The cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation reunited onstage for the occasion of the 25th Anniversary as the centerpiece of the Grand Slam weekend events. Host Adam Malin valiantly (and in vain) tried to rein in the wildly unpredictable behavior of the intrepid crew, much to the enjoyment and amusement of the packed crowd. Patrick Stewart confessed at the outset that he had stolen Malin's notes, mischievous behavior and very un-Captain-like. Marina Sirtis wasted no time in lambasting her fellow cast mates, particularly the "boys." It was also the occasion of LeVar Burton's birthday, and Creation brought out a big birthday cake as the cast and audience served up a hearty round of Happy Birthday. Brent Spiner was his usual hysterical self. His kids were on hand to ask (evidently) candid questions of their Dad and Patrick Stewart. His older son wondered how Jonathan had managed to crash through the wall of the bridge set, and Brent demonstrated the Road Runner/Coyote move, which Jonathan unwittingly initiated from the "Worf" position atop the bridge semicircle, plowing throughout the set wall in a cut-out body shape. Brent's younger son inquired of Patrick what it was like to be Locutus. Brent responded (in a strikingly similar and funny Patrick accent), but then deferred to the real Captain. Patrick told the boy that he would have liked it if Locutus had won and became the permanent Captain of the Enterprise so that he wouldn't have to work with any of the others! Marina harassed Jonathan, who is now directing for many regular TV shows, about why she hadn't been hired to act on any of his many shoots. Gates partly credited Patrick with convincing her to return to the show for season 3.
The cast paused to offer a fond remembrance of Majel Roddenberry. A true highlight of the evening came when a fan asked Patrick to ascribe a Shakespeare character to each member of the cast. Patrick's vast knowledge of the Shakespeare canon was obvious as he dubbed each cast mate a different character. As Brent is Jewish, Patrick declared him Shylock (the only Jewish character in the Shakespeare repertoire), and on cue, Brent instantly summoned the character and one of his famous soliloquies. Truly impressive. This segment was perhaps the summit of a magnificent and heartfelt evening.
Sunday Feb. 17th Report:
Sunday brought the third and final day at the beautiful Burbank Marriott Airport Hotel over the Feb. 15-17th, 2013 weekend for the 18th installment of Creation Entertainment's legendary Grand Slam: The Star Trek/Sci Fi Summit. This long-running celebration, hosted by Creation Entertainment CEOs Gary Berman and Adam Malin and Creation Talent Producer Stephanie Dizon, brought together a cavalcade of celebrities from Star Trek and TV and film sci fi and fantasy.
First off, Creation introduced the timeless Robert Picardo with a funny Borg Queen music video, with a song track of Robert singing to the tune of Love Boat. Robert announced the release (after 25 years) of the deluxe DVD collection of the TV series China Beach, for which he has done extensive commentary with Dana Delaney and creator William Broyles. Robert, never one to rest on laurels, brought out several performances for the crowd. He offered an audience sing-a-long on the song "You Are My Sunshine," and then a dramatic reading of a poem on Jekyll and Hyde (over the course of which Robert slowly transforms vocally and with body affectation into Hyde).
Up next was actress Hallie Todd, who portrayed Data's daughter/protégé Lal. Looking pretty and trim, Hallie was happy to announce the release of a long-in-development film project, The Mooring, that she stars in. She describes the movie as disturbing, and it is a project for her family (her daughter and husband and herself), as well as for her students. On the role of Lal: she wasn't a sci fi fan, and not familiar with Trek. She actually passed on the audition. She was doing a sitcom for Showtime (Brothers) and thought the Lal role was out of her comfort zone. But the casting director persisted, sending her a video copy of “Datalore,” which really surprised her, and she suddenly realized she had to play the role. As it turns out, this was Jonathan Frakes' directorial debut and the entire cast was rallying for him, so it was a joyful and positive shoot for her.
