To paraphrase his co-star’s catchphrase from “The Terminator,” Michael Biehn won’t be back.
He won’t be coming back to El Paso, that is.
Biehn, known for his roles in "The Terminator" and "Aliens," attended this past weekend’s EP-CON at the El Paso convention center to sign autographs and meet fans on Saturday and Sunday but will be leaving Monday with some bad memories of the city. His wife, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, also attended the show.
The couple said the promoter of the show, Julian Lawler, did not fulfill the terms of their contract. A copy of the contract, which was shown to ABC-7. stated Biehn was guaranteed to be paid $12,000 by the promoter at the official end of EP-CON.
“They stiffed us for $6,500,” Biehn said in a phone conversation late Sunday night. “We were irate and unhappy. I sat for three hours after the time I was supposed to leave, waiting to get paid. I’ve done a lot of these shows and never been ripped off. I have a contract with Julian."
Things got heated with Jennifer having words with Lawler.
"He (Lawler) kept sending this heavy-set guy to move me around. I got into it with him. No punches were thrown but the police got called in," Biehn said of his confrontation with a man he said was about 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds. "I sat with police officers for about three hours, waiting to get paid.”
Jennifer and her husband said Lawler did not make an effort to work out how Biehn could get paid the rest of the amount, perhaps even through a series of payments.
“I would love for them to clear it up, and maybe an apology,” Jennifer said.
Lawler said he tried to pay Biehn but that Biehn didn't want to be paid how Lawler was going to pay him.
“We were trying to pay him early but he didn’t want to take a check,” Lawler said in a phone conversation late Sunday night. “We were using our revenue to pay some of the actors. Our attendance wasn’t as great as I thought it would be and he didn’t want to take a check. He wanted cash. So I paid the other actors and by the time, I guess he changed his mind, I was out of funds. So I’ll have to pay him later.”
Lawler said Biehn would be paid in the next few days when the event is streamed.
“So we should be fine. We’ll get caught up,” Lawler said.
A post on EP-CON’s Facebook page Sunday night stated “So here's the best part!!!! Anyone who didn't get to check out EPCON 2012 live, you can check it out on iTunes for $1.99 so if you missed it, you get a second chance....stay tuned!!!!!”
“Talking to the Biehns, they’re not exactly the nicest people on the block," Lawler said by phone. "They had a confrontation with the event manager at the convention center.”
Biehn said Carol McNeal was the one cutting checks for the event and that she was “rude.” McNeal is director of Facility Sales and Marketing for the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) which operates the convention center.
“She’s very nasty,” Biehn said. “Rarely have I ever been treated that way. We were just trying to be paid and sitting there."
CVB officials issued a statement Monday afternoon disputing Biehn's assertion that McNeal was rude to him.
"This is not factual. Ms. McNeal at no time spoke with Mr. Biehn or had any direct or indirect interactions with him. Ms. McNeal is only responsible for approving payments made from box office funds and is not involved in Mr. Lawler’s obligations or his failure to pay the talent. As reported by KVIA, Mr. Biehn was physically aggressive with venue event staff, at one point forcing his way in to the secured venue box office. Police were brought in to help secure the box office and prevent further aggressive actions towards venue staff.," according to the CVB statement.
It’s not a case of Hollywood actors pulling an attitude, Biehn said.
“There’s no ego,” Biehn said. “I didn’t take lunches. I gave away a lot of pictures and autographs to kids and people in the service.”
Biehn said other actors and some EP-CON workers were partially paid or not paid at all. (Editor's Note: The phone call interview with Lawler dropped out. Subsequent calls went to his voicemail inbox, which was full. A text and email were sent to Lawler asking him to comment on Biehn's claims about other actors and workers not getting paid. A comment by Lawler on those claims has not been received.)
Biehn said what happened to him and others does not look good for El Paso.
"It's a stain on your city," Biehn said.
The El Paso Convention Center operates the venue box office, selling tickets to the event. The funds received from ticket sales were held by the Convention Center on behalf of Lawler. At the conclusion of the event, these funds were made available to Lawler to pay event expenses.