It was Saturday, November 17, 2012, and day two of Creation Entertainment's Official Star Trek Convention at the beautiful Westin St. Francis in the city by the bay, San Francisco. That San Fran is the home of Starfleet Command was not lost on this eager, enthusiastic audience on hand to join in the fun and festivities that had launched the day before with Trek luminaries that included Jeff Combs, Marc Alaimo, David Gerrold and Morgan Gendel.
Upon entry one was first treated to two ornate hotel ballrooms packed to the gills with Trek and sci-fi vendors hawking all types of wonderful collectibles, including original art, action figures, costumes, jewelry, T shirts, drinkware and much more.
Creation Entertainment co-CEO Adam Malin launched the show with an energetic opening address, clearly pumped up by the capacity crowd (the entire weekend was a sold-out event, quite an accomplishment given the vast size of their meeting space, which sprawled over two floors of the hotel in elegant ballrooms that echoed the gilded age when they were built and embellished with frescoes, gold leaf and magnificent detailings).
First guest out of the gate was fan favorite John de Lancie, looking as fit, dapper and elegant as 25 years ago when he came into our hearts as the irrepressible Q on TNG pilot episode. This being the 25th anniversary of TNG, John was nostalgic and forward-thinking simultaneously. He mentioned working on The Young People's Guide to the Orchestra (John is a narrator with several orchestras around the United States). But currently John is busy working on a documentary about the TV series My Little Pony. It began with him doing a small voiceover gig for the show. He began receiving hundreds of e mails from fans ("Bronies") of the show. More interestingly, despite the predicted demography of the viewership (young girls), it was mainly male teenagers that were reaching out to him. What emerged was a growing fan culture that appealed to a wide-ranging group of both sexes, as well as embracing transgender and alternate gender sexual orientation portions. John went forward to use Kickstarter to raise funds for a documentary about the Bronies phenomenon that he will be releasing in the future (he ran a clip from the film which was quite good).
His love of orchestras comes from a father who was a classical oboe player for the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. He was refreshed to discover his dad also loved Jimi Hendrix. On the lesson Q was trying to impart to Picard in "All Good Things…": pull pants up, pull uniform down! One attendee wondered if John was as annoying as Q in real life? He replied that his wife thinks so. On being all powerful: an actor doesn't really "play" it that way. He instead goes to what it is the character is doing, such as being a judge. On acting: think of yourself as an athlete. It's a physical sport. You have to do it over and over. Constant repetition is what builds chops, essentially. The 10,000 hours theory. And with that John left the stage with a hearty sendoff from the audience.
Next up was video programmer Ryan Seymour, who presented a well-researched and enjoyable multimedia presentation on the history of Star Trek video games. The early games were certainly primitive, and there have been more than 60 titles over the years. Some were for arcades, some for personal computers, some for TVs via game consoles, and more recently for massive multiplayer uses. The first game, from 1971, was essentially a text game for early personal computer. Strategic Operations Simulator was the first arcade game in 1982 by Sega. Four buttons: Warp, Thrust, Protons, and Fire. The first video game cartridge, for Atari 2600, was an adaption of Strategic Operations Simulator, using a point and click. It's remarkable to hear the voices of Shatner, Nimoy, Takei and Koenig in Star Trek: Judgment Rites. The recent entry Starfleet Academy, with its striking CGI representations of Kirk and Sulu, shows how far the technology has come.
The next speaker is a much-loved actress from TNG, Denise Crosby, who arrived with much audience excitement. After doing a shout-out to Giants fans, she revealed that she had gone to school in Santa Cruz. She announced that she is developing a game with CBS Consumer Products for Star Trek Online in which we discover that Tasha Yar lives. The character who died on the show was actually a clone. Denise also (half-jokingly) conjectured that Tasha and Sela would one day face off. She also has a new series for Showtime called Ray Donovan (created by Sally Bitterman) about a private detective and "fixer" in LA. Jon Voight co-stars along with Elliot Gould. Denise plays Gould's mistress.
