You’ve seen it teased for months on the StarTrek.com home page: Leonard Nimoy will headline Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention in Chicago this weekend. The show will run from October 22-24, with Star Trek’s legendary Mr. Spock appearing on Friday. Other special guests will include Robert O’Reilly, Barbara March, Gwynyth Walsh, Armin Shimerman, Max Grodenchik, Vaughn Armstrong, Jacob Kogan, Jeffrey Combs, Marc Alaimo, Casey Biggs, J.G. Hertzler, Chase Masterson and Christopher Lloyd. StarTrek.com recently jumped on the phone with Creation Entertainment’s Gary Berman, who gave us a preview of what else fans can expect at the Chicago convention.
It’s a bit of a coup that Leonard Nimoy will be at this show, as he seems to be cutting back on his appearances. You’ve got to be thrilled to have him on board…
We are. He’s coming on Friday, which is a bit unusual, but that’s his schedule and of course we’re accommodating him, as we always have and always will. The fact that he’s coming is so special. He announced that he’s retiring from acting, but the conventions are hopefully something that he’ll continue to do. He’s signed up to do another one for us in San Francisco. So we know that particular door is not shut. It’s a joy to have him, and we’re thrilled that he’ll be doing his photography seminar for us again, as that’s an opportunity to see him, a real icon, in a very intimate setting and incredibly up close and personal.
To me, he signifies all that Star Trek has been for us as a company and for me as a fan. What I noticed at our convention in Las Vegas this summer was the way the Spock character is resonating again with a younger audience. I guess they’re seeing it online or on DVDs or in repeats. Back in the 70’s when Star Trek struck gold in syndication, it was a lot about Spock and how young women were really enamored with the character and what it stood for – and it’s happening again. A lot of the questions for Nimoy in Vegas were from young women. So Nimoy has a new audience. It’s really incredible.
One of the options for fans that sounds particularly cool is the Sunday “Blood” Brunch with the Klingons. So that’s Hertzler and O’Reilly – in costume as Martok and Gowron – joined by Christopher Lloyd and Jacob Kogan…
This is something we did in Las Vegas for the first time and now we’re going to be taking it around the country, and that’s the opportunity to see the Klingons in costume, in character. They appear on stage in character. You can get your picture taken with them. And we’ll have the food function you just mentioned with them. The Duras Sisters – Gwynyth and Barbara -- are at this convention. They’re not in costume this time, but we will be doing that with them next year as well.
How did a Vulcan sneak into that breakfast? Kogan is the boy who played young Spock in the recent movie…
I don’t know. I hope he survives that breakfast. I’m sure he will. Jacob was great in the movie and it’s nice to have him with us because we want to have representation from the new film. Of course, Leonard was in it, too. Jacob has been with us for a couple of times and he was very entertaining. I think it was two years ago at the Las Vegas convention that we had him meet Leonard. That was pretty cool. He’s quite a personable young man and I’m sure he’s going to have a great career.
You also have a couple of other interesting events with the actors. There’s the Star Trek Rat Pack, with Grodenchik, Shimerman, Combs, Biggs and Armstrong, and then also a performance of Shakespeare by Combs, Biggs and Alaimo. How do these kinds of side events come together?
Berman: It’s something we’ve been trying to do for, oh, about 10 years now, which is we have all these great performers that we know from Star Trek and these other science-fiction fields, and we give the fans the opportunity to see them doing something else. These people will do the question and answer sessions and a lot of them are great with the standup comedy that comes with that, but they’re also actors and they love to perform, and we like present them in that way. So we often will go to them and say, “We have this opportunity. You have these loyal fans. Let’s really do something theatrical and special for them.” A lot of the Deep Space Nine actors really stepped up to create these performances. And the fans, in this case, will get to see a play and a Rat Pack musical-comedy performance, and they’re fun.
We’re just about at the 45th anniversary of Star Trek. What hints can you give about things to come at future Creation Conventions?
Berman: For the 45th anniversary we have made the decision to take the Official Star Trek Convention on the road in a broader manner than we’ve done for a while. We’re hoping that the fans around the country will come out and join us. Mr. Shatner has signed up for a bunch of them. Leonard is going to do San Francisco, as I mentioned. And we’re working on some new things. We’re moving the Vegas show to the Rio and I was just there to check out the facilities, and it’s going to be great. So we’re always trying to top ourselves. We now have the facility to do it and we have to go about getting all the guests and activities and events lined up. This past year was sensational, I thought, so it’s hard to keep topping yourself. But we’re listening to what the fans want and actively seeking suggestions of who people want to see, and we’re going to go out and do it again.