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Keeping ‘Trek’ flying Without Tube Power January 7, 2007

by Brian Lowry , Filed under: Editorial , trackback

Reprinted with permission from Variety

For anybody looking to start the year on a hopeful note, consider this: "Star Trek: The Experience," a theme-park-style attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton, does a brisk wedding business, allowing happy couples to get hitched or renew their vows on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Now just consider the odds against this: Not only do such unions require a big enough "Star Trek" enthusiast to want to be married on a mock starship (up to four extras in full Klingon, BORG or Ferengi regalia, by the way, are part of the "Admiral’s Wedding" package), but said party must find someone willing to become Mr. or Mrs. Geek under these circumstances.

Clearly, there are no quadrants of the galaxy where love doesn’t reach.

Even more intriguing than these "Trek" ceremonies, however, was pondering how many might be second or third nuptials based on the demographics of those beaming on board. Because during a trip that included experiencing "The Experience" (OK, so I’m a bit of a geek myself), it was striking to see how many waiting to conquer the BORG probably haven’t been asked to flash IDs in a bar since Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Despite enviable durability, there’s no getting around the fact that "Star Trek" is aging, bringing a new set of challenges not only for those steering the ship but its increasingly geriatric fan base. The original, after all, began its five-year mission 40 years ago. Freed from dry-dock by the launch of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," one spin-off or another aired on TV from 1987 until UPN hit the "abort" button on "Enterprise" in 2005.

Remastering the original series, Internet fan sites, self-generated fiction, games, conventions, auctioning off memorabilia, even a cheeky DirecTV ad featuring William Shatner, keep the show alive, pending the arrival of movie No. XI under J.J. Abrams’ stewardship (scheduled for release next year). Yet without current TV project to call home, stoking the "Trek" flame requires considerable care.

It’s worth noting, too, that the business environs surrounding what Paramount carefully nurtured and lovingly dubbed "the franchise" have changed, with CBS Consumer Products retaining licensing and merchandising rights in the split with Viacom, whose Paramount arm will release the next movie.

Divorce, as they say, can be toughest on the kids.

Jean-Ann Pavoni-Biller, director of sales for "Star Trek: The Experience, "says the venue performs roughly 200 weddings and vow renewals annually, with newlyweds coming from all over the demographic and geographic maps, including many visiting from the U.K. and Australia. That number has "stayed pretty constant," she says, while acknowledging a new movie could inject some zip into the old warp drive.

Beyond weddings, "The Experience" offers more conventional means of separating fools from their disposable income, from shelling out $15 to have a picture taken in the captain’s chair to a gift shop where $300 buys an official uniform, complete with Starfleet insignia.

It’s been joked that "Star Trek" and porn helped power the Internet’s birth, and in some respects, this space odyssey does represent a commodity like none other. Lacking the explosive start "Star Wars" enjoyed, "Trek" has been wholly sustained by the passion of a wildly committed fan base that literally brought it back to life, following it through five TV programs and 10 movies.

Cautionary tales orbit the "Trek" universe, among them actors recognizable only to a faithful few haunting conventions, peddling autographs and pictures. And given today’s tendency to rush to embrace the next big thing, can anyone foresee long queues for photos with players from "Lost" or "Heroes" in, say,2046? The mind boggles.

All such voyages must end sooner or later, but it’s hard to imagine the inevitable day when "Star Trek" will be as foreign a concept to kids as Flash Gordon or the Shadow, leaving behind blank stares to lines like, "He’s dead, Jim" and "Beam me up, Scotty." For now, there are enough fans out there to keep the mission alive, but a franchise can’t live forever on geek love alone.

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Star Trek The Experience

Article courtesy of Variety

Brian Lowry is the Chief TV Critic for Variety. He is also currently the co-host of a weekly TV program, "Square Off," which airs on TV Guide Channel and is devoted to the business of television.

Comments

1. James Heaney - January 7, 2007

Depressing but hopeful, pardoxical as that may be.

The nicest thing about the article was that it lacked a single reference to my mother’s basement. It was not nearly as demeaning towards Trekkies as a lot of pieces in the MSM, which made it a great deal easier to read.

2. Billyboy - January 7, 2007

Star Trek conventions on 2046? The mind boggles and still, I am sure if alive I will still be going to them. Star Trek is not going to ever die.

As a school teacher I can confirm that the kidlets really think Trek blows. But I don’t blame them if all they’re familiar with is the last two series. But I still see young educated people at the cons. (I shudder that I use the phrase “young people”.)

I am sure it will resurrect much like Doctor Who has in the UK. Just takes someone cool to pull it off.

3. Commodore Z - January 7, 2007

I like Lost and Heroes, but I won’t be attending Lost or Heroes conventions in 20 years. I’m not sure if I’ll be gong to Trek cons, either, but I have been a Trek fan all my life, and there’s at least a chance. As long as they have interesting guests, and there’s friends I want to see.

