Sunday, June 10, 2012 brought day two of Creation Entertainment's Official Star Trek Convention to Nashville, Tennessee, at the beautiful (and enormous) Gaylord Opryland Hotel. The day promised -- and delivered -- a host of legendary guests from various incarnations of Trek, including a continuation of the celebration for the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Creation will continue the celebration on an even more massive scale at their Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, coming on August 9-12 to the Rio Hotel; StarTrek.com will provide complete coverage, and for more information go to creationent.com.
First off for the day was Richard Arnold, returning for the second half of his exclusive presentation on the production of TNG. As longtime assistant to Gene Roddenberry, Richard was on hand for the entire historic process and took a host of historic behind-the-scenes photos which he shared with the audience. Some of the behind-the-scenes looks included makeup wizard Michael Westmore working on the cast, Brent Spiner mugging for the cameras in serious prank shots, crews at work around various Los Angeles and surrounding area locations, Paramount back lot shenanigans, and on-set work in progress. Whoopi Goldberg was a beloved personality on the set, and one day with Wil Wheaton she messed up a line and cursed! As Wil was a minor, profanity was frowned upon, particularly by Wil's teachers.
Several shots of director Cliff Bole (one of TNG's most prolific directors) showed how vigorous the process was for everyone, as there were frequently 18-hour days of production. The great James Doohan was on set to film an episode and was afforded the royal treatment by the cast. Leonard Nimoy's son Adam was seen directing several episodes. Patrick Stewart directed some episodes and was considered very diligent in his preparation for the shoots. Dr. Mae Jamison, our first African American woman astronaut, visited the set (Dr. Jameson was inspired to join NASA by watching Nichelle Nichols on The Original Series), as did Dr. Stephen Hawking, who was a real cut-up, joking with the entire cast. He remains the only person to play himself on any incarnation of Star Trek. One funny shot involved Patrick Stewart buddying it up with a fleet of Borg. Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn and LeVar Burton also directed episodes and were similarly given high reviews for the quality and preparation of their work.
Following Richard, Creation co- CEO Adam Malin (who was the show host) launched into a hysterical segment of Creation's famous Stump the Experts Trivia Competition. Three experts, fans selected from the audience at random, matched wits with the audience on questions that were frequently funny and bordered on highly obscure. Questions were punctuated by funny sounds cues courtesy of the great Carl Stalling, composer/ orchestrator for Looney Tunes.
Next up was Marina Sirtis, looking stunning and lean in her first Creation appearance in several years. She claimed that her cast had the best time of any Star Trek cast while filming (something this reporter expects other show cast members would dispute). Reflecting on the first film with the TNG cast (Generations), Marina remembers reading the script and delighting in the fact that Troi gets to "drive the ship." She called "Dorney" on the phone to crow about it, and he said, "Have you finished the script yet? Finish it, then call me!" She finished reading the script, and she was "pissed." Blind people get to drive the ship, not a scratch. But for Troi... well, Marina noted, that planet just came out of nowhere!
One attendee asked if Jonathan really put Marina's dog in the microwave! She responded, no, of course, not... it was Brent. She also noted that her breasts don't need enhancing! One fan called her the sexiest character in Star Trek. Another asked who the best kisser was on the show. Marina claims to have kissed all the guys in the cast, and says they all have good lips. One time when Worf was kissing Troi, Michael started making grunting noises. Afterwards, Marina asked Michael if it was Worf or Michael making those passionate sounds, and Michael just smiled and walked away. She invoked the "old Baldie" slogan that has endeared itself with Patrick (not). She also says all the male members of the cast are afraid of her.