On leaving TNG: Gene Roddenberry regretted her departing very much but was supportive. He also saw an opportunity to shock and awe the audience with a significant death early on in the show history. Gene noted, however, that Denise would not be able to return. But return she did, as Sela! Fans generally agree that Tasha's demise was not satisfying. One fan noted that Q pushed Tasha around a lot. Denise replied that she hated him and wanted to smack his little face around. On being Sela, daughter of Tasha: Denise felt it was a wonderful opportunity as an actress. She wanted to create a distinct character, and once she had the little blond wig and Romulan costume on she could feel the transformation coming. As a daughter herself, she understood the basic feeling of separation from one's mother. The character was Denise's creation and she lobbied Rick Berman for the role. She saw the character as a fish out of water, a Dances With Wolves-type of displaced person. One attendee was curious as to what happened between Tasha and Data "behind the door." Denise admitted that they "played cards and watched TV." Judging by the enormous applause on her departure, it's obvious the audience isn't through with Denise or Tasha.
The next guest was Trek character actor Alexander Enberg. Alexander has appeared as several different characters on both TNG and Voyager. He described himself as a hyperactive kid who began acting in high school. It was Cyrano de Bergerac and On the Waterfront that convinced him to become a professional actor. Regarding the Vulcan Ensign Vorik on Voyager, who was about to experience Pon Farr, he described the character as a catalyst to bring together Tom Paris and B’Elanna in the plot (and of course he kept the ears). He also discussed his work as a sound designer for theater productions in the Los Angeles area.
After Alexander, the next speaker was Gene Roddenberry's longtime right hand man, Richard Arnold, who offered a 25th anniversary multimedia presentation on TNG. He presented some rare images from the production of the show and offered some fun commentary. For instance, Gene credited Tracey Torme with saving his marriage through the creation of the character of Lwaxana Troi. Gene came home to Majel and declared that they had a great role for her, and she "wouldn't even have to act." Majel described the character as the "Auntie Mame of the galaxy".
Next up was the return of David Gerrold, who had appeared Friday as well at the convention. David is well known and beloved for his TOS classic episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” as well as several animated Trek episodes. Regarding the development of TNG, David recalls a 20th anniversary party at Paramount for TOS on Sept. 8th, 1986, where the announcement of a new series was conspicuously absent. In fact, in early October he was hired with the group goal of re-inventing Star Trek. Although originally slated for Fox, the series instead was destined for first-run syndication. David worked with Gene to flesh out the crew. Instead of a Vulcan they chose an android. David was reluctant to have a 15-year old super-genius who could save the ship, as it smacked too much of Lost in Space. Instead he suggested an intellectually precocious young man who was nonetheless immature. It took several of them, including Dorothy Fontana, who helped write “Encounter at Farpoint,” to push this idea through. As the pilot was originally a one-hour, suddenly the character of Q pushed it into a two-hour saga, complete with a Klingon. There were issues with Gene's lawyer and a mass exodus of production people, including David. Instead of writing for TNG, David adopted a young boy, somewhat unheard of in that era. As a single gay man, David faced many challenges in the process. One of the things that emerged from the adoption was that he developed a creative project regarding the experience, and he wrote The Martian Child, which went on to become a film.
On “Trials and Tribble-ations,” production took great pains to duplicate the look of TOS episode. David had high praise for their ability to match the look so seamlessly. On being a writer and creating a script: he said one will be discouraged by rejection, but if you have determination and perseverance you can succeed. He recommended Joe Straczynski's (Babylon 5) book on screenwriting.
Next on the program was the second of the weekend's No Minimum Bid Auctions. This one featured an amazing surprise item, an actual shooting script from Enterprise signed by Scott Bakula. Also included were stage banners signed by all the celebrities at the convention, signed collectibles by luminaries like Jimmy Doohan, and a little-seen but notorious item -- the Mr. Spock liquor decanter.
Then it was time for the arrival of Walter Koenig, fresh off his triumphant Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, where he finally received his Star. He reminisced about working with Celeste Yarnall on TOS episode, “The Apple.” An attendee noted a Russian remark Walter made in Star Trek III. He acknowledged that both his parents were Russian (Lithuanian), but that he didn't actually know now to speak the language! James Caan, Dabney Coleman and Christopher Lloyd were mentioned as peers in his acting class.
