In the beginning of May more than 5,000 fans met their genre stars at FedCon XIX, Europe’s biggest Star Trek and Sci Fi convention, in Bonn, Germany. Star Trek was represented well by Michael Dorn, Terry Farrell, Suzie Plakson, Chase Masterson, Martha Hackett and Manu Intiraymi. See below for a report from the event, including photos.
Terry Farrell spoofs no-show – wanted different exit for Jadzia
Due to various reasons Trek stars Nicole de Boer, James Darren and Harry Groener all called off their appearances for in the days before the event. Some fans’ hearts may have skipped a beat when FedCon’s new Master of Ceremonies Ed Wasser announced during the Opening Ceremony that Terry Farrell unfortunately could not make it as well. A taped video message went onscreen in which the actress explained that she had been prevented from boarding her flight out of Pennsylvania and now was stuck in the US. The hoax played on the fact that Farrell had cancelled multiple appearances at FedCon in the past and when the actress appeared on stage an instant later, fans welcomed her with thunderous applause.
Terry Farrell conquered everybody’s hearts by storm when she entered the stage. She came across as absolutely authentic, unassuming and genuinely interested in her fans. Between panels, photo and autograph sessions she took her time to mingle and browse the merchandise and fan stands in the convention halls. The actress updated those who did not know that she had moved to Pennsylvania and enjoys her life as a mother and housewife now, noting that “being a mom is so much easier than acting because you don’t have to hold your stomach in and don’t get your picture taken all the time.”
Answering a question about Jadzia’s death scene on Deep Space Nine, Terry Farrell reiterated that the writers had not sought her input on how she would be written off the show. The actress would have preferred a different exit for her character, as being killed off precluded her from a possible return as a guest star. She was not only disappointed with the death as such, she said, but also with the way this was incorporated into the DS9 storyline. Being killed by Dukat who came out of nowhere felt pointless, Farrell told the fans. A better alternative? In her opinion it would have been much more dramatic if Worf had made a different decision in the sixth-season episode "Change of Heart" and left her to die on the alien world to successfully retrieve the valuable intelligence source.
Michael Dorn: Worf is "man’s man" – DS9 more serious set than TNG
The actor with the most Star Trek episodes lightheartedly recounted many anecdotes from his years as Trek’s most prominent Klingon. One thing he shares with his character: both hate tribbles “because they are too cute”. Michael Dorn told his audience that he had always regarded Worf as man’s man, not so much interested in fine intellectual endeavors but rather in sports, drinks and women. The following small exchange between Dorn an a fan perfectly captures the actor’s humor that shaped the atmosphere during his panels:
Fan: I am here with my 10 year old daughter and translating her question. She would like to know what was the best thing about playing Worf?
Dorn: The best thing about playing Worf… the women.
Fan: My daughter wants to know what you mean by that.
Dorn: What I mean by that? Wait, how old is your daughter again, 10? They all were very nice colleagues. You can tell her what I really meant when she is older…
Asked about his transition from TNG to DS9, the actor joked that it became a really easy decision once he heard about his salary. Continuing in earnest, Dorn named the atmosphere on set as the most striking difference. Whereas the TNG cast would never miss an opportunity for joke and laughter, Dorn initially felt on the DS9 set like “walking in a cathedral”. He got his colleagues to loosen up a little over next years, the actor added.
Suzie Plakson: loved chance to play TNG death scene
A character’s death scene also played prominently in Suzie Plakson’s panel. The artist, who now explores her singing talent and has released an album called "I Didn’t Wanna Do It," recalled that she was very excited when she heard that K’Ehleyr was to be killed off because she had never played a death scene before. Then she received the script and was so disappointed to read the words “K’Ehleyr is found dead.” which meant she would just lie on the floor motionless instead of acting out the last moments of her character’s life. With a thoughtful comment on gender roles on TV Plakson observed that the authors probably would have written a dramatic and action-packed fight scene if a male character had met the same fate.
