FedCon, Europe’s biggest sci-fi and Star Trek con, is in full swing in Dusseldorf, Germany. This year’s Trek guests: William Shatner, Walter Koenig, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Robert O’Reilly, J. G. Hertzler and Eddie Paskey. See below for report from the first two days.
FEDCON XXI THURSDAY & FRIDAY
Gates McFadden reminisces on Beverly Crusher
Gates McFadden took the convention stage on Thursday evening – something that, she admitted candidly, had terrified her a little in the past. She recounted how she was the last of the TNG main cast to appear at a convention because she wondered why people would take an interest in her as a person instead of her character Doctor Crusher. It took her a while to grasp that, in her own words, a convention appearance would be "not about me but about something much bigger."
As for her return as Beverly Crusher in TNG’s third season, the actress recalled how for a few years the Beverly character still seemed different to her than where she had left it at the end of the first season. She thought the writers seemed to weave traits and manners of her second-season replacement Doctor Pulaski into the scripts. Only in the sixth and seventh season did Beverly feel the same again for her.
The TNG actress also told the attendees one of her stranger run-ins with a fan. When she had to have emergency surgery one day, the surgeon, upon entering her hospital room, cried out: "Doctor Crusher!" and apparently for the whole trajectory before and after the procedure, he treated her more as a colleague than as a patient, even showing her pictures of her own inner organs he had taken during the procedure, adding assuring: ‘They all look great.’
Walter Koenig on his contribution to Star Trek
Two more Trek stars came on stage Friday evening. First, the audience welcomed Walter Koenig with a long, warm applause. Asked about his opinion on J. J. Abrams’ Star Trek movie, Koenig first praised Anton Yelchin’s interpretation of the young Chekov. He then added that he liked the new movie and noted that filmmaking today was very different from when he shot Star Trek. Today, according to Koenig, pyrotechnics and eye candy play a more prominent role.
The actor also revealed a bit of his humorous side. Being asked about Chekov’s method for pressing the buttons on his console, he deadpanned: ‘It was certainly not random.’
Regarding appearance in the ‘New Voyages/Phase II’ episode ‘To Serve All My Days’, Koenig noted that it had been ‘a nice experience.’ He elaborated that due to the limited amount of screen time and depth his character Chekov got on TOS, for years Koenig felt that he had contributed little to the Star Trek phenomenon and wished to make a bigger contribution. To Koenig, with his appearance on ‘Phase II’ with Chekov integral to the story he could achieve that and felt he could close the circle.
Jonathan Frakes proves to be a great entertainer
Friday’s second highlight was Jonathan Frakes’ appearance. With his energy and humor, he could claim the title as Number One entertainer. Frakes set the tone for the panel when he started off with: ‘Do you know what makes you really feel old’ Wil Wheaton is 40 now.’
He shared a few anecdotes from the Star Trek set, like when Michael Dorn smashed a raw egg on Patrick Stewarts (to whom he referred as ‘Old Baldy. No, excuse me, Sir Baldy.’) head on the Enterprise bridge, or when during the filming of Star Trek: Insurrection he as Riker was naked in a hot tub together with Marina Sirtis as Troi and she asked him to touch her newly enhanced breasts to hear his professional opinion, or when he and Michael Dorn put Marina Sirtis’ soppy dog (Frakes: ‘Not so much a dog, a rat, really.’) into the microwave to dry the pet. All anecdotes ended with: ‘Not a true story.’
The funniest dialogue of the panel developed when an audience member began with: ‘I have got a question about battle scenes.’ to which Frakes replied: ‘What, bedroom scenes” ‘ ‘Battle scenes.’ ‘ ‘Oh, I’d much rather want to talk about the bedroom scenes. ‘ The prize for the wittiest panel moment, however, could not be claimed by the actor but goes to an audience member with her question: ‘How does it feel to be the only man to have touched Enterprise on her joystick”
FedCon continues on Saturday on Sunday. Saturday will bring Gates McFadden’s and Jonathan Frakes’ second appearances and Williams Shatners first panel. On Sunday, Walter Koenig and Shatner will appear on stage again.
J. G. Hertzler and Robert O’Reilly: The Klingon way
As people have come to expect from the duo, Robert O’Reilly and J. G. Hertzler delivered two rambunctious shows full of banter, Klingon singing and all-out laughter. The two actors beautifully played off each other, for example when Hertzler invited the members of the German Klingon fanclub Khemorex Klinzai on stage, only to have O’Reilly adding ‘but only the female ones! Those with the fishnet stockings!’
When a fan inquired about Klingon makeup, one of the more common questions, Robert O’Reilly still came up with a refreshing answer: ‘Makeup, no. I had a problem with the Klingon underwear. They’re made of used staples.’ A little bit later, prompted by a question about the Klingon war against the Tribbles, he shone some light on the mystery: ‘The Klingons were at war with the Tribbles. 3 hours and 25 minutes later we had killed them all. 4 hours later we had eaten them all. And a little while later ‘ hairballs. That’s why we don’t like to talk about it.’
Eddie Paskey on life as a Redshirt
The first Star Trek actor to take the stage at this year’s FedCon was Eddie Paskey. The retired actor fondly remembered his time on Star Trek as William Shatner’s stand-in and the background Redshirt who would become Lieutenant Leslie – a name given to his character ad hoc by Shatner one day. Captain Kirk had to address Paskey’s character in a scene and Shatner said: ‘I can’t just call you Lieutenant Something…’ So he christened him Leslie on the spot. Why Leslie’ The name of Shatner’s oldest daughter.
Asked about animosities between William Shatner and some of the other cast members, Paskey said he was very surprised when he read about this in later publications. To his mind all those involved in the production of Star Trek acted like a family, looked out for and supported each other. He also spoke about the cordial relationship that he and William Shatner have developed over the years and Paskey was proud that Shatner called him a ‘friend’ once they ran into each other years after they had last worked together.
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.