Friday, March 30, 2001
Guests included George Takei (Sulu), James Doohan (Scotty), Michael Dorn (Worf), and Leonard Nimoy.
- Takei announced that the Excelsior Project, an effort to get the next Trek series to feature Sulu in command of the ship by the same name, has been unsuccessful. (No surprise to anyone who read the “Birth of the Federation” info plastered all over the net.) He also talked for a while about his time in an internment camp as a child during World War II. Amazingly, after having such a horrifying experience, he spoke quite eloquently about his love of America and his belief in the countries ability to allow its citizens to overcome all kinds of obstacles to become whatever they want to be. With the exception of one culturally insensitive comment about rap music, he was a class act.
- Unfortunately, Jimmy Doohan, while looking well physically for his age, seemed quite tired and disoriented. It was a little sad. The high point, though, was his repeating his classic line from Star Trek 4, “Admiral, there be whales here.”
- Michael Dorn is charming and hysterical! Interestingly, he also debunked the rumor that Captain Picard would be killed in Star Trek X. Like Jimmy, Michael agreed to a fan request that he repeat one of Worf’s memorable lines, “I am NOT a Merry Man!”
- Leonard Nimoy spent the beginning of his comments affectionately making fun of William Shatner (his weight, his Priceline.com commercials, etc.). He was incredibly gracious to fans who were clearly in awe of this living legend. Among his more interesting comments: his personal life is definitely his priority (he commented that he is just enjoying his life, and is not as interested in packing every moment full of work in the same way Shatner seems to). He also said that he has no plans to/interest in directing more feature films. He is working on a photography project. Fans asking about Nimoy’s “Alien Voices” project were told that all future projects are at the discretion of the publisher, Simon and Schuster, and that there are no plans for subsequent pieces at this point.
- Spock vs. Q: The Sequel premiered at Grand Slam in an evening live performance by Leonard Nimoy and John de Lancie. After performing the original piece as a first act, the Star Trek veterans shared their newest verbal joust between Trek’s most famous Vulcan and the Continuum’s most naughty superbeing. In this installment, a handshake causes the two to switch places (think TOS’s Turnabout Intruder) with Spock trapped in the “body” of Q, and vice versa. It was a lot of fun watching the men take on the personality and mannerisms of the other.
Saturday, March 31, 2001
Guests included Nichele Nichols (Uhura), Walter Koening (Chekov), William Shatner (Kirk), Ricardo Montalban (Kahn), John de Lanice (Q), Marina Sirtis (Troy), and James Darren (Vic Fontaine)
- Nichele Nichols and Walter Koening appeared together to start the day. Nichele was happy to have good professional news (which Walter was kind enough to point out): a decent role as Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s mother in an upcoming feature film. It was obvious that her work on this project was energizing her. Walter didn’t have much to say, though he mentioned that he is not involved in the Babylon 5 project that is in development.
- William Shatner was funny and pretty self-effacing. He joked that all of his friends want to kill him for talking them into buying stock in Priceline.com. He also told a story about being invited along on a boarder patrol party while filming a movie, and the reaction of the captured men to being taken in my Captain Kirk. He also was very gracious when asked to introduce Ricardo Montalban, saying that, “he’s got a sore back, but he’s fine.” (Referring, of course, to the crippling injury that left Montalban in constant pain and with partial paralysis.) A classy moment from a man who’s not known for them.
- Class, of course, if the perfect way to describe Ricardo Montalban. He and Shatner both told the story of their never meeting during the filming of The Wrath of Kahn. Apparently, a rather timid script girl read each man’s emotionally-charged dialogue to the other from off camera, which they both found funny. He also told the story of calling the president of Frito Lay to complain about the offensive sterotype of the “Frito Bandito.” The man not only took his call, he promised that the campaign would stop within ten days. Very cool. Sadly, when asked if he’s working on any new projects, Montalban said he doesn’t think he’s likely to get much work anymore. He described the “three strikes” against him: his age, his Mexican heritage, and his physical disability. [ALSO: This man sat and signed autographs for hours after his on-stage appearance, despite his chronic pain. A great guy.]
- John de Lancie‘s greatest skill as a convention guest was in blowing off fans with insipid questions in a way that was amusing but not insulting. He’s an incredibly funny man, who also took the opportunity to introduce his two “Q2” sons. Marina Sirtis also has the convention speech down to an artform. Among her observations: she likes kissing a clean-shaven Riker, and she made them let her wear her five-inch heels while shooting the mountain climbing portions of Star Trek: Insurrection. As she was about to leave the stage, she asked if the James Darren about to take the stage had once directed her. It was, of course, the same man, who came out to give her a big kiss. He then told some wonderful stories about his time on DS9, including a very moving story about trying to get through the filming of the “The Way You Look Tonight” number from the show’s finale.