4. CmdrR - January 7, 2007

My God, she’s cute!

5. An olde timey fan - January 7, 2007

4. CmdrR – January 7, 2007
My God, she’s cute!

Yep. Obviously a model hired by the advertising firm!

6. K - January 7, 2007

Trek Go Braugh!

We young ones will remember the First Fans and pass the medicine to our children…

What other part of culture is so fervent that they film their own movies on their own tab??? Trek is unique, special, and dare I say religious…

Is The Great Bird of the Galaxy the next great prophet?

He died over a decade ago, but he is more powerful than you can imagine…

The Force got nothin on Trek…

7. K - January 7, 2007

Build your starship one piece at a time…

http://www.electronichouse.com/article/star_trek_theater/C154

8. K - January 7, 2007

Klingon google…

http://www.klingonsearch.com/

9. James Heaney (fka Wowbagger) - January 7, 2007

ACTUAL Klingon Google: http://www.google.com/intl/xx-klingon/ Now get back on topic or face the wrath of Hitch1969, who will surely place his Mac in thine Pants.

10. L - January 7, 2007

> Klingon google…
> http://www.klingonsearch.com/

:-) … And Google.com itself has a Klingon option
(in the Interface Language drop-menu in Google Preferences).
It was added in 2002, afaik.

11. L - January 7, 2007

Oops James you beat me to it.

Now back to your regularly scheduled topic.

12. StephenMartin - January 8, 2007

I’ve never been to the experience. I’m going to Vegas tomorrow and I plan on visiting it.

13. G - January 8, 2007

#7 was shown on HGTV on “Look What I Did”

14. hitch1969© - January 8, 2007

well well well….

“…happy couples to get hitched”

and

“or face the wrath of Hitch1969, who will surely place his Mac in thine Pants”

TWO hitch mentions in this article. BIG DAWG A.P. and James Heaney you guys are you know what in the you know what. BIG TIME.

best!!

=h=

15. Mark - January 8, 2007

#12 – When you go to ST: The Experience, make sure you take the behind the scenes tour as well. It’s about 2 hours long and you get to see how they “transport” you onto the Enterprise, you spend a great deal of time on the Bridge, etc. Definitely worth doing.

16. StephenMartin - January 8, 2007

^^
Thanks, Mark. I’ll be sure and do that.

17. Lukas - January 8, 2007

And Stephen? Do yourself a favor and get a drink called a ‘warp core breach’ once you get to Quark’s. Five kinds of rum, five kinds of fruit juice and dry ice billowing out of a small fish bowl about the size of a melon. It’l take you an hour and a half to finish, and it stays ice cold the whole time because of the dry ice. It’s the best drink they serve.
Avoid the one with ‘plasma’ in the name (plasma leak?). That one’s just mountain dew and vodka. Blecch.

18. Paul Walker - January 8, 2007

My name is Paul Walker and I am Captain of the USS Las Vegas a Star Trek fan club here in Las Vegas NV and we hold our monthly meetings at Star Trek: Experience every month. As a former employee of Star Trek:Experience and as Captain of the ship I would encourage all TREKKIES to come by and check it out for themselves.

If anyone is planning a trip here to Las Vegas I would also like to suggest an alternative to the full price ticketing that Star Trek: Experience charges at their gate. Please visit TIX4TONIGHT on the Las Vegas Strip for half off prices.

If you would like more info on us please access our clubs website http://www.usslasvegas.org and send me an email so our ship can help maximize your TREK time…

19. StephenMartin - January 8, 2007

Thanks for the tips Paul!

20. Robert Bernardo - January 10, 2007

I’ve been to Vegas many times, and I can’t leave the town without paying homage at the shrine, Star Trek: the Experience. I didn’t know there was a ST club there! If one of my trips coincides with one of Paul’s meetiings, I’d like to attend.

21. StephenMartin - January 12, 2007

I went. The ride sucked. Big time! The movie was faded and blurred, and the shuttle was jerky and off kilter. I wouldn’t recommend this ride to my worst enemy. It was painful…in more than one way.

22. James Castro - January 13, 2007

My wife and I renewed our vows on our 5th year anniversary in 2006 on the Enterprise at Star Trek the Experience in Vegas and it was a dream come true for this trek lover. My wife made my dream come true by marrying me again and allowing us to do it on my favorite starship. The admiral that was assigned to “wed” us with the great trek music in the background was like being in a star trek movie of my very own. I highly recommend it to all trek lovers looking to add a piece of Star Trek to their personal life.

Quark’s bar was a great place for our reception, the souvenir shops made a ton of money off of me, the Star Trek museum was enjoyable…however, the ride was not as good as I hoped (transporting though was the best part of the ride…greart effect). Overall it was an experience I will never forget.

23. Ed DR - January 25, 2007

oh yeah! My God she’s cute.

24. Ed DR - January 25, 2007

Do they play Shatner’s “Rocket Man” during the wedding?

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