Creation Entertainment's Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas went into hyperdrive on Saturday with more than 15 hours of pretty much non-stop, wall to wall Trek fun. The focus was on costumes and cosplay, and Enterprise and Voyager got their turn in the spotlight.
The day started in the DeForest Kelley Theatre, with Jordan Hoffman leading the latest StarTrek.com One Trek Mind Live session. The topic of debate? Best post-Trek roles. The conversation got playfully heated. Really, which was Shatner's best post-Trek part? Is the Priceline Negotiator even a role? At the end, a breathless Hoffman told the crowd, "I'm absolutely exhausted, and I hope you are too." And here are the winners...
Up next in the same room, StarTrek.com presented a panel called Star Trek to the Stars: How Star Trek Influences Science Fact. Moderated by Mike Okuda, the panel included several JPL personnel, among them Bobak Ferdowsi, Rob Zimmerman and Lyle Tavernier, as well as Tracy Drain of Flight System Engineering Group.
Drain noted that, "The intangible aspect of creativity is remarkable. It's what we must find within ourselves to make sci-fi real. It's inspired us to think outside the box." Zimmerman urged an aspiring young scientist to join a science club or robotics team or some other group to complement her learning at school. "I had a good education, but the most important thing is working on a team," he said. "I wouldn't have gotten my job at JPL without it."
Over in the Roddenberry Theatre, Peter Weller took the stage to a rousing ovation. He talked about Buckaroo Banzai, RoboCop and of course Enterprise and Star Trek Into Darkness.
"Everything that Marcus said was true," he argued in defense of his STID character. "So why is Marcus the bad guy? He is a patriot. Enterprise has to go... Collateral damage." And Weller agreed with the decision to not have Khan and Marcus come face to face, in part because it mirrored Khan-Kirk in The Wrath of Khan and "They wanted us to talk about each other as abstracts."
A few moments later, Brannon Braga took the stage. Manny Coto was scheduled to join him but got stuck in traffic. He told numerous intriguing stories. Michael Piller, for example, wanted him to work on DS9, but Braga chose to stay with TNG. "That was the right decision," he said. "Ron Moore and I wrote the last episode of TNG, and I think it was our finest work."
Adding Seven of Nine to Voyager upped the stakes for Janeway. "Janeway was missing her Spock, her Data," he noted. "Seven of Nine was the wild child. I always saw her as a tragic character." Of the much-maligned Enterprise finale, Braga said, "The final episode was an idiotic move on my part."
Over in the photo op room, John Billingsley stood ready to pose for Enterprise cast shots with Scott Bakula, Anthony Montgomery, Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating, only the other guys were busy chatting. "I'm here!" Billingsley shouted, playing to the waiting fans. "I'm ready! I'm ready!! I'm ready!!!" Finally the other guys joined him and the crowd acknowledged Billingsley's effort with smiles, applause and laughter.
Later, out on the main stage, all the Enterprise guys were joined by guest stars Steven Culp and Tucker Smallwood, plus moderator Roger Lay Jr. for a panel called Creation Close-Up Enterprise: The Xindi Saga.
"I actually wasn't in the Xindi episodes," Billingsley said. "So I'm going to read The New Yorker now." Asked how the group prepared to be first in the Trek timeline, Montgomery pointed out to the audience that, "We didn't have to know as much as you guys do. And we will never know as much as you guys do."
Bakula addressed the impact of 9-11 on Enterprise. "9-11 changed our world, he said. "It changed our show. It changed the direction of the show and led to the Xindi arc. The producers asked me about (doing) it and I said , 'Yeah, let's do it. We need to do it" And as to that controversial finale, Bakula was diplomatic. "Ending a show is not easy," he argued. "There's no happy way to do it. We were fortunate to have a season four. The idea (of the series) was we were going to help create the Federation. That WAS our journey. Do I regret (the finale?). You can't please everybody."
The cosplay theme, meanwhile, continued to play out over the course of the day with hundreds of fans in costume.
On stage, makeup artist John Paladin transformed Max Grodenchik and Aron Eisenberg into Rom and Nog. Robert Blackman made his first ever Vegas convention appearance to discuss his many years as Trek's Emmy Award-winning costume designer.