The next guest was Arlene Martel. She had worked with Leonard Nimoy on Mission: Impossible and The Rebel, and she found him to be a focused Method actor. On dating Shatner vs. Nimoy, she said the frequency would be once every 7 years for Nimoy and 7 times a day for Shatner (audience laughter and applause)! Arlene also appeared on Columbo, Outer Limits and Twilight Zone. On filming Twilight Zone: Rod Serling would always stand off to the side of the set when a scene was being shot. She starred in one of the most iconic Twilight Zone episodes, “Twenty Two.” She also co-starred with Robert Culp (I, Spy) in the classic Harlan Ellison episode of Outer Limits, “Demon with a Glass Hand.”
Next up was the ever-irrepressible Marina Sirtis, looking gorgeous and glamorous in black dress and 5-inch heels. She recalled her "coming out" at the Creation Star Trek Convention at the legendary (and now gone) Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Majel Roddenberry brought her there and also world premiered the early TNG episode “The Traveler.” Marina, in her wonderful "rant" mode, complained that the first time a girl gets to drive the Enterprise (her) she crashes the ship! On one press junket (Generations), the cast went to a screening room in New York. The Enterprise has been "nuked," and the cast appears dead. Marina screamed that they've killed the cast and only Patrick gets to live. Patrick reassured her, "Don't worry, my darling, I save the day and you get to live!" Marina brags about having stolen her director’s chair from the set. She recounted how, while filming Nemesis, the Capts. Chair was stolen, so she has no guilt over stealing costumes, chairs, etc! Marina also complained that whenever Whoopi Goldberg was available to film an episode, standard procedure was to steal Troi's lines. In fact, she discovered that secret script copies actually had certain lines listed for "Troi/ Guinan!" Marina was philosophical about losing the lines because it actually gave her some extra time off work, and having Whoopi brought cachet to the show.
On menopause, it begins with "losing your mind." Men should be patient with their wives as they stick their heads in the freezer! In "Fistful of Datas," she was happy to be able to finally hold a gun. On her career trajectory: she wanted to be a classical actress, a la Judi Dench. She would like to do theater roles, like Ophelia and Cleopatra. She considers herself a Luddite, or one who rejects technology. She doesn't want to go into space (she's afraid of heights), but seriously wants to cure the ills of Earth before we colonize space. On kissing the cast: she's kissed them all, including Gates! On the bath scene with Riker: by the end of the day of filming there was grime on the edge of the Jacuzzi! But she hadn't noticed that the water had gone down, exposing her breasts. Jonathan's eyes kept getting bigger and bigger! But she didn't care, "because English actresses take their tops off at the drop of a hat!" and, "If it's good enough for Helen Mirren, it's good enough for me!" Marina left the stage to a huge applause.
Immediately after Marina, Gates McFadden took the stage, looking gorgeous. Her son Jack is now 22 and 6'2"! She is the artistic director of the nonprofit Ensemble Studio Theater Company of Los Angeles. She recently completed a Nicholas Kazan film, Blood Moon, due out soon. On tap dancing with Data: producers spied her tap dancing on the back lot at Paramount and drafted her for the scene. The truth is, she was Director of Choreography on the motion pictures The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth for the Jim Henson Company, so she has extensive dance and movement experience. In The Hunt for Red October (she played Jack Ryan's wife), much of what she had done was cut out to shorten the film. She loved working with Alec Baldwin, however. She was pregnant around the time of the TNG episode “The Host”, but felt the producers were going for a matronly look for Crusher anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. Only later did they try to make her a little more sexy. On being cast as Beverly Crusher: she actually was the first woman to try for all 3 roles (Doctor, Security Chief and Counselor), but turned the role down to do a play with Linda Hunt. Patrick went down to see her do a play and liked her. Then Gene Roddenberry personally called her to encourage her to take the role, and the rest is history.
