Star Trek Las Vegas Wraps with Jeri Ryan
Star Trek Las Vegas concluded in style on Sunday, as thousands upon thousands of fans squeezed in as many activities as they could before the doors closed on the Star Trek 50th anniversary celebration. The day was filled with celebrity talks and informative panels, fans cosplaying and exchanging numbers and emails, autograph signings and photo ops, and people filling the dealers' room, hoping to snag a last-minute bargain.
The celebs on stage kicked off with Anthony Montgomery. He talked about his ambitious plans for his comic book, Miles Away, his current role as Dr. Maddox on General Hospital and, of course Enterprise.
"It's almost surreal," he said. "I'm just a guy from Indiana. But to everyone who loves Star Trek, I'm something else."
Speaking of Travis Mayweather, he said, "I wanted to make him as excited for life as I am." He, like most fans and most of the Enterprise cast, did not care for the series finale. "We didn't need anyone else to close out our story."
Next, Trek veterans Casey Biggs and Vaughn Armstrong took the stage. Biggs noted that Damar's long run was unexpected. "One line," he said. "One episode. That's all it was supposed to be. And I ended up doing the show for five years, and being the leader."
"My first six hours of shooting was making out with Hoshi," Armstrong said of "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part 1." His wife, a teacher, did NOT want to hear about his day at work.
After talking and answering fan questions, Biggs and Armstrong pulled out their familiar musical instruments and played several songs from their Enterprise Blues Band catalogue. The two will be joined by the rest of the band on Star Trek: The Cruise taking place early next year.
Over in the secondary room, authors Kevin Dilmore, Dayton Ward, Paula Block and Terry Erdmann teamed up for a panel titled Storytelling in the Final Frontier.
Of their novel Love's Latinum Lost, Block said, "The fun for (her and Erdmann) is trying to make the characters as true to themselves as possible, but just put them in weird situations."
"We tend to divide the labor based on plot lines," Ward said of writing with Dilmore. "I tend to gravitate toward authority figures."
Back in the main room, Garrett Wang moderated a conversation with his Voyager co-stars Jeri Ryan, Robert Picardo, Robert Duncan McNeill and Robert Beltran.
A high-functioning man with autism thanked Ryan for bringing so much humanity to Seven of Nine. "That is very, very sweet, and I've heard a lot of people on the autism spectrum tell me that they related to Seven and her experience. My son has Asperger's. So I love that the character gave so many people something to hang on to." And speaking of something to hang on to, the fan wrapped Ryan in a big bear hug.
Not all the conversation was serious. "There were a lot of fart jokes," McNeill said of his Voyager experience. And no one denied it. Then, everyone piled on when McNeill described Wang's stifled laugh as being "like a bumblebee attack."
"We had an alien who looked exactly like Bozo the Clown," Picardo noted.
Robert Beltran's adorable young daughter, Marlene, bounded on stage, with Beltran joking he tried as long as possible to keep it from happening.
She sat happily next to dad for a few moments, but she then walked over to Ryan, hugged her and stayed there, by her side, for the rest of the session.
Then it was on to the next session, which featured the aliens of TOS, namely... Jack Donner (Tal), Sandy Gimpel (M-113 Creature), Clint Howard (Balok) and Bobby Clark (The Gorn).
"It was quite an experience," Clark said of playing the Gorn. "And I'm still here 50 years later saying hello to everyone. So, hello everyone."
"I had no idea that the salt monster was that popular," said Gimpel, who was the stuntwoman and actress inside the costume. She also played one of the Talosians in the original TOS pilot.
The crowd went nuts when fans dressed in costumes as Balok and the salt creature asked the actors questions. They then posed with the actors on stage. Awesome photo op.
On deck was a second DS9 reunion, this one featuring Andrew Robinson, Armin Shimerman, Cirroc Lofton, Rene Auberjoinois, Jeffrey Combs and executive producer/writer Ira Steven Behr.
"I'd like to think I brought nothing but goodwill to Terok Nor," Combs said of Weyoun in words that sounded as sinister as anything the character would utter.
"Having a rubber mask on was like safe sex," Auberjonois said of Odo kissing Kira.
"We all gave seven years of our lives to the show," Behr said. "In terms of what we accomplished, we, for better or worse, stood out." One thing that surely set DS9 apart, he noted, was the recurring cast. "We had such a bullpen, such a bench. No other show had anything like it."
Host Adam Malin revealed that today was Lofton's birthday, and so the entire hall serenaded Lofton with a joyous Happy Birthday. "Being the youngest guy on the set, people had been established, people were pros," Lofton said. "For me, it was an opportunity to learn and soak everything in." He went on to reveal that Avery Brooks is doing OK and said, "He became more of a father figure to me as the years went by."
Robinson, Gerrit Graham and Auberjonois were up for Odo. "The right guy," Robinson said, "got the role."
Roger Lay hosted the next panel, The Costumes of Star Trek, which featured veteran Trek costume designer Robert Blackman, as well as Terry Erdmann and Paula Block, authors of the popular Star Trek Costumes book.
Blackman said he "loves design, loves a challenge, and that's what Star Trek gave me. I was there 16 years." He added, "They gave me a laboratory to work in, and I could create," and also, "I stand on the shoulders of these guys," referring to his predecessors, Bill Theiss and Robert Fletcher.
Erdmann expressed his pleasure at a photo of the Queen Arachnia costume being included in the Star Trek Costumes book, "because the episode was in B&W, so no one knew what color Bob had actually chosen for it." And now they not only do, but fans cosplayed it at STLV.
Moments after Blackman explained that he was against T&A for Ryan's Voyager catsuit, but agreed to craft "a suit that looks like it's been painted on her naked body," Ryan sneaked on to the stage to surprise him.
"This is one of the most-professional women I've ever worked with," Blackman said. And Ryan promptly returned the compliment, saying, "He's a genius, a genius."
And the day's main programming ended with a panel titled Inside the Writers' Room, featuring Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore and Naren Shankar. Of the Moore-Braga collaboration, Moore noted, "Every team does it differently. Brannon and I, one of us would be sitting at the computer and the other pacing."
"It wasn't about hierarchy," Shankar said of his time on TNG, DS9 and Voyager. "You had to defend a story point with a real argument. It was really fun."
"Can I speak Klingon?" Moore asked rhetorically. "Nooooo."
"Most important," Braga suggested to aspiring writers, "you have to keep writing. And your writing will get better."
The day ended, but the night was just getting started. Some fans partook in another Glue Guns and Phasers crafts workshop led by Mary Czerwinski, while others enjoyed happy hour at Quark's Bar, which featured entertainment by Chase Masterson. And, finally, there was a return engagement by the ever-popular Star Trek Rat Pack, a/k/a Max Grodenchick (lyricist and producer), Armin Shimerman, Vaughn Armstrong and Casey Biggs, along with musical accompanist Bill Burchell.