It’s just as well I’m not of an excitable nature, otherwise news of the upcoming ColumboCon would have caused my heart to explode with joy!
Regular readers may remember that I had a Columbo Convention on my wishlist of things to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Prescription: Murder in 2018. Refresh your memory with the full list here. As with pretty much everything else on the list, I assumed this was merely wishful thinking. Praise the Lord, but it turns out I was wrong…
“The ‘Columbo Mystery Convention’ is the brainchild of writers Rick Lerztman and Dr Bill Birnes.”
Admittedly this isn’t something Universal has organised to shine the spotlight on the greatest freakin’ show they ever touched, but let that take nothing away from what is sure to be a magnificent tribute.
No, instead the ‘Columbo Mystery Convention’ is the brainchild of writers Rick Lerztman and Dr Bill Birnes, new pals of mine, and, more importantly, the authors of the recently published biography Beyond Columbo: The Life and Times of Peter Falk (read more about that here).
The event is in its early planning stage right now, but anyone with even a passing interest in the show and its leading star would do well to keep July 2018 free from pressing duties so as not to be double booked when the final dates are set!
ColumboCon: What we know so far
Details are still sketchy, as befits an event in its planning infancy, but here’s what I know so far:
The date: mid-July 2018, the aim is for it to be a four-day celebration
The location: Precise venue TBC, but event will take place in Ossining New York, Peter Falk’s home town
The format: Panel sessions discussing Columbo mysteries and the life of Peter Falk; view memorabilia from the show; chance to meet the writers, actors, directors and creators of the show; Columbo mystery-writing competition
Who might be there: Still TBC, but the organisers are confident that high-profile stars and contributors will support the event. Who knows, we could see the likes of Dabney Coleman, Ed Begley Jnr, Stephen Bochco sharing their memories and experiences. Dare we hope for William Shatner, Steven Spielberg and Dick Van Dyke? Too early to say…
While there will be a strong Columbo theme, the intention is for this to become an annual event to celebrate the mystery writing genre as a whole.
Talking about the inspiration behind the event, Dr Bill Birnes said: “The roots of Columbo are firmly set in the manner of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. Columbo was the modern incarnation of Sherlock Holmes and continued the tradition of the cerebral mystery.
“We believe that the many readers of the great mystery books deserve a yearly forum to meet the great authors, creators and minds of the genre.”Rick Lertzman added: “America’s love for Columbo and Peter Falk has continued over the years. There are tens of thousands of fans loyal to the exploits of Lieutenant Columbo and ‘Columbo Con’ has them firmly in mind. It will be a true celebration of America’s favourite TV detective.
“With expected guest appearances by some of the show’s most notorious villains we hope to see fans turn up in their trench coats, drive up in their Peugeot convertibles, and be ready to weigh in on Columbo’s most perplexing cases.”
Sounds good to me!
Unconfirmed event rumours
The following internet rumours about ColumboCon have yet to be confirmed, so don’t get your hopes up!
- On-site ding-a-ling ice cream concession
- Live round-robin chess matches against unstable Grand Master
- Free chilli, black coffee and hard boiled eggs
- Dissolving suture treatment for minor cuts and scrapes
- Dog-walking service available through MM7
- Subliminal cut-free screening of Columbo episodes on the big screen
- Boodle Boy on hand to shine shoes
- Limerick and darts knock-out competition
I have it on excellent authority that Mrs Columbo will be in attendance. She will, however, be tantalisingly just around the corner and out of ear-shot at all times…
I will update this article with new info as and when. There’s no mailing list yet for the event, but if you want to keep up to speed email me directly and I’ll let you know when I hear more juicy details.
Did this end up happening? I knew Peter Falk was from Ossining but didn’t know this convention was going to take place. I grew (in the 80s) up 15 mins away in Tarrytown and lived in Ossining from ’99-02.
Alas no, it never ended up happening.
Any more news on the Columbo Con? I’m working on getting support from Penn State University for it. If I can help out with the plans or communications or? Let me know! Christyne
I’m still awaiting an update from organisers. Hopefully some good news soon.
Can’t wait! We’ll be there!
A Columbo Convention sounds like a terrific idea.
Unfortunately, the “free chili” they might be serving at the Convention won’t be from Chasen’s, the legendary Hollywood restaurant. Chasen’s was immortalized in the fine episode “Publish or Perish.” There’s a comic scene in this episode where Columbo arrives at Chasen’s to interview Jeffrey (Jacques Aubuchon) and Eileen (Mariette Hartley). Columbo is invited to order a meal and when he orders a bowl of chili, the waiter is aghast that someone would order such “plebian” food at the tony restaurant.
The locale for this scene was an in-joke by scriptwriter Peter S. Fischer and co-creators Dick Levinson and Bill Link. Chasen’s was actually famous for its chili. Among the famous patrons who loved the concoction were Jack Benny, Clark Gable, J. Edgar Hoover, and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. During the filming of Cleopatra in Rome, another famous fan wrote the following to owner Dave Chasen: “The chili is so good. All gone now. Please send me ten quarts of your wonderful chili in dry ice to 448 Via Appia Pignatelli. – Love and kisses, Elizabeth Taylor.”
Although Chasen’s closed down years ago, it’s still part of Hollywood lore. So next time you watch “Publish or Perish,” you’ll especially enjoy the hilarious restaurant scene.
That’s great background info that I wasn’t aware of, thanks very much.
Thanks for sharing this–that’s classic! Knowing this really adds to the episode. I hope they serve chili at ColumboCon, “…with beans or without, doesn’t matter”. Just not the kind made with squirrel meat!
Has anyone ever thought of making a miniature Columbo car? A 1:18 scale 1959 grey Peugeot convertible, with a bit of colour fade. I reckon it would sell quite well at the convention.
I really hope they have a car there, something like $10 to get a photo sitting in it, that would be special.
I’m so excited! Maybe my book on Columbo will be out then, too! Christyne
Oooh, what’s it about specifically?
Wonderful! Can’t wait. Thanks for this great news. Love your “Unconfirmed event rumours” list–ha ha! Thank you, columbophile, for making all things Columbo part of my everyday life–so enjoyable.
Gee whizz, you’re extremely kind, thank you very much!
You’re welcome! We watch Columbo almost every night and then read the passage about that episode from Mark Dawidziak’s “The Columbo Phile: A Casebook” afterwards. Looking forward to procuring “Beyond Columbo: The Life and Times of Peter Falk” on September 10.
any chance of a Columbo event taking place in the UK? There are many fans here too.
Can’t wait. I am a huge Columbo fan, having watched many episodes at least three times
Want to go
Columbo Forever. remember
Fantastic!! Please keep me in the loop. I will be at Columbo Con no matter where it is!!!😄😄😄
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Wow! This would be amazing!!! I really hope it happens…. I’ll start saving for the airfare and hotel now.
Thank you, Columbophile, for making all of this so much fun and for bringing back so many great memories from a favorite show I grew up watching with my parents.
Trish Woodbury San Diego, CA
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Great News. Too bad Universal isn’t hosting do we could have a drive around to locations in LA.
Great idea–that would be wonderful.
This is great news, especially as I live less that 10 miles from Ossining.
This is my dream come true!!