Martha Hackett: Voyager one-off became recurring – cut from TNG finale
Martha Hackett delighted the fans with stories both about her most prominent role in Star Trek and one that we never came to see. The actress revealed that the Seska character on Voyager started as a one-off guest stint. Seska’s arc was not planned beforehand but emerged iteratively which each new script. Pregnancy led to a special coincidence: just as Hackett was preparing to inform the producers that she was pregnant, she received a script in which Seska’s pregnancy was revealed. Asked about whether Seska really loved Chakotay, the actress replied: “Yes, in her own way.” Her most enduring make-up was neither the Bajoran nor the Cardassian version of Seska nor the Romulan make-up as T’Rul in the DS9 two-parter The Search but her Terellian make-up for the TNG series finale. The alien make-up, which covered her whole head, took multiple hours to apply and again to remove. It was one of those make-up jobs where actors have to breathe through straws during the application process. And if you don’t remember Hackett’s alien from "All Good Things…" that’s because her scenes were cut in the end.
Chase Masterson: Sings – talks Leeta origin
Demonstrating her entertainment skills, Chase Masterson (literally) wrapped herself in the German flag for the Opening Ceremony and treated the crowd to a variety of jazzy songs during her panels. Echoing Marylin Monroe with “Latinum is a girl’s best friend”, Masterson asked for a brave Trekkie to join her on stage. What she meant by “brave” became clear when she zestfully removed the belt of his Starfleet uniform and nestled at his shirt – brave Ingo, whose wife was attending the panel too, however managed to keep his uniform on until the end of the song.
Next to singing, Chase Masterson described how she became acquainted with Trek prior to her role as Leeta: her boyfriend at the time was such a Trek fan that she was only allowed to call him during commercial breaks when Star Trek was airing. She was impressed by the show herself and let her agent know that she’d like to be on it. Masterson auditioned for the role of Jake Sisko’s love interest Mardah but did not get the part. As the producers were impressed by her auditioning nevertheless, they later created the role as Leeta specifically for her. The actress also recounted a funny anecdote of her work with Robert Picardo as Lewis Zimmerman in the DS9 episode "Doctor Bashir, I Presume." When Leeta reunites with Rom at the end and leaves Zimmerman on his own, Picardo originally was not given an exit line. The actor did not want to exit quietly however and before he settled on asking a beautiful Bajoran lady about her familiarity with the Earth text of Kama Sutra, Picardo as Zimmerman tried a couple of different lines, first among them: “Are you familiar with my work on
Star Trek: Voyager?”
Manu Intiraymi: Working with Jeri Ryan a challenge as teenage boy
The actor, who played Icheb in 11 episodes of Voyager, showed a couple of trailers for his latest movie Zah-A Pizza Movie and his upcoming WW2 drama Fortress. Reminiscing on his time on the Voyager set, Intiraymi mentioned that acting opposite beautiful Jeri Ryan became hard from time to time for the boy in puberty that he then was. Although he is grateful for all the opportunities that his stint on Voyager opened up for him, he said there’s one thing he does not miss for a second: his nickname “Borg boy.” The actor remarked, tongue in cheek, that after he got his agent to negotiate a pay raise for him, the authors started to put Icheb into life-threatening conditions in every new script he got. He claimed to have gotten the message.
Phase II’s Cawley premieres "Enemy: Starfleet" and previews "The Child"
In contrast to last year, when FedCon took place only days before the release of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek movie, star panels and conversations in the convention halls were dominated less by the new production and focused more on all the different series and movies that make up the franchise. FedCon attendees were treated to a premiere nevertheless when fan series Star Trek Phase II executive producer James Cawley introduced the upcoming episodes "Enemy:Starfleet" and "The Child". Work on "Enemy:Starfleet" was almost complete, and Phase II followers can look forward to an entertaining and action-packed episode when it will be released on the internet later this month. The cut of "The Child" screened in Bonn was far from finished, and it showed. Effects looked raw and the pacing seemed off. When completed, that episode will be released later this year.
Fewer of Star Trek’s big stars were present at this year’s FedCon than fans had become used to in the previous years. Nevertheless, some of this year’s guests had their German convention premiere and the Trek crowd was complemented, as in the past, with actors from other genre shows like Battlestar Galactica, Stargate and Torchwood. With this recipe FedCon organizers managed to attract about the same number of attendees as last year and sold around 5,500 tickets. Next year FedCon will be expanded by one day and turn into a four-day convention. FedCon XX will take place from April 28 to May 1, 2011 in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Above photos by René Kissien, unless otherwise noted.
Many More photos from FedCon available at fedcon.startrek.de .
Henning Koonert, TrekMovie’s German correspondent, is one of the managers for The TrekZone Network, a leading German Star Trek website (and TrekMovie.com partner). Henning will be reporting from FedCon XIX, so look for more updates.