Creation Entertainment brought The Official Star Trek Convention back to the beautiful City by the Bay for their annual visit. This time the venue was the beautiful Hyatt Regency at San Francisco Airport, a spacious atrium hotel which overlooks the Bay. Convention host (and Creation Co-CEO) Adam Malin greeted the enthusiastic crowd and the show got off to a great start with a 45th Anniversary slideshow presentation conducted by Richard Arnold, Gene Roddenberry's longtime assistant.
Arnold presented unique production shots from TOS, including steps in the optical compositing of combination matte/live action plates. One little known fact that arose was that it was Lucille Ball's own development money that paid for the second Trek pilot after the first didn't fly. He also reminisced about the early 70’s and the dawn of Trek conventions. He went on to work with Gene for many years on a volunteer basis, leading up to the pre-production of ST:TNG, when he went to work fulltime in the legendary Hart building on the Paramount lot as a “consultant,” since the position "archivist" necessitated him joining a union.
Next up, Eric Menyuk spoke about his work as The Traveler on ST:TNG. He enjoyed the three-hour makeup process, and admired the great work of makeup genius Michael Westmore. He did not, however, agree with the design choice of reduced fingers for the character, and he tried to obstruct the views of his hands when possible during the filming. He also revealed that he and Brent Spiner were finalists for the role of Data, and that he feels they made the right choice. In addition to his admiration for Shakespeare, he had a great experience performing the role of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. He finished with a great impression of Patrick Stewart.
For the next event, Malin hosted The Star Trek Trivia Yes/No Game. The winners of round 1 and 2 faced off as finalists in round 3 (a rare occurrence), and Adrian, a fan from the Bay Area, ended up winning $750 in gift certificates. He was also selected to be the human transformed into a Klingon by makeup wizard John Paladin, who would be appearing on stage later that day.
After the contest, Go-Go’s band member Jane Wiedlin appeared on stage for the first time at a Trek event to talk about her role in Trek IV: The Voyage Home as Communications Officer Trillya. She described her experience being directed by Leonard Nimoy as wonderful. She felt he was gentle and supportive, considering she had begged casting to get a role in the film. Turns out she's a huge Trek fan. By coincidence she was signing autographs out in the vendors’ area next to Bobby Clark, the man who was the Gorn in TOS, and she told Bobby that he scared the hell out of her as a kid! She also went on to describe her new sci-fi comic book series Lady Robotica, which she claims is all true, in which she is abducted by aliens and goes on to become an intergalactic superhero. She also described a late-night light saber battle with friends on a San Francisco mountain top, during which she fell off a cliff, crushed her knee, got poison oak rash all over her body, and resultantly terminated a Go-Go’s tour before it began. She revealed, however, that they are planning a farewell tour for this year or next. She also spoke about her role in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and working with a pre-Matrix Keanu Reeves. Wiedlin does a considerable amount of voiceover work on shows like Batman and Pinky and the Brain. All in all, a talented and artistic lady.
After that, John Paladin came on stage to talk about his makeup career and to do an on stage makeup demo/application to the previously mentioned contest winner. John has done makeup work for several Star Trek: Phase II productions, including "Of Gods and Men" and "Kitumba," and he swiftly began transforming his model into a Klingon using latex pieces and carefully blended cements and makeups, while explaining the process step by step.
The final event of the day was an interview on stage with Grace Lee Whitney conducted by Adam Malin. They began their dialogue with a trip through film history, recounting Grace's work on Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe and the great Billy Wilder. She recently appeared with Tony and the surviving girls from the film at a 50th anniversary celebration held at the Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego (just before Curtis passed away). She worked with Shatner and Nimoy on a Man from Uncle episode, and Deforest Kelley on one of Gene Roddenberry's pre-Trek shows. So that by the time they did their table read for “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” they were all comfortable with one another. The reading went famously and they knew they had magic in a bottle. She recounted the creation of the fabulous Janice Rand look: the makeup, hair, uniform, as well as the unique way she was lit and the saturated colors of the show. One of her favorite episodes was “The Enemy Within,” in which a deranged Kirk grabs her and pulls her viciously across the floor of his cabin. She was bruised from the experience, but knew she had created a powerful moment with Shatner. Whitney also had great memories of the films, including the Trek IV control room sequence in which the storm is blasting through the control center and all hell is breaking loose. She and Majel Barrett-Roddenberry spent two weeks on that pivotal scene.
Throughout her talk was the recurring theme of sobriety. The loss of the Rand role (purportedly due to her substance abuse) continued a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior, but as Grace put it, it was necessary to bottom out. She had already observed the meltdown of others like Marilyn Monroe in her lifetime, but was proud to announce she was entering her 30th year of sobriety, to which she got a standing ovation. Truly an inspiring lady and a great way to end the day.
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