It was April, 1999, and the last full day of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine filming. There would still be a couple of days worth of closeups, pick-up shots, sound bites, effects, etc, on "What You Leave Behind," but it would be the last time with the cast together. It had been made very clear to fans that the DS9 set was closed to visitors, no exceptions, no way, no how. John had to work, but I was meeting with Mike Okuda at Paramount, and took Trek fans Ginny Coady and Linda Furey as a reward for helping with the Weekend on the Promenade charity auction. The girls understood that they had to be content with a visit to the Star Trek art department to meet Mike and have lunch on the lot. For the 2nd time in many years of visiting sets, I broke the rules and took my new digital camera.
We arrived about 10 am and saw a lot of DS9 extras in 60s outfits wandering around outside the buildings. Some of those people looked vaguely familiar. Mike happily left off packing the art department to take us to the Promenade stage, where all the sets had been stripped of furnishings, leaving only the larger pieces for Paramount to dispose of. We wandered the sad hollow shell of the station, totally ignored by the electricians who were dismantling cables, leaving only the dim work lights. I whipped out my camera to take photos on the semi-dark sets. Then I left Ginny and Linda to talk with Mike and returned to find two very excited young ladies.
They’d met Alexander Siddig, who knew them and he asked why they weren’t inside watching the DS9 filming. They were waiting for me, so Sid could escort 3 thrilled females into the stage. The only other fan was Jenny Hamilton, prexy for J.G. Hertzler’s fan club. I approached First Assistant Director, B.C. Cameron, to tell her that we didn’t want to overstay our welcome. She said "You aren’t the problem; it’s all these others (waving her hand at the actors) - like herding cats! Just stay out of my way and no one will care." So Ginny and Linda settled in to enjoy themselves enormously.
Rick Berman seemed distracted—quelle surprise!—but very affable to everyone. When he stopped by to say hello, I told him about Ginny being a Make-A-Wish person, though her ‘wish’ was the funds to get to Weekend on the Promenade and Grand Slam, not to Paramount so this was an extra bonus. He said to stay as long as we wished. We were greeted by Aron, Max, Chase, Bob O’Reilly, Eric Stillwell, and Avery’s double, John Bennett, who already had another job on the lot.
Everyone saw to Ginny’s comfort, making sure her wheelchair was out of the way, but with a view clear of the action. Rene Auberjonois offered Ginny his personal director’s chair, and saw to it that as the cameras were moved around, someone moved the chair to give Ginny the best view. She was thrilled, and never stopped smiling. The director was often right in front of us and I expected him to ask who the heck we were. But it never happened - everyone was wonderful.
The scene being filmed was Vic’s Lounge, with James Darren and band doing “What You Leave Behind” over and over, so the camera could get shots of all the audience, which seemed to be everyone who ever had anything to do with DS9, including production staff. Several actors usually in alien makeup were finally humans in Vic’s: Max, Aron, J.G. As producer Rick Berman reported, “…A constant stream of well-wishers kept strolling onto the soundstage … everyone was taking pictures and signing each other's script covers. It was like the last day of high school.”
A slim woman in tight-waisted green lace dress, with perky short red hair and lots of makeup turned out to be production assistant Lolita Fatjo! Ira Steven Behr was a really ‘cool cat’ in shades, and cigarette, surrounded by beautiful women (one of whom was Mrs. Behr). Andy Robinson, Robert O’Reilly and Chase watched this final DS9 day with watery smiles. Chase thrust a call sheet at me to get everyone to sign while she said goodbyes. I’d never approached actors on a working stage for an autograph. But most were very friendly.
Darren repeated the song so often it was going a bit stale. Then a tall, outrageously blonde creature in a gold-and-electric blue sequin gown with a white T-shirt showing in the low-cut back, vamped across Vic’s stage. Darren turned, saw this ‘female’ and sang to ‘her.’ When ‘she’ turned away from the audience, the outfit was a fashion disaster, of the gown! After much hilarity, the ‘lady’ disappeared. Later, producer Steve Oster, disclaimed any knowledge of a tall blonde, but noted that she must have been devastatingly gorgeous.
Armin introduced James Darren and told him about the Save ST campaign that we Trimbles coordinated so they all could have jobs. I was so touched! Everyone, including actors, had a camera. I asked Larry Nemeck to take photos for me, since he works there. Then I got brave and took photos on my own. No one said a thing; it was that kind of unusual day. (Don’t try this at a studio at any other time!)
I rounded up my guests for lunch at the studio cafeteria, but people assured us we’d be welcome at the special buffet for DS9. So we ate lunch with actors, crew and production staff. I made Ginny and Linda go sit with strangers so they could talk to someone new. Ira Steven Behr, Co-Executive Producer, gave a short and nearly tearful speech about the show, "… we had a lot of creative freedom to do whatever we wanted and DS9 was the better for it... If there's a feature, obviously, I would love to write it. Was there something else I would rather have been doing with my time? Not that I can really think of. Deep Space Nine was a good gig."
Baseball caps from Paramount Merchandising, thanks Gary Holland, were quickly snaffled up. Ginny and Linda got one each. Chase had been in and out of the set, hugging and kissing, crying a bit, collecting autographs on anything she could pick up, to use for charity auctions. She checked to see that I was getting autographs on that call sheet (why didn’t we do several of them?). Ginny and Linda collected autographs on their caps.
It’s easy to lose track of time inside a dark stage. We didn’t have dinner, but the snack food area was next to the peak where Odo disappears into the pool of his people. I drank lattes and nibbled power bars (meal of champions!), but Ginny and Linda were too excited to each much. We moved where we could watch Sisko and Kassidy dance. The shot was done, then again.
Suddenly, B.C. Cameron was saying, "It’s time to say goodnight and goodbye to Avery Brooks," "Goodnight and goodbye to Nana Visitor," and so on through the entire cast. And it’s over. Later, Rick Berman would write an article about that last day, ending with “I hope that you, the viewers, have enjoyed watching the episodes half as much as we enjoyed bringing them to you. Thank you for your long support and patronage of our show -- without you there would've been no DS9. Peldor Joi.”
Rene Aubernjonois tore his Odo mask off with a big sigh, saying “I’m glad to get the make-up off, [but] I would never say never to playing Odo again..." We got one more tearful hug from Chase, and walked out into the clear night at 9:30 pm. We drove home, amazed that we’d had such an unbelievable chance to experience this special day and share it with our favorite DS9 people.
George “Stompy” Hollo said it best: “DS9 was about Family, about people from different backgrounds thrown together in a clunky old space station, learning to work and live with each other. It doesn't matter if we are Bajoran, Cardassian, or a slug, we are all connected, we are all Family. DS9 finished? It doesn't really matter, we have its legacy - all we have to do is use it.”
Some of this material is rewritten from an article I wrote for D’Abo, The Official Chase Masterson Fan Club Newsletter #3 - 1999. Though I was editor at that time, I did not keep file copies, so many thanks to George “Stompy” Hollo, who found this issue for me, and invites everyone to join Chase and her fans at chaseclub.com.