The fun at Star Trek Las Vegas started early on Saturday, day four of the epic event, as a galaxy of colorfully attired fans gathered at 8 a.m. for the Star Trek Costume Parade, an annual favorite at the convention. If the character or creature could be created, it was represented, and in style, at the parade.
Then it was on to the guests and panels. Veteran Trek composer Jay Chattaway went first. He admitted he wasn't really a Trek fan, but he'd seen The Original Series in college, and "loved the music." He then explained that the TNG producers tested prospective composers by giving them an episode to do. Chattaway "incorporated whale sounds into my first score, which was for 'The Tin Man,' and they loved it." The rest is history.
Chattaway went on to switch off with Dennis McCarthy on every other episode of TNG and DS9. It was, he said, "frantic for quite a while."
He then played a few notes from "The Inner Light Suite" on a penny whistle and revealed that "the tune came to me in 10 minutes."
Next, Roger Lay welcomed Doug Drexler, Herman Zimmerman, Mike and Denise Okuda and Ronald B. Moore to the stage for a panel paying tribute to the legendary Matt Jeffries, whose greatest gift to the world was his design of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701. Jeffries, Zimmerman noted, also "created the floor plan of the Enterprise, which is quite a unique place to tell stories."
"Growing up as a child," John Eaves said, "the Enterprise was one of my favorite models." He added, "It's been wonderful to help keep Jeffries' designs alive," through the various incarnations of the Enterprise and other ships he's worked on.
"Imagine being in a dark room," Moore said, "and being able to light the Enterprise."
"Matt (Jeffries) was just a wonderful guy, an unassuming guy," Drexler said. "We were lucky to get to know him."
A battle royale was a-brewing nearby, as Jordan Hoffman got the second and last StarTrek.com One Trek Mind Live panel going. Today's mission was to determine the 10 best episodes ever of Star Trek. Among the top ten were "Amok Time," "Yesterday's Enterprise," "In a Mirror, Darkly" and "In the Pale Moonlight." Coming in at number one was "The City on the Edge of Forever."
Back on the main stage, fans were treated to a panel devoted to women in Star Trek, with a focus on feminism in Trek over the past 50 years.
Panelists included Amy Imhoff, Dr. Kayla Iacocino, Bjo Trimble, Kate Mulgrew, Mary Czerwinski and Jarrah Hodge.
"I've been an inadvertent feminist my entire life," Trimble said. She then noted the career of Trek writer Dorothy Fontana, who first went by the name D.C. Fontana. "Dorothy took no prisoners. She did the initials at first, but later she was Dorothy Fontana."
"I've had the great privilege of playing the first and, so far, only female captain in Star Trek," Mulgrew said. "It's ironic that now I play a woman in a kitchen, in a prison."
Mulgrew also said, to cheers, "I've never considered myself a feminist. I just assumed my own independence since the day I was born." And, referring to a confluence of strong woman, she said, "It was Mrs. Clinton who invited me to the White House at the end of the first season of Voyager."
Czerwinski, known for Glue Guns & Phasers, said, "It meant so much to me to see someone on screen who was flawed," she said, referring to Janeway. "Because no one is perfect."
Next, fans got their money's worth with a typically unpredictable appearance by the troika of Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn and Jonathan Frakes. Dorn was the sedate one, as always. Sirtis, as usual, spoke her mind unapologetically. And Frakes couldn't sit still, traversing the stage, stepping into the audience, and pulling out questions from a Trek Trivial Pursuit game on the desk he commandeered.
"My two favorite TNG episodes weren't even mine," Dorn said. "They were 'The Drumhead' and 'The Offspring.'"
"Deanna was nice," Sirtis said. "Marina not so much." Discussing what went unexplored when it came to Troi, Sirtis said, "I always wanted to know what she was doing when she wasn't being a counselor. Or working out in those ugly Spandex."
"Marina, who was a better kisser, Riker or Worf?" Frakes asked Sirtis. She didn't take the bait. "I plead the Fifth," she replied.
Walter Koenig took the stage next. He looked and sounded good. He never thought he'd be talking about Trek 50 years later. "Who did?" He asked rhetorically. "No one. We all thought it was over."
Then, pulling a page from the Eagles and their "Hell Freezes Over" album, Koenig shocked everyone in the room when he said, "I just sat with Bill (Shatner) for a couple of minutes. I've made a lot of jokes at his expense. After talking to him, I do regret that he feels badly about how we felt about him."
A fan asked about the death of Anton Yelchin, Koenig's successor as Chekov, who died in a tragic accident just a few months ago. "I applaud J.J. Abrams and his team's decision not to bring in a new Chekov for the movies," he said. "Anton was a really, really good human being. This young man was a spectacular person. We only spent a couple of hours together on set, but he was special."