On acting with a dialect: he described the English system as a thing where they start with the outside of a character as being the springboard to the inner self of the character. He says that is how he approached a character like Chekhov. He also bemoans the so-called experts out there who tell him he doesn't know how to speak in the proper dialect. He says that's how his father spoke and that's good enough for him! On filming in the Alameda area of the bay in Star Trek IV: he asked an actual passerby where Alameda was located, and the spontaneous exchange made it into the film. Regarding the filming of Star Trek V: expecting the worst from director Bill Shatner, he was pleasantly surprised to find Bill solicitous and supportive. He also enjoyed filming the fan film Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. As a final remark, he mentioned a surgical procedure he underwent a few years ago. Upon awakening from the anesthesia, he heard the words of the surgeon in the familiar Scottish brogue: "I got a wee bit of bad news for you, laddie". Walter left to a standing ovation.
Following him was the intrepid team of Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn (both look great). Marina, typically possessive and bossy, wasted no time launching into poor Michael as they discussed how they got to know each other during the early days of TNG. Michael says he hated her initially until she cooked a nice meal for him. As usual, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. She noted that Michael is now a macrobiotic vegan and would never eat what she served to him then. She also insisted that he take his Klingon teeth out of his mouth before Worf kissed Troi. As friends, it was embarrassing for them to actually kiss, and Michael made a guttural groan when they did. Marina wondered whether that was Worf or Dorn making that noise.
Marina dissed the DS9 set, calling it a morgue (meaning the cast was so serious and focused) versus TNG set where everyone was laughing and having a great time (the two shows existed across the lot from one another for two years together). On Voyager Marina had a great time working with Bob Picardo. Marina complained about Michael getting a voiceover job on Hotel Transylvania when it was she that got him the job. When the next attendee had a question for Marina, she pushed Michael out of the way to answer who was the better kisser, Worf or Riker. While not commenting on Jonathan, she said that "Dorny" has the lips. She also divulged that some of the male members of TNG cast wore girdles.
Marina also goofed on Michael, who said after TNG that he would never wear makeup ever again, until they threw enough money at him to do DS9. On favorite episodes: Michael liked “The Drumhead,” with Jean Simmons; Marina liked “The Measure of a Man.” Michael said that when he would say something typically servile to Capt. Picard ("Yes Captain"), Patrick would come back with something like "Oh shut up, you stupid Worf".
On why he wanted to do DS9, before Michael could respond Marina inserted that it was so he could grope Terry Farrell. He responded that he wanted to expand Worf's character arc. On Majel: there was some trepidation about "the boss's wife" coming on the set, but they found her to be a wonderful addition to the ensemble. They also loved how Gene came and admired his wife when she was filming. On the development of the Worf/Troi romance: Marina claimed the producers and writers watched Beauty and the Beast one too many times. One attendee wondered who was the better kisser for Worf, Troi or Dax? The wise diplomat Michael immediately pointed to Marina, who threatened the person asking the question. Michael winked and gave a thumbs up to the guys in the audience. Judging by the mammoth applause and standing ovation this hysterical pair received as they departed, it's obvious they have carved a permanent place in the hearts of Trek fans everywhere.
Afterwards, host Adam Malin offered up an entertaining game show format, The Star Trek Yes/No Trivia Challenge, which brought scores of audience members up on stage to compete against one another in being last fan standing as they answered trivia questions by holding up yes or no cards. As Malin concluded the competition, the stage curtains parted, and much to the amazement of everyone in the room (including Malin), Nichelle Nichols emerged to a thunderous roar from the audience. As the two embraced, the befuddled show host wondered why she was at the show. She explained that she was in town for business and couldn't resist crashing the convention, much to the incredible good fortune of everyone on hand. Walter was signing autographs and she tried to get him on stage, but he resisted. The audience began chanting his name and he finally relented, but only to stick his head through the curtain. She took the opportunity to sing a version of her classic "Beyond Antares."
The final event of the day was a dazzling Costume Competition with close to 50 entries. The winners included Dr. Who, Lal, a sinister but beautiful Romulan Commander, and the towering alien dummy Balok of “The Corbomite Maneuver.” They were amazing winners and entries and brought a truly memorable day to a truly memorable conclusion.
Click HERE to read our recap of day one’s events. Guests today, the final day of the convention, will include George Takei, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton and Hallie Todd. Visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow to check out our recap of today’s events at Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention in San Francisco.
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