Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention is just six weeks away, so there’s still time to arrange flights and hotel accommodations, to buy tickets and to trek out to Sin City for what’s sure to be the Star Trek event of 2012. They’ve lined up dozens of guests, from the iconic William Shatner to nearly the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and from the leads of the other Trek series to memorable guest stars, as well as several writers, producers and directors. Also on tap are tons of panels (including a batch hosted by StarTrek.com), auctions, contests, parades, special star-studded breakfasts, parties, autograph sessions, photo opportunities, and more.
StarTrek.com has been interviewing some of the guests who’ll be in attendance; we just spoke to Ethan Phillips and Lawrence Montaigne, and be on the lookout for plenty more, including Robert Beltran, director David Livingston, Gregory Itzin and Elizabeth Dennehy, among others, all of whom will be in attendance. We’ll also be providing daily recaps from the event itself. But, really, you want to be part of the action, joining tens of thousands of your fellow Star Trek enthusiasts at the Rio Suites Hotel from August 9-12. To whet your appetite even more, StarTrek.com checked in with Creation Entertainment Co-COO Gary Berman, who filled us in on everything from event logistics to breaking news (Virginia Madsen just joined the guest list) to gearing up for next year’s Official Star Trek Convention.
How is this year’s event coming together so far?
Berman: We are working on scheduling all the guests and events we've booked and, so far, I think the 2012 convention should match the excitement of last year's Vegas show. And last year’s Vegas show probably was the best of all the big Star Trek Conventions we've run.
How long in advance do you actually start working on the annual Vegas event
Berman: We start more than in year in advance if you consider booking the venue and those kinds of details. This convention really gets attention year-round and it is always fun to see what guests and events we can get together.
Who did you snag as guests for this year’s show that you've either rarely ever had before or perhaps have attending for the very first time?
Berman: We always try to get stars that we haven't had before or who haven't done conventions yet. Obviously, this gets harder each year. Fans always write in about Whoopi Goldberg and Kirstie Alley -- and we'd love to have them. Rest assured, we try, but the answer is always no. We have been lucky, however, to get some new stars this time around, including two that are very famous but not generally associated with Star Trek. That would be Ben Vereen and (the just-announced) Virginia Madsen.
This year, we also have some of the really talented writer/producers who made the Star Trek franchise thrive: Ron Moore, Brannon Braga and Ira Steven Behr. Brannon has been with us in Vegas, but it's the first time for the other two gentlemen. We're also welcoming back some of the TNG cast who haven't been part of Vegas for some time: LeVar, Marina, Gates and Diana Muldaur. And, of course, we'll have four captains (Shatner, Brooks, Mulgrew and Bakula) on stage together for the first time in Vegas.
What are some of the events you're most excited about?
Berman: One of the things we really try to do in Vegas is make the event special for the audience. So, beyond the typical question and answer sessions, which are enjoyable but can be seen elsewhere, we try to have theatrical performances from our guests. Those who are able to spend the time preparing and rehearsing really deliver some great moments. In 2012, we're looking forward to Rene (Auberjonois) and Ethan (Phillips) recreating their roles in both the TV series Benson and DS9; Avery Brooks doing a full musical concert for the first time at a convention; a Shakespeare performance by Armin (Shimerman), Jeffrey Combs and Casey Biggs; and a theater piece starring Dominic (Keating), Garrett (Wang) and Connor (Trinneer). We’ve also got Robin Curtis and Eric Menyuk in a TNG spoof and J.G. Hertzler, Robert O'Reilly and Chase Masterson doing a nightclub revue at our two parties at The Voodoo Lounge at the top of The Rio.
Tell us about some more about the parties...
Berman: The Voodoo Lounge is a really cool dinner spot and nightclub 50 floors up, with outdoor viewing areas. We love it because it is in the host hotel and offers a dynamic location for the two special parties we have for our Gold and Captain's Chair customers. The management does a great job with the food and drink as well. On top of that, we have a number of limited attendance parties and food functions with some of the celebrities. These offer attendees the chance to hopefully meet some of the celebrities in a more informal and personal way.
The Rio went over great as a venue. Now that you've got a year there under your belt, what did you learn about the layout, the spacing, the distances, etc., that will come into play this year?
Berman: Considering that last year was our first time in the new location I think it went quite well logistically. We had to have time to learn how the crowd flow would be with the new space. Obviously, there is a lot of walking since the facility is not only far from the hotel rooms, but also so large itself. We'll be opening up additional doors in the front of the main theater so attendees don't have to walk all the way back out and around to get to the other meeting rooms and vendor area. That should help quite a bit.
Any chance of surprises at this year's show?
Berman: The surprises last year were pretty spontaneous, with celebrities crashing each other's panels. I would imagine there will be some of that (again) since so many of the stars are going to be on hand multiple days.
Tell us something about NEXT year’s event?
Berman: For the first time, we're going to present a list of booked guests for next year at the 2012 show. The celebrities have been gracious enough to go to contract so early so that we can lock in some special anniversary salutes and that kind of thing. 2013 should be extra special with the 20th anniversary of DS9 and the next movie being out. We have a lot of plans and hopefully we can deliver!
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