Creation Entertainment is going country. Yeah, that’s a lie, or at least an exaggeration, but the truth is that Creation will head down south, to Nashville, Tennessee, for an Official Star Trek Convention to be held Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10, at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. The star-studded guest list includes Avery Brooks, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Marina Sirtis, Chase Masterson and John de Lancie. Also on the schedule are panels with Trek historians John Tenuto and Richard Arnold, Creation’s popular costume parade and music video contest, photo and autograph opportunities, and an appearance by singer-songwriter Sandra Piller, the widow of Trek writer-producer Michael Piller. StarTrek.com recently caught up with Creation Entertainment co-CEO Gary Berman, who provided a more detailed and personal glimpse of what fans can expect to experience at the Nashville convention.
How excited are you to get to Nashville?
Berman: The resort nature of the hotel, the layout, restaurants, bars and decorations are fantastic. That and the Southern hospitality of the hotel staff and the fans themselves are part of what makes this particular event so great. Along with the wonderful lineup of celebrities, we tried to put together interesting and entertaining presentations focusing on Star Trek history.
It sounds to us like you guys did a great job of replacing Patrick Stewart – who had to bow out after landing a film role -- as you've got Avery Brooks, John de Lancie and Marina Sirtis in his place. How did you pull off snagging those three on such short notice?
Berman: While no one can replace Sir Patrick, we didn't want to disappoint our attendees. So we knew we had to have a "Captain" aboard. As Mr. Shatner had been there last time, we were lucky that Avery was available and delighted that he accepted the invitation. John and Marina are definitely two of the most entertaining "stand-up" performers at conventions and we know the fans in the area -- many of whom have not seen either -- will really enjoy meeting them. Again, it was pure luck that either of them, both very busy, was available on short notice.
Tell us about some of the special presentations and appearances, particularly John Tenuto and also Sandra Piller.
Berman: John has done presentations for us at other events we've done and the audience really appreciates his work. His access to rare photos and background of various Trek topics really offers fans a uniquely rare chance to learn about behind-the-scenes stuff. When we do Star Trek events in various cities we like to bring along, beyond the celebrities, the program elements that audiences have enjoyed elsewhere.
That's why we're bringing John and Richard Arnold -- who will discuss TNG's 25th anniversary, as he was there during the launch phase in Roddenberry's offices – and, of course, Morgan Gendel, who wrote the fantastic episode "The Inner Light." We also have a special presentation on space flight and NASA.
Sandra Piller is great friends with the person who represents many Star Trek stars for convention appearances. We did have Michael as a guest at one of our conventions and we were honored that he appeared in what I think was his only Star Trek convention. Everyone who worked for Michael adored him and he was a very important part of the tremendous longevity the TV franchise had and continues to have. Without him and the other creative talents that wrote and produced Star Trek on TV, none of us would be getting together at these conventions to celebrate, so we're indebted to him for that.
Creation is billing this show as the last at this hotel. Just to clarify, is this going to be the last one in Nashville or at this specific hotel and, either way, why will it be the last?
Berman: Actually, there has been some good news on this front since that was written. The hotel is so busy, and (since) they like to book huge convention business, we didn't think we could get back in. However, this convention is going very well in terms of hotel room sales, which is what the venue is most interested in, and the opportunity to return still exists depending on the final outcome. We love it there and hope to be able to come back, though we're not sure at this point.
Click HERE to see Creation's Nashville convention schedule and to purchase tickets. And keep an eye on StarTrek.com for photographs and recaps of the Creation Entertainment Official Star Trek Convention in Nashville.