Creation's Philly/NJ Trek Convention, Day 3 Recap
Sunday came quickly in Cherry Hill at day three of Creation Entertainment's Official Star Trek Convention. The weekend had been a celebration of the 25th anniversary of TNG and included a star-studded group of celebrities headed by Sir Patrick Stewart. First guest of the day was LeVar Burton, who was greeted with a standing ovation. LeVar was in fine spirits and spoke to the packed house, updating the audience on new projects. He has Perception, a new series with Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), coming to TNT and recently appeared on the comedy Community. Perhaps most importantly, LeVar announced the return of his wonderful and educational show Reading Rainbow… as an app. It is coming to tablet first, and then will roll out to Android mobile devices. It will be a free app with a subscription-based financial model, with hundreds of book titles available monthly for parents to download for their kids.
The audience then proceeded to ask questions about TNG, LeVar's directing career, the VISOR and the cast ("we were always laughing"). Suddenly, an annoying "fan" in a cap with a nasal voice asked the same question as the previous person, and much to audience delight this turned out to be Brent Spiner in his geeky fan persona. LeVar, clearly amused by this intrusion, went along for the ride. Super Geek Fan asked if LeVar was the actor he had seen in the TV show “Ritz.” LeVar said yes, he had appeared in Roots. SGF said that he could identify with Kunta Kinte because he was a black man too (the audience roared)! Just when we thought it was going to end, a raucous Jonathan Frakes crashed the party, inquiring whether Patrick Stewart's accent was real or fake (LeVar reported it was fake). Thus, LeVar's segment came to a close on two outrageous exclamation points, with the audience again delivering a standing ovation.
Following that, show host and Creation Co-CEO Adam Malin offered an entertaining Stump the Experts Trivia Competition, bringing three fans on stage who took some tough trivia questions from the audience. One fan asked them to name all nine Dax symbionts; another asked what car make and model Leonard Nimoy appeared in on a vintage TV commercial that appeared during the run of the original series. Plenty of prizes were distributed to people who answered these and other tough questions.
Next up was the lovely Chase Masterson, who reminisced about her stint as Leeta on Deep Space Nine. She spoke lovingly about Max Grodenchik, whose endearing performance as Rom is a fan favorite. Evidently Max is a crack baseball player, and for the episode "Take “Me Out to The Holosuite” he had to play left-handed to get Rom to appear awkward as a player. She also revealed that at the close of the series, she got a hold of Dr. Bashir's medicine cabinet (they were going to trash it). Chase also talked about her charitable work with several challenged-children's groups. She mentioned her experience in musical theater. Her first play was Oklahoma, and she also went on to do some Shakespeare, including A Midsummer Night's Dream. She also offered some of her beautiful song stylings, including Peggy Lee's “Fever” and “Pure Imagination.” Chase is always a class act.
Following was Creation's famous No Minimum Bid Auction, where Malin was blowing out rare collectibles at a fraction of their retail value. Items included banners signed by all the attending celebrities of the weekend, some of the proceeds of which benefitted Arts High Foundation, a charity that supports arts education for high school students (artshighfoundation.org).
The final event of the day was widely anticipated: the comic duo of Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner. These two are hugely entertaining whenever they appear together, and this appearance was no exception. Frakes entered with a rousing chorus of “Volare,” which the audience answered in turn. Spiner wasted no time in lacerating Patrick Stewart with an endless barrage of putdowns, all in Patrick's distinctive voice. Between constant comic patter, the two men fielded a barrage of questions about TNG and their current work. They recalled an endless procession of famous personalities who visited the series over their seven-year tenure, among them Madeleine Albright, Stephen Hawking, Ronald Reagan and Mick Fleetwood. Suddenly, without warning, a nerdy voice called out to Spiner, saying that his favorite episodes of TNG featured Geordi. Sure enough, LeVar Burton joined the group and made it a trio. They thanked the fans for all their devotion and support of the show and continued punctuating their discussion with frequent barbs (mainly in Patrick's direction). They left the stage to another standing ovation.
A showing of Gene Roddenberry's personal TOS blooper reel and a final presentation in which the audience discussed possible plots for the next Trek film ended the show on an upbeat note. With Creation returning next year (May 3-5, 2013 again at the Crowne Plaza Cherry Hill) and promising a star-studded salute to the 20th Anniversary of Deep Space Nine, it's obvious that Star Trek fandom is going to live long and prosper.