the teaser promos during shows like "Haven" and "Caprica," then you need to pay more attention to the commercials.

Oh, and I guess I should read the schedule better, because they did schedule lunch. I guess that means I need to sit through the WWE panel then. Darnit.

Satisfied with that nice turkey sandwich, all of us attending the press event Monday will get to enjoy Joshua Gates talking about "Destination Truth" before we get 20 minutes with Howe, Alan Seiffert (senior vice president of Syfy Ventures), Engler and Stern talking about "Ventures." I'm assuming that they will be talking about something to do with the network, or maybe it's a new reality show featuring all of them? You never know what's cooking in Mark Stern's brain.

It's "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files" after that, yet another show we don't cover here at Airlock Alpha, but one I have enjoyed watching (even if I don't think they try hard enough sometimes to disprove things). Joining us there are Ben Hansen, Bill Murphy and Jael de Pardo.

Then we move on to one of my current favorite shows, "Caprica." We are honored to have Ronald D. Moore and David Eick in attendance for this.

We end with a demonstration by Marcel's Quantum Kitchen.

That's a lot of people to talk to in a short amount of time, but we're doing it, and still getting in Halloween Horror Nights and Harry Potter in. Talk about "and we're moving, we're moving."

We'll be collecting audio for Alpha Waves Radio and video for Airlock Alpha and Rabid Doll (for shows like "Sanctuary" and "Being Human"). We'll also be posting stories after the event (since there is not a lot of time during the event to do it), and tweeting all day. So why wait for any of that, when you can simply get information instantly by following me on Twitter (@airlockalpha).

So experience the weekend as we do, and get the latest from all your favorite Syfy shows -- even the ones we don't cover.

And help me recover Tuesday morning.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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