THE 2006 SUNBURST CONVENTION
by Linda Collins
Major kudos to Greg and Jackie Thompson and their staff for
another wonderful, productive and informative event!!!!!!!!!!!
Having just attended the Sunburst Convention, presented by Greg
and Jackie Thompson and the Vagabond troupe, in Orlando, Florida, I
must say I was totally impressed with the entire event.
From the first moment upon arrival until the last
"party", it was a class act all the way.
Being a attendee and not being involved with the actual production
of the event, I may not have been privy to any "behind the
scenes" problems and challenges, but as a attendee, it appeared
to go off without a hitch!
The first nights registration and welcome reception was a great
time to renew old friendships and welcome new people into the family
that is the key to the Sunburst Convention as you instantly feel like
family with the warmth and open arms attitude of the staff and other
attendees. The registration was smooth and painless and
the karaoke party and fun games that Greg and Jackie had the
attendees play, gave everyone a chance to meet almost every person in
the room and created a loving and caring relationship between the
attendees and the Sunburst staff that was to prevail throughout the weekend.
A good time was had by all.
I did not attend some of the events like the breakfasts so will
only comment on the events that I did attend.
So, the first day, my first event was the morning meeting with
Greg discussing the ins and outs of our business and then opening the
meeting up to questions and discussion between the artists and some
of the agents in attendance. This was done very casually
and the smallness of the group in attendance made this a
"safe" environment for people to openly ask
questions. This meeting was repeated on day two as well
and was pretty much the same idea both days.
To be bluntly honest, which is what I seem to be known for, I
would have preferred a bit more structure in these morning meetings
and although on the second day, John McConnell from "Book It
Entertainment" did a great talk on how to elevate your income in
the industry, I felt the subject material could have been a bit more
defined and could have been geared toward the new people on one day
and the more experienced artists the second day. The
groups at the morning meetings were small but would grow as the
meeting progressed. I was disappointed that some of the
talents did not attend these morning meetings as I feel the nuts and
bolts of the industry is something all need to hear over and over
again. I applaud those talents who were there to soak up as
much knowledge as was available.
After the morning meetings, the artists were required to attend a
production meeting to work out the logistics of their showcases with
the production crews and stage manager.
I will discuss the showcases below but I do think these mandatory
meetings are one of the reasons the showcases run so smoothly.
The showcases themselves were well executed and seemed to be
Of course, some minor glitches occurred which is expected in this
style of a production but for the most part, no noticeable "train
Lots of talent for us agents to view in a short period of time,
many of which were new and many of which we were able to evaluate for
improvements from the last time we saw them.
The showcase spots sold out so I suggest early registration next
year to insure a spot.
The Sunburst event is still small enough to present a warm and
family style atmosphere but it is big enough to draw some wonderful
talent and many agents and producers and talent buyers who, I am
sure, would say it was time well spent for both the talents and the buyers.
I will say some of the things that were special at this convention
and are, in my opinion, some of the reasons for the success of the
Sunburst event are things like the Hospitality Suite, the Artists
Comfort Station, the control over the Promo table, the tables for the
agents to sit at so they can take notes, the acting stage hands who
do not just set up the podium, for example, but do their tasks with
animation and comedy and actually become part of the show, the
professional but personable sound and lighting crews and registration
people and the overall "family" feeling of the event.
Greg can tell you who did what so appropriate thanks can be given to
those who donated their time and money to these "perks".
I did not attend the party on Sat night so can not report first
hand on it but the buzz on Sunday was that it was a great fun and
The press was well represented with the Jay Leno Show filming and
Channel 4 Television from the United Kingdom doing an entire show
around the event with one of their own television personalities,
Justin Collins, transforming into a celebrity impersonator as
the "hook" of the show. The UK Team was
respectful and very supportive of the event and I expect some great
coverage on the show they will be presenting. Justin, who
looked nothing like Tom Jones, actually did a creditable job of
"becoming" Tom Jones for his showcase and he was a
wonderful singer who, with some fine tuning on his look and stage
mannerisms, could actually become a Tom Jones Impersonator if he was
serious about doing so.
The event on Sunday night was a wonderful Buffet with great food
and then the awards show which was a fun and worthy event with the
Sunburst staff giving out the awards to the performers as voted on by
the attendees and then the Best Show award as voted on by Universal
Studios and Walt Disney World executives. I did not write
down all the award winners but am sure Greg will supply those to you.
One nice surprise, was that, since IGCITA decided against
presenting the Cloney Awards at this event as was originally planned
and instead just mailed out certificates, one of the IGCITA members,
Bob Pasch and his lovely wife, Lenore, had trophies made at their own
expense to present to the Cloney Winners and did so at the Awards
event at Sunburst. The trophies said something like
"in recognition of your winning a Cloney award for "best..."
This was a very classy thing for the Pasch's to do and was warmly
received by all.
The hotel was great, the food was good, the Sunburst Staff was
excellent and I truly believe this was a highly successful and
productive event that will garner work for many of the talents.
We finally left the hotel at 4 AM and the party was still going
on. A good time was had, for sure...maybe too good of a
time, ha ha.
Linda Collins/ Classique Productions
GLENNS TEN (The Way I See It !)
By Glenn Arnette, lll
SUNBUR CONVENTION 2006
So you think conventions are boring? Not the Sunburst
Convention held each year in Orlando, Florida. It is like being
at the Oscars and having a front row seat on the Red
Carpet. Celebrity Impersonators are everywhere from
Marilyn Monroe to Jack Nickleson. You will even see a George
Bush, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton. That certainly makes
good company when they are all in the same room!