One time Patrick called her a "stupid cow" in response to a flubbed line, and she came over to him and screamed, "Watch out, your Majesty, you can't hide behind Spiner. He doesn't have super human strength!" Recalling her early days on the show, the word came down to her that one of the women on the show was going to be let go, which was very depressing to her. Majel Roddenberry, who was a very maternal and caring person to her, called on a Saturday afternoon and convinced her to come down to the fabled Ambassador Hotel (the now-gone hotel where Robert Kennedy was shot), where Creation was running a Star Trek convention. She introduced Marina to a Star Trek fan audience for the first time, and afterwards Majel told her to call Adam Malin and get herself booked into some Creation events, which she did, in part to gain favor with the audience and make it undesirable for the studio to fire her! The campaign worked, and the rest was history. Finally, she paid homage to and acknowledged her debt to her fans, whom she loves very much and who helped give her the life and lifestyle she has enjoyed for so many years (including a 25-year old Porsche Carrera stick shift). She left the stage to a standing ovation.
Next up, Malin hosted a segment of Creation's famous Yes-No Trivia Contest in which groups of 20 fans compete to be the last one standing through a gauntlet of trivia questions. Three groups yielded 3 prize winners.
Then it was time for the Classic Trek Super Summit with Nichelle Nichols and George Takei. First up was the gorgeous Ms. Nichols, ageless and vibrant. She spoke about how humbling her fame and recognition are to her, and the fact that she almost gave it all up, until that fateful day when she met Dr. Martin Luther King. She told him she was leaving Star Trek, but he convinced her to stay because it was so important for the social evolution of our country and society. She was also proud of her campaigning for NASA, and having attracted women and ethnic minorities into the program, including astronaut Mae Jameson.
Nichelle then brought on George, who welcome everyone to the GAYlord Opryland Resort, and commented on the diversity of the cities in Tennessee. By contrast, he said that Star Trek fans shared a great unity, the IDIC concept and the embracing of the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity, following Gene Roddenberry's great humanist vision. Regarding the revolution in thinking about gay and transgender orientation, as well as same sex marriage, George is asking for equality. He noted how in his day, a white woman would never marry an Asian man. Now here he is, an Asian man married to a white guy! He spoke about the Founding Fathers, and their quest for justice and equality for all. He cited our African American President Obama as a very positive sign of change. At the time of TOS, the idea of a Russian as part of a multinational crew was revolutionary. Now, as George pointed out, Russians, Americans and other nationalities share duties on the International Space Station. George also had the pleasure of recently visiting Johnson Space Center, where he got to ride on the Mars Rover. At this point, George invited Nichelle back on stage where the two answered questions together.
One fan wondered about Nichelle working with NASA. She marveled at the technology that has been developed by them, and how Roddenberry predicted some of the technological breakthroughs that would actually come to pass in our lifetimes. Another inquiry was about George's charity on Celebrity Apprentice. George explained that the organization is a national museum that sends exhibits around the country to talk about the disgrace of the Japanese internment camps. One fan asked about George's association with Howard Stern, whom he described as an enlightened but "frisky and ribald" personality. Another asked about George's best marriage advice. One person confessed to not being a Star Trek fan, but, having been inspired by so much by George and Nichelle, would become one! Finally, Nichelle sang the TOS theme song, with George offering the Shatner narration. They left the rage to thunderous applause.
Afterwards, Malin treated the audience to a final No Minimum Bid Auction. This one featured a bona fide TNG Writers Guide, some fantastic lots of signed photos from diverse genre TV series like Firefly, Smallville, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica and others, and show banners festooned with the signatures of attending guests. Once again, Creation was also raising charity funds for Arts High Foundation, an organization that raises money for arts education in high schools (artshighfoundation.org).
The final, climactic event of the day was special guest of honor Avery Brooks, our own Capt. Benjamin Sisko. Dressed in his usual impeccable manner and looking trim and energized, Avery regaled the packed house with reminiscences of his tenure on DS9. He also spoke positively of his time on Spenser For Hire, and of a certain .357 Magnum Colt that he became attached to. Judging by the standing ovation afforded him, the love of his worldwide audience is quite secure.
It was a triumphant end to a thrilling, immersive weekend into the Star Trek universe that is a signature of Creation Entertainment events. Click HERE to read the Day 1 recap.
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