After Gates, host Adam Malin conducted an interview with John Noble (Walter of Fringe and Denethor of Lord of the Rings). John's soft-spoken Australian accent sounds completely different from the Walter we all know and love. John talked about the experience of working with Peter Jackson and the amazing artisans of Weta. The facade of Denethor's castle (full size) was filmed in a quarry not far from Wellington, New Zealand. John marveled at the quality of miniatures used to depict the castle and other structures for long shots, as well as the intricate costumes (chain male, leather, hammered metals). Then the conversation moved on to his celebrated role as Walter. John explored Walter's motivations: a man with an obsessive personality (for drugs, food, music, women etc.); a man who bears the weight and responsibility for unraveling the very reality and future of our world; a man who recognizes the burden for setting things right. On Leonard Nimoy: he's at the top of his craft and a wonderful man to work with. On Joshua Jackson: they knew early on that they had a great chemistry that would help anchor the show. On Walternate and the alternate universe: he loved having a completely different set of characterizations to work with, but found Walternate was not received sympathetically at first. As the audience came to understand his motivations (protecting the alternate universe from destruction wrought by our universe, his anger over Walter stealing his son for Walter's reality) he began to be received more positively. John left the stage to a standing ovation, his place in sci fi genre TV history secure.
Following that, host Gary Berman presented an entertaining No Minimum Bid Auction, which included the coveted stage banners signed by all the attending on- stage celebrities of the weekend. Also offered was a range of Trek apparel, drinkware and collectors plates, and lots of photos signed by the casts of several genre TV shows and films.
Then it was time for the comedy team of Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner. These two are a legendary duo together on stage at Creation events, and they did not disappoint. A voice off stage proclaimed "the Jewish android from Texas" and Brent came on stage. Brent then introduced "the beardless wonder" Jonathan Frakes. Jonathan asked Brent (as Patrick Stewart) what it was like to be working again with his old friend Ian McKellen. Brent, in perfect Patrick affectation, said it was great to be back with his chum. One pun after another commenced, including a riff on Jonathan's shaved face, the exact contents of which will not be reported here. Jonathan lamented his Star Trek TV series pitch which was instantly rejected ("We already turned down Shatner and Bryan Singer, and you ain't them!”) On Marina preferring to kiss a man without a beard, Brent prefers to kiss a woman without a beard, too. Brent did a Patrick riff, repeating Patrick's plea from the previous evening to people to not digitally capture them with their cameras and iPhones. Brent noted that the request was currently playing on YouTube! It was suggested the previous night that Brent would be the next Pope (based on his role on Warehouse 13), and Jonathan bowed before him as Brent sprinkled holy water on him. Jonathan also thought Brent would look good in "the hat." Jonathan had high praise for Bruce Campbell who he has directed in Burn Notice. A fan asked about Data walking underwater in Star Trek: Insurrection. Brent told the story of how they filmed up at Convict Lake, California, in freezing weather. They had a stunt man do the walk into water scene, but director Frakes insisted Spiner film the scene for realism. So Brent walked into water dutifully (freezing his ass off), but when he saw the final cut, realized that Frakes had used the footage of the stunt guy, not him! This really pissed him off! Jonathan launched into his signature "Volare" and the audience sang along as the two superstars left the stage to huge applause. Frakes and Spiner had struck again.
Next up was fan favorite superstar Ben Browder, beloved for his portrayal of John Crichton on Farscape (and Cameron Mitchell on SG1). Ben surprised everyone by revealing that he had read for the role of the doctor on DS9. History might have been very different if he had gotten the role. He has, recently, done an episode of Dr. Who (the character Isaac) and Arrow. Ben had to grow an outrageous mustache for the episode, which he still sports. On the glory days of Farscape: the best stuff to film was combination of kissing Claudia Black and blowing stuff up! The final guest of this epic weekend was the star of NBC's Grimm, David Giuntoli. He promised a big fight with the Captain (who has been sleeping with his amnesiac girlfriend), and a major turning point in the show's mythology coming up imminently. He had to jump into the Columbia River for an episode, and it's very polluted, and he got sick instantly. Regarding the use of weapons: even with all the medieval and interesting weapons, his weapon of choice tends to be a baseball bat! One young fan wondered if Nick would ever be a beast like so many other characters on the show (probably not, he's a Grimm).
And with that, Creation Entertainment wrapped up its epic weekend for fans of Star Trek and science fiction (while announcing that it would return in 2014). It was obvious from the throngs of satiated genre fans that Grand Slam would Live Long and Prosper. For more information on Creation events go to creationent.com, and click HERE for the recap of Day One and HERE to read the recap of Day Two.