By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Monday, August 24, 2015, updated October 15, 2015
The third annual Atlanta Walker Stalker convention Halloween weekend is bringing in virtually all the big stars from "The Walking Dead" yet again, including Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Norman Reedus (Daryl), Melissa McBride (Carol), Steven Yeun (Glenn) and Chandler Riggs (Carl), all five "originals" remaining from season one. Executive producer Greg Nicotero will be there as well.
Organizer James Frazier, who started the conventions two years ago as an addition to a popular Walker Stalkers podcast, said he's confident they'll be able to finalize many of the missing names before the convention.
The only "Fear the Walking Dead" actor on the slate so far is Lincoln Castellanos (Tobias), who only appeared in the first two episodes but is a fan favorite.
The convention will be held for the first time at the Georgia World Congress Center, having outgrown 2014's AmericasMart venue. (I am going to be out of the country and will miss the convention, which I'm seriously bummed about but alas, vacation means inevitably missing stuff. It's inevitable and necessary! If you have not been to this convention and love "The Walking Dead," it's well worth it just for the panels.)
Last year, the convention drew 35,000 people. Frazier is hoping for at least 50,000 this fall.
"We were blown away last year how many people showed up day of," Frazier said. "We had to get a bigger space."
He plans to have more stuff for kids, including a trick-or-treat day that Saturday where vendors and actors will hand out candy. He also wants more interactive events for the fans. A special virtual reality zombie killing "Walking Dead"-sanctioned game called Overkill has been added and a new "Escape Room" set up with help from "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman will be ready for October as well.
Frazier - whose Walker Stalker business partner and fellow podcaster Eric Nordhoff stepped off in April due to other obligations - is now holding 10 events a year, including a cruise and one in London. This past weekend, he held a Walker Stalker convention in Boston. His organization, in two years, has grown from nothing to 14 full-time employees.
Atlanta has a natural advantage in terms of getting current cast members over other cities simply because the show is shot down the road in Senoia. Frazier said the shooting schedule often involves Friday night shoots well into Saturday morning so getting the actors to out-of-town conventions can be a challenge. Six of the actors flew up to Boston this past Saturday morning after finishing a shoot at 5 a.m., he said.
Other current cast members scheduled to come to the Atlanta convention: Christian Serratos (Rosita), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Josh McDermitt (Eugene), Lennie James (Morgan), Christian Serratos (Rosita), Alexandra Breckenridge (Jessie), Ross Marquand (Aaron), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha), Tovah Feldshuh (Deanna), Katelyn Nacon (Enid), Michael Traynor (Nicholas) and Seth Gilliam (Gabriel).
The only current cast members of note who are not listed as attending are Danai Gurira (Michonne) and Alanna Masterson (Tara).
It's impossible to say if the absence of some of the current cast on the guest list means anything in terms of whether they survive this season. (The show is almost done with season six production.)
A raft of past "Walking Dead" actors are set to be there as well, including Jon Bernthal (Shane), Michael Rooker (Merle), David Morrissey (The Governor), Scott Wilson (Hershel), Chad Coleman (Tyrese), IronE Singleton (T-Dog), Steven Coulter (Reg), Tyler James Williams (Noah), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Martinez), Corey Brill (drunk Pete) and Kyla Kenedy (Mika). And
There are some stars from other TV shows as well, including Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) Candace Accola, Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder of "The Vampire Diaries," Giancarlo Esposito ("Breaking Bad," "Revolution") and R.J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad").
How do they manage to get the actors to come back again and again beyond reasonable compensation?
"We take care of them," said Frazier, an attorney. "We try to do everything the right way, not only for the actors but the attendees."
As for Frazier himself, he never imagined become a massive event planner connected to one of the most popular shows in America. "It's a dream job I never dreamed of having," said the Nashville resident. "It's so unreal to do this."
Daily general admission tickets are $35 for Friday, $55 for Saturday (when most of the stars will be there) and $45 for Sunday. A two-day pass is $90 for Saturday and Sunday and a three-day pass is $120. All VIP tickets, which gives you closer contact with some of the biggest stars, sold out within 36 hours last December.