And here was a cool revelation: "Demora, in Generations," Koenig said, "was supposed to be Chekov's daughter," which certainly would have changed the game so far as Beyond.
John Van Citters of CBS was next, leading a StarTrek.com panel that gave fans a look at current Trek products and a preview of products on the horizon. The highlight of the session was a tribute to Bjo and John Trimble, whom Van Citters affirmed as "the fans who saved Star Trek," pointing out quite accurately that no one in the Rio at that moment, from the fans to the actors to the vendors, would have been there without the Trimbles' efforts.
The Trimbles, who were slightly tricked by StarTrek.com into being backstage in order to be honored, walked out to thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Van Citters then presented the couple, who've been married 56 years, with a gorgeous painted depiction of them by artist JK Woodward.
And then came the legend, William Shatner. Full of energy and brio, he told lengthy anecdotes and cracked jokes, and he mused about science fiction, horses, music, Leonard Nimoy and more for well over an hour.
"Science fiction," he noted, "says 'This is a story I'm making up.'" To the host, Adam Malin, Shatner cracked, "When you said Leonard, I knew his last name." Of his late friends Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, Shatner said, "When I'm asked what I remember most about Leonard, it's the laughter." As for Kelley, "He was an easy target" for Shatner's pranks.
"Shot in the back is not the way you want your hero to go."
Shatner told the crowd that he's in a great place in his life. "A moment doesn't pass that I don't know how extraordinarily lucky I've been. At this moment in time I'm filled with love. I have so many blessings. I have the juices of a young man. I'm anxious to work. I'm a better actor, a better writer, a better horseman now than I've ever been. Whatever decline there has been... I'm totally in denial."
"Maybe at the 100th anniversary of Star Trek, I will come out and... tell the bike story."
A young boy asked Shatner how he would have reacted if the gremlin from his The Twilight Zone episode was... The Gorn. Shatner just burst into laughter, even pounding his feet. He never quite got around to answering the question, but his warm reaction to the boy was priceless. "I have answered Trek questions for 50 years, and I have NEVER been asked that."
Up next was Scott Bakula. "How do you follow William Shatner?" Bakula asked. "Go 100 years before him." He then graciously bounded from one side of the stage to the other, using the entirety of his time to interact with fans and answer their questions in detail. It may just have been us, but it seemed as if there were actually more Quantum Leap questions than Enterprise questions posed to him, but he rode the wave.
One question linked Archer to Bakula's Quantum Leap character, Sam Beckett. Bakula said, "There was a built in naïveté to Archer that was something you could say he shared with Sam Beckett."
"Archer was complicated," Bakula said. "He was a little messed up, and he was living his father's dream."
Oh, and we have to mention one other sweet Bakula panel moment. A boy in a dog costume, with a "bone" around his neck that read Porthos, asked the actor about working with Porthos.
Bakula explained that, "He was a she, and her name was Prada."
Next, M-A-C Cosmetics, one of the sponsors of Star Trek Las Vegas, hosted their second panel of the weekend. Today's subject: the art of body painting.
Fun fact revealed by Ashley Rudder of M-A-C... It takes a full three hours to body paint the Vina model/actress gracing the M-A-C station in the dealers' room.
Kate Mulgrew then took the stage, as commanding as ever. "I have my house in Ireland," she said. "And I'm writing my book. There's always an element of a fairytale in my life."
She also said, "I've been held up by the foundation of discipline all my life."
Mulgrew moments later invited a young girl onto the stage, after the girl's father told Mulgrew she was too scared to ask a question by herself. "Children are remarkably brave," Mulgrew asserted.
Next, Michael Westmore returned to STLV. In past appearances, he'd transformed Terry Farrell back into Dax and Robert Beltran into Chakotay once again. This time, he gave a master class in Borg cosplay.
Westmore spoke to the audience throughout his session. "I had to create a new alien nearly every episode," he said.
And speaking of Terry Farrell, she surprised her old friend Westmore and the entire audience by popping up on stage briefly.
Later in the evening, Creation Entertainment would present its 50th Anniversary Gala, featuring the Nevada Pops and conductor Richard McGee, as well a guest appearance by Trek composer Jay Chattaway.
But, for the moment, the day's main stage activities concluded with a wildly entertaining costume contest hosted by Jordan Hoffman, in full Andorian regalia, along with Terry Farrell, Bob Blackman and Trek authors Paula Block and Terry Erdmann.
From the hundreds of contestants, only 30 were selected for the finals on Saturday night and the winners were:
Rihanna Melton as the Crystalline Entity
Amy Wilder as the Borg Queen
Melissa and Andy as Farpoint Jellyfish
Michael Melton as a Tholian
Ryan Nagata and George as Silver Metal from First Contact
Kelly and Jennifer as "Catspaw" characters