- The All-Star Cabaret followed the convention that evening. James Darren and his “holographic band” (pre-recorded music) opened the show after being introduced by host and performer Bob Picardo. Darren was followed by Scarlett Pommers (VOY’s Naomi Wildman), who seems to be quite a fan of Brittany Spears. (Her costume and one of her numbers were very much in that style, and–since I’m not her mother–I won’t comment on whether her outfit and moves were really appropriate for a pre-teen girl….) Next up was Robert Duncan McNeill (who asked to be introduced as “Backstreet Boy,” then did a send up of their signature dance–apologizing to his daughter for embarrassing her. Robbie has a nice voice–a belting tenor–and he did three songs, ending with a full-blown air guitar rendition of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard.” Chase Masterson was next, followed by an amazing performance by Tim Russ. This man is the real thing, and I ended up buying his CD after hearing him perform. Closing the night was MC Robert Picardo, whose “What’s My Name,” and “What’s New, Pussycat?” (sung to life-sized cutouts of Seven of Nine, Captain Janeway and B’Elanna!) were full of Voyager in-jokes. (His CD, “Basically Bob,” is full of these gems. Hysterical.
Sunday, April 1, 2001
For some of us, the day started with the ultimate fan event, a cruise with the Voyager cast sponsored by Robert Duncan McNeill and Robert Picardo’s fan clubs. A separate report on that event can be found here. Since I was cruising, I missed some of the early con appearances, including Majel Barrett Roddenberry and Scarlett Pommers. I’m sure another of the 5,000 people in attendance will document their appearances. For me, however, it was an ALL VOYAGER DAY! (Finally!)
- Garrett Wang was the first of the principal cast to appear on Sunday. When he joked that he was about to enter the Guiness Book of World Records as the oldest known ensign, a fan yelled out that he deserved as much after turning down Seven of Nine. Garrett laughed and said that people still come up to him in the grocery store and say, “Man, what were you thinking?!”
- He also said that he’s joked with Bob Picardo that their next jobs will be at Panda Express, one driving and one dispatching. After doing an exaggerated Chinese accent, he said–of all the accents he’s learned–this was one he never did as a kid, that growing up as one of the only Asian kids in Memphis, TN, others did that accent for him…. He then mentioned a project he’d like to do about a squadron of Japaneese-American pilots who fought for the US in World War II (while their own families were being rounded up and placed in internment camps). I was really surprised at how funny, nice, and engaging I found Garrett. Not what I expected.
- Kate Mulgrew was next. She mentioned that, despite Janeway’s tough reputation, she (Mulgrew) is officially the “biggest wimp in the Delta Quadrant,” since she’d discovered she can’t stop crying while shooting her finale scenes. She also said to her young male fans, “I’m sure when you first saw a woman of your mother’s age in the captain’s chair you all went pale,” but said she felt it was important that boys see a positive, authoritative woman they can respect and admire.
- She was very reassuring to fans concerned about the Voyager finale, calling the script, “beautifully written,” and guaranteeing that the fans would be happy with the result. (Let’s hope.) She ended her appearance by auctioning off her original “Caretaker” shooting script for an amazing $10,000 (another script, “Resolutions,” went for $5,500), with all proceeds going to Alzheimer’s research.
- The bulk of the remaining Voyager cast appeared together following Kate. Tim Russ, Ethan Phillips, Roxann Dawson, Robert Duncan McNeill, and Bob Picardo took directors chairs and turns telling stories and answering questions. Among those asked was a question about whether B’Elanna will give birth by the finale. Roxann refused to answer, so Robbie quipped, “Actually, Tom gives birth and the baby looks like the Doctor,” to which Picardo answered, “All babies look like the Doctor!” He then added, “Seriously, would you make a major character pregnant then not have her deliver…?”
- There were compliments from both fans and the stars about the directing talents of Roxann Dawson and Robbie McNeill. (Incidentally, Robbie’s short film, 9mm of Love, will appear on the SciFi Channel’s “Exposures” series on either April 22 or 29.) Roxann spent a fair amount of time kidding Robbie for cutting her one big sickbay scene out of the episode “Someone to Watch Over Me,” implying that she won’t get any residuals since she was cut out of the episode. Bob Picardo suggested that Robbie take her out to dinner every time the show airs as payment for cutting her out. (Of course, fans will know that B’Elanna’s threats to Seven of Nine actually open the show, so her residual payments should still arrive!)
- When asked about their religions vs. their characters, Ethan was eloquent about Neelix’s dilemma at the end of “Mortal Coil”, when his faith is shattered, yet he decides to go on with his life despite his new questions about Talaxian afterlife. On a less serious note, Robbie described Tom’s religion as “the spiritual path of fast cars and cold beer,” adding “I think he’s a humanist. He’s learned to be good, learned morality through the people he’s been involved with.”
- Roxann spoke a bit about her first makeup tests as B’Elanna (after which she burst into tears at the sight of herself). The character originally had more hair, heavier forehead ridges, and the attractive Klingon teeth. Roxann sabotaged that idea by pretending she couldn’t speak clearly while wearing the teeth. They were forced to make B’Elanna more human looking.
- On a related note, Roxann was asked a question about her favorite B’Elanna hairstyle, and this lead Robbie to comment that she wears a different wig in the finale, indicating there would be hair down Roxann’s back. Concerned that he was giving away one of the finale secrets, Roxann said, “We’re not supposed to talk about that!”
- Several of the Voyager crew were in the audience, and Ethan Phillips pointed out his make-up artist, saying, “Only two more times do I get in that rubber.” One could speculate that Neelix, who is rumored to be left behind in the episode “Destiny,” two before the series finale, might actually appear in the last episode.