Roger Lay led a panel featuring Doug Drexler and veteran special effects coordinator and supervisor Ronald B. Moore, who shared many anecdotes about their respective roles in bringing countless hours of Star Trek to life across the various series and features they worked on over the years.
The next cosplay-related session was arguably a Top-3 highlight of the weekend. Dax 539 reunited makeup master Mike Westmore with Terry Farrell.
Westmore had personally applied Farrell's Dax makeup 538 times during her years on DS9 and today he did it for the 539th time. Of the spots, Westmore noted, "They worked really well and didn't distract from her beauty."
By the time he finished, Farrell felt nostalgic, asking "Can we do a scene?" Farrell then left the stage for a few moments, leaving Westmore to chat with the crowd. One surprising revelation: the Jem'Hadar were a combination of a rhinoceros and a dinosaur. Farrell then returned, escorted by Robert Blackman and wearing her Dax wedding dress, all 35 pounds of leather. It still fit. And the crowd went nuts.
A few moments later fans were treated to a Voyager reunion with Kate Mulgrew, Ethan Phillips and Tim Russ. Midway through it, Garrett Wang crashed the party and stayed to join the conversation with his old cast mates.
Of the passage of time, Phillips cracked, "I'm so old I lost my virginity to a Druid." Mulgrew talked about Orange Is the New Black and her Emmy nomination. "I know it's far afield from Voyager, but I think Kathryn Janeway would like Red Reznikov," she said. "And maybe she'd bring her some space chicken." Speaking of Emmys, Russ happily acknowledged that he'd just won a regional Emmy for directing spots for the FBI. Yes, the FBI. As the session ended, Mulgrew brought her son Alec up to the stage while Russ brought his daughter up, too.
On the heels of the Voyager group, Simon Pegg took the stage, flying solo. Of stepping into such iconic shoes as James Doohan's and Scotty's he said, "All of us in the cast didn't want to do imitations. We wanted to play the characters and not play them playing them."
His idea for casting the next film: "Who thinks Nick Frost should play Mudd, Harry Muddd?" The fans cheered. Of Keenser he asserted "I want a Keenser spin-off movie."
And the day's -- not the night's - activities concluded with a massive costume contest guest judged by, among others, Doug Drexler, Michael Westmore and Robert Blackman. The plan was to award $250 for 3rd prize, $500 for 2nd prize and $1000 to the winner. There were 30-plus finalists who walked out on stage to varying degrees of ovations. There was a terrific Guinan, Apollo, Ilia, Dr. Chaotica and Arachnia, plus a Borg Queen and Drone, Neelix and Kes, and a Balok. Everyone loved Balok, which started as a giant head with a body that opened to reveal a smaller, humanoid Balok (with the costume's creator nailing Clint Howard's look and voice too.) The judges deliberated and the result was a tie for first place. Creation co-CEO Adam Malin announced that both winners would receive $1000 and the the runner-up would receive $500.
Second place went to Debbie Wantland and Alan Berkoski, two friends who created the elaborate and eye-catching Arachnia and Chaotica costumes. And first place was shared by Jeff Gauntt for his Balok creation and King and Lori Oberlin for their uber-detailed Borg Queen and Drone. StarTrek.com spoke to the winners. Gauntt was humbled to the point of tears. "Just to be on this stage with all these people and be seen by all the fans here was an honor," he said. "To be judged by this level of judges was an even greater honor. I'm a creative person. I think of myself as an artist. I only bought a sewing machine a year ago off Craigslist. So this is crazy." Meanwhile, the Oberlins celebrated with family and friends, and were quick to explain their costumes were collaborative efforts. King handled the electronics (which went kablooey a few hours before the contest and had to be hastily fixed), while Michael Rough designed the prosthetics and Darrell Phillips did the makeup. "It feels totally awesome to win," Lori said. King revealed that it took "several months and more than 200 man hours" to create the costumes, which are heavy and hot and take a long time to get out of. As King half-joked, "We're having a bet on who lost the most weight."
And there was more. Nighttime activities included a Star Trek Online "Meet the Devs" event, a Star Trek dessert and cocktail party, and a special concert by the Nevada Pops Orchestra led by conductor Richard McGee, with Ron Jones serving as guest conductor.