Trekland, Supplemental #9: Con Season Eve reflections: a big new STARTREK.COM people database!
By Larry Nemecek
In which the coming of con season reminds me how I spent my winter vacation — right here at StarTrek.com!—and you and non-fans alike get to benefit.
Now, you guys know that intro is not referring to an entry on the sports pages, nor anything that has to do with frauds or scammers. By “con season” we mean the fannish shortening of “convention,” of course, as WonderCon in Anaheim kicks off this weekend, and I prepare to join thousands there… before our massive meet-ups all start kicking in somewhere most every week, in earnest—across the country and around the Trek-lovin’, sci-fi-followin’ globe.
Yep, my mind can’t help but go there, contemplating another year of potential con surprises and memories—and musing on what has changed, what hasn’t and why, and who we might have lost. For me, in taking the long view of Trek as I usually do, the coming of con season is much akin to the end-of-year holidays. You know, that final few weeks when the world slows down, the calendar year changes, and — as with Janus, the two-faced god and namesake to “January”— we often can’t help but look toward both the past and the future.
As the Prophets might say, it’s a never-ending obsession we have with linear time and context, of course. And right now on the eve of “con season,” “original Kirk” William Shatner himself is touring his one-man show while the truly original U.S.S. Enterprise—the naval CVN-65 variety—is about to set sail for her final mission… even as the newly reassembled crew of the alternate NCC-1701 are well along in their shoot for a May 2013 release. These are all topics that will join a litany of others as subspace chatter as we do indeed trip through the 2012 convention calendar, climaxing for us especially at Vegas Trek and then playing out in the fall.
For now, in the mood brought on in the eve of this “new year,” I especially wanted to share a unique take on that perspective—and one that rarely gets noted.
In fact, why not just ask it this way:
Notice anything new about the database here at StarTrek.com?
I’m very proud—and have been cleared to say it aloud—to point you over to our Characters and especially the Cast databases, now home to a lot of work which took up a big chunk of my time through the holidays and well into the new year. If you haven’t lately, take a look now: You may be surprised.
What we wound up with was just about QUADRUPLE or more the entries for a lot of the notable actors who have appeared across all Star Trek, both series and movies. That goes for famous non-actor celebs on the order of Paul “Big Show” Wight and James Worthy … cameos from the likes of Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane or The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin … guest actors who were young’uns back in the day but are now much more well known as adults, like Ashley Judd and Thomas Dekker ... and even working actors who guest-starred and then hit the big-time with a breakout role later on, like Scrubs’ Ken Jenkins or Lost’s Terry O'Quinn.
We also paid a lot of attention to the most-recurring actors who turned up so much across the series, especially in alien guise—as well as a lot of your guest-star and recurring favorites from Trekland who make regular appearances at many of the conventions and signing shows.
All of these notable faces were very much deserving—as well as our regulars, who were overdue for some mass-scale updating on their bios, as well. We even dropped in a few of the new “family members” from the 2013 movie, albeit without their character names—yet.
Now, we could only bite off so much in such a major upgrade—but it is major, as you notice if you scroll the Cast listings for any series or feature film. These are not exhaustive bios, of course—but we wrote them in such a way that gives you a lot of context. You know what else they are famous for, as well as all their Trek portrayals… but without bogging down in a ton of too much detail. Obviously, you can get all that—both their full career listings and other life data—at other sites out there dedicated to it. But for fans—as well as the likes of media reporters and other researchers—you can now get an idea of the rich heritage of the full lineup of stars that have graced the heavens right here, and at a moment’s glancing scroll.
What’s more, we began a big cross-linking of actors right to their roles in the Character section, and vice-versa. We also dug out a wide variety of photos for all this: some are of actors from earlier roles, but with pics that show how they appear now, while other entries use their headshots from back in the day.
And, as you frequent site-dwellers already have noticed, that’s also had the bonus effect of adding all these new Trek names, bios and photos to the various quizzes and games like “Matter Stream Mixup” that pop up onsite.
Personally, I was actually surprised at the effect that revisiting all those performers’ lives had on me, with their characters and the incredible range of talent that has collectively graced Star Trek over the years. Updating credits, other life points and especially the photos proved to be refreshing—even taking me back to that meme I explored back in Trekland Supplemental #3: that everything old truly IS new again. (What’s more, I wrote the vast majority of the site’s original database, and it hit me with this latest “coming home” project that it’s been 15 years since startrek.com first launched on the Paramount studio lot as “Star Trek Continuum.”)
So, armchair fans, what do YOU think of the new scenery as you take a stroll through all the news faces of performers here at StarTrek.com?
Or, for the con-goers: here’s MY con season. Are you ready for yours?
Larry Nemecek, author of The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, Star Trek Magazine columnist and longtime editor of Star Trek Communicator, is currently producing The Con of Wrath, a documentary about the most “glorious failure” convention ever. He will also host the “Hollywood to Vegas: Trek Film Sites” tour for Geek Nation Tours in August. Larry shares his years as Star Trek author, historian, consultant and insider at conventions and on larrynemecek.com. His posts and original video chats with all your favorites are at Treklandblog.com, plus @larrynemecek on Twitter and Larry Nemecek’s Trekland on Facebook.