Creation Entertainment's Official Star Trek Convention kicked off Thursday morning at the Rio Suites Hotel in Las Vegas, with more than 100 guests on the schedule for the weekend, as well as parties, concerts, photo ops, autograph sessions, costume contests, auctions and much, much more. Creation co-founder and co-CEO Adam Malin greeted the crowd. "For those here for the first time, welcome to the community," he said. "I think conventions are the original social network." It was a sentiment that rang true for many veteran attendees.
Among the morning highlights, David Gerrold shared memorable convention tales in the main room, The Roddenberry Theatre, while in the DeForest Kelley Theatre, Jordan Hoffman led the first Star Trek.com One Trek Mind Live panel of the weekend. The goal was to determine Trek's Best Catchphrases. After much debate, the fans finalized the top 10 with Live long and prosper taking the top spot.
The afternoon kicked off with Nichelle Nichols taking the stage in the Roddenberry Theatre. She looked beautiful in an turquoise dress accentuated by huge pieces of turquoise jewelry.
Asked by Malin how she kept her skin so young looking, Nichols said, "Ivory soap and water." She sang for a few moments, recounted her work recruiting women and minorities for NASA's space shuttle program and smiled when it was mentioned to her that Trek's 50th anniversary is just two years away. "I think that's great because I will be 48," she said to great laughter from the crowd. "I can't believe it's 50 years of anything... It's something that Gene Roddenberry gave as a gift to the world, Star Trek."
Over in The Kelley Theatre, StarTrek.com presented a panel called Women of Trek Fandom. Mary Czerwinski and her crew of "geek girls" discussed every facet of women and Trek.
Back in the Roddenberry Theatre, Creation brought out the big guns. First, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner and Michael Dorn entertained the crowd for an hour, teasing each other and having fun answering fan questions.
Spiner did his patented Patrick Stewart imitation, eliciting huge laughs from the crowd. One fan asked the guys if they knew that former TNG co-star Denise Crosby is now BBQ-ing humans on The Walking Dead, prompting Spiner to quip, "I wonder if you know she always has." Meanwhile, Spiner noticed a long line off to the side of the stage. After a moment, he, Dorn and Burton realized it was Nichols' autograph line. They welcomed Nichols to the stage, with each guy kissing and then hugging Nichols... several times.
Dorn shook his head and joked, "She just likes to kiss the boys." Several fans mentioned Burton's recent and super-successful Kickstarter campaign on behalf of Reading Rainbow. "105,000 people donated $6.4 million " he proudly told the audience. "It's going to do a lot of good for a lot of kids going forward."
Next on the big stage was Karl Urban, a Creation veteran dating back to his days on Xena: Warrior Princess. He's a crowd pleaser and opened by saying, "I'm here to answer any question... almost any question."
He talked about Lord of the Rings, Almost Human and Trek. He revealed that he knows a little bit about the development of the next Trek feature. "I'm super-thrilled, super-excited about the direction it's going in," he said, and stated his hope to see more McCoy/Spock arguments and the next phase of the Kirk/Spock/McCoy triumvirate in film three.
Throughout the day, in other rooms spread out across the Rio's convention space, fans met with the stars in special meet and greets, did photo ops, and got photos signed. Fans, many in elaborate costumes, posed for photos with each other and swapped stories about how they made their costumes.
Many Trek guest stars and most of the TNG signed autographs in the main room, Juan Ortiz signed his TOS Art Print book, while Robb Pearlman signed copies of his witty book Fun with Kirk and Spock. Over in the Kelley Theatre, Creation co-founder and co-CEO Gary Berman hosted the weekend's first no-minimum-bid auction. A 8x10 photo of Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto fetched $375, while a Mr. Spock mint condition model kit went for $275.
And the stars kept coming. On the main stage, David Warner discussed his long career and his several Trek appearances.
He'd worked years earlier with Patrick Stewart on a Shakespeare production and saw "something special" in his young co-star even then. Years later someone fell ill when it came time to shoot "Chain of Command" and he got the call to come in."Somebody had to do it, so I did it," he recounted. "I only had three days to prepare. But it was a thrill to work with Patrick again." Back in the Kelley Theatre, the focus was on Trek guest stars: first Eric Menyuk, Duncan Regehr and Carel Struycken, then Chase Masterson and then TOS guests Bobby Clark ( the Gorn), Lawrence Montaigne (Stonn), Michael Forest (Apollo) and Felix Silla (a Talosian).
Next, in the Roddenberry Theatre, the impossible happened. Harlan Ellison returned to the world of Trek conventions. We can't reprint much... well, most of what he said as he was his legendary cantankerous, profane, über-honest self.
Addressing his reputation, he said, "If it's a bad story about me, it's probably true." Discussing his version of "The City on the Edge of Forever," he explained, "The idea was a simple love story. Kirk was willing to sacrifice everything -- the ship, the universe, everything -- for the love of this woman." Of course, Ellison's session ran long, prompting Marina Sirtis to come out on stage, mock-tapping on a watch. In other words, it was time for the next session, featuring the women of TNG: Sirtis, Gates McFadden and Denise Crosby.
The ladies laughed and told stories about the TNG boys, their roles, etc., and then, about halfway through the allotted time, DS9's Terry Farrell surprised everyone by joining the trio.
That led to lots of laughs and one particularly amusing photo...
Closing the day was Garrett Wang. He, as always, filled the room with his tremendous energy, drew laughs with his imitations and exited to a great round of applause.
And though the day was over, the night was just getting started. There was a Borg Bingo Party, a dinner/dessert party in the Rio's famed VooDoo Lounge, featuring entertainment by the Enterprise Blues Band (Vaughn Armstrong, Casey Biggs and Steve Rankin), and also a karaoke party.
Be sure to follow the official Twitter page for all of the action throughout the weekend and visit StarTrek.com each day for additional photos and recaps.