Greg Thompson and his wife Jackie are responsible for the
Sunburst Convention, one of the largest conventions of this kind in
the United States. Participants come from everywhere including
Europe to perform in hopes of being booked throughout the year.
It is a talent search by agents to find the best Impersonators
(look-s-like) performers for their venues.
If you think you look, sound or perform like a
star this is the place for you to be each Fall. The
audience will cheer you on and give you your moment in the
spotlight. Each showcase is open to the public and
they all say it is better than any concert in the country. Why
you will have up to 35 acts in one afternoon and they have two days
of showcases for performances.
For information contact Greg Thompson at (407) 226-9088 or
go to their website at www.sunburstconvention.com
You can email Greg for additional information at FlaSunburst@msn.com
Now, take a look at all the Impersonators and see how many
you can guess. To see who and what about each one, go to
www.sunburstconvention.com to see each name and how to contact.
Thanks, Greg and Jackie, it is always so
professional. You are the tops!
Until next year, visit our National website at
www.travelstorymagazine.com or email me with your thoughts at VGArnette3@aol.com.
Les Vogt represented The Entertainment Network this past year at
our annual convention. This is his un-edited review. We
humbly and graciously publish his reports.
2005/ 3rd Annual Convention
The Sunburst Convention In Orlando ...
Simply The Best!
The primary focus of this event was to present the talent to
agents, producers and buyers instead of highlighting awards to a
small core of insider favorites. It was a refreshing option in the
mind of this informed and experienced observer.
The third Sunburst Convention of Professional Celebrity
Impersonators in Orlando, Florida November 17 thru 20 came off
without a glitch... and I am certain everyone who attended came away
with the feeling that they got their money's worth. The most familiar
sight was a very calm and collected Greg Thompson continually issuing
instructions to his very capable assistants all week-end long. It was
a perfect joy to watch it all flawlessly unfold as it did.
Greg is very much a hands-on producer with an eye for detail and
catches most problems before they occur. He is learning from other
conventions, and his own previous efforts, what it takes to stage a
successful industry event. All the ingredients were there...
including a direct "to the point" simplicity which, for the
greatest part, was not hindered by annoying technical problems that
are usually attached to such events. I believe Greg is very close to
perfecting the model that all our convention producers should make an
effort to follow. Congratulations Greg!
There was a get acquainted gathering on Thursday evening which
involved a large appetizer buffet, some light entertainment and
social games that took the edge off and established a sense of unity
among the delegates. A high quality 11am - Noon brunch with
entertaining speakers preceded the Friday and Saturday afternoon
showcases 1:30pm - 5:30pm on both days. Agents, producers and talent
buyers were seated at reserved tables immediately in front of the
stage... which was a very simple low-rise set with large video
screens on either side showing up-close images of the performers
during their 5 minute showcase performances. The big screens also
served as a video showcase opportunity for artists unable to attend
the convention. Performer videos could be viewed between acts, during
breaks and the meet and greet periods following the showcases. Most
of the videos were quite entertaining and very well done. At other
times, an animated Sunburst logo would swirl across the screen
reminding us where we were. No overkill... just a professional touch
of good marketing which was continuous throughout the weekend.
During the showcases, the general public was allowed to purchase
tickets and sit in the rows of chairs that were placed behind the
agents, producers and talent buyers. Friday's attendance was weak,
but Saturday looked quite successful. I'm sure the public show
concept will eventually take hold as it is very entertaining and
extremely good value.
The means by which non-musical talents were showcased was nothing
short of brilliant. Joan Rivers was the fictitious host of a "Red
Carpet Show" where she interviewed celebrities on her red
carpet set. This allowed these artists to be seen and heard in a
simple, easily staged environment that didn't require any serious
development, props or rehearsal time. The segments were all well
paced comedy sets and came off seamlessly.
After each afternoon showcase, the performers of the day would
stand behind their promo material at a long 60' table along the side
wall while the agents, producers and talent buyers strolled through
to meet them face to face collecting their promotional materials,
business cards and/or chatting about up-coming show opportunities. At
this point (5:30pm - 7:30pm) there was a dead period with nothing
planned so all could mingle and network with each other. A late night
hospitality suite was open nightly to 3am for those that network best
in the wee hours.
The Saturday Night Awards Dinner & Show was another ingenious
concept... no complicated musical entertainment... no hoopla or
pretentious, big-deal glitz for a series of insider awards that are
supposedly voted the best by a small segment of our peers within the
industry. Maybe someday, if and when an industry gathering lures the
majority of the best talent available to an event, someone can
present an awards show with some actual legitimacy. But, until that
time, let's follow Greg Thompson's lead and accept things as they
are... with some simple, fun entertainment and a fun set of awards
where winning or losing have no serious consequences.
The photo studio stall in the foyer provided an excellent
opportunity for many of the performers to get a professional photo
shoot done at a very reasonable price. And, the photo duplication
company on display was another bargain for anyone wishing to order
8x10 duplicates for promotion or back of the room sales. I am certain
there will be many other valuable services looking into booking space
at future conventions, all of which will add to the overall value of
I would personally like to see a "How To Get More Work"
& "How To Maximize Your Income" forum on Friday and
Saturday morning at these events. This could feature a moderator
(Greg or whoever) and a panel of 3 industry people who introduce some
of their ideas and encourage questions and general discussion from
the attendees. Also, I thought the "Off Property Dinner"
via passenger coach was a waste. While it was enjoyable and a good
opportunity to socialize, I believe an alternative gathering at the
host hotel would be just as effective at half the cost.
In closing, I believe all industry events must focus on
job-seeking activities... with increased motivational efforts
directed to agents, producers and talent buyers.
Les Vogt/Entertainment Network Staff Member