It took two separate panels to accommodate the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 20th Anniversary Reunion at Creation Entertainment’s Las Vegas convention August 11. Creation assembled a nearly complete cast of 16 DS9 main cast members for the commemorative event. And in between panels, when writer-producer Ira Steven Behr walked on stage with the cast, the scene brought hundreds of camera flashes in Rio Resort and Casino’s main theater. You don’t have to be a die-hard DS9 fan to appreciate these increasingly rare convention reunion moments. Fans, actors — even sideline observers can’t help but get a little choked up. Who knows when, where or if an ensemble like this will be on the same stage together again?
After introductions and pleasantries, Creation’s panel moderator Adam Malin immediately got to the heart of the matter, quizzing DS9 actors about their characters’ interactions and development. Parallels between the relationships of actors and characters were explored — such as the father and son relationship between Sisko and Jake. For example, in real life, Cirroc Lofton, who played Jake, said Brooks served as his mentor. He said Avery Brooks wanted to sure he knew his lines: “Every day he’d ask me: ‘Are you ready for this. ‘”
“Look at him now,” said Brooks of the 35-year-old Lofton. “He’s all grown up,” he remarked, as Lofton stood up beside him, comparing his height. “He’s taller than me now.” Armin Shimerman (DS9’s Quark) jumped off his chair to pose next to them on his knees, poking fun at his much taller fellow cast members.
In describing another kind of on-set relationship, second panel member Chase Masterson described her character’s (Leeta) romance with and eventual marriage to Rom, played by Max Grodenchik. She stressed in the late 90s, while so many TV shows were filled with dysfunctional couples, Leeta’s and Rom’s relationship was a normal and happy one.
Chase Masterson (Leeta)
One of the more complex relationships of the series was that of Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) and Odo (Rene Auberjonois), which developed from a connection of two co-workers to a close friendship — then from a romantic attraction to the ultimate unconditional love.
Nana Visitor (Kira) Rene Auberjonois (Odo)
Michael Dorn and Terry Farrell explored the growth of their relationship as well, although Farrell wasn’t always comfortable with the sometimes mischaracterization of Jadzia Dax as a “gossipy” simbiont, exchanging trivialities with Quark. Dorn retold how his Worf character really developed with Deep Space Nine, especially as Dax’s love interest, even though he said “Worf was “still a bit of a cranky pants.”
Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax)
Ira Steven Behr greets a packed room at Star Trek Las Vegas
Star Trek convention reunion panels always draw a wide range of questions. Fans dissect characters, analyze relationships, pour over the significance of events and story lines. Yet Star Trek fans never grow tired of hearing the stories. They lean on these anecdotes, hoping that some unknown tidbit of the series might pop out, some new twist or little snippet of a set scenario may still be uncovered. They know these cast member conversations are priceless souvenirs of every convention.
Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat) Aron Eisenberg (Nog)
Happy to work
And although some panels may come off like the intro segments of late night talk shows, the Deep Space 9 cast acknowledged it was a serious bunch; they didn’t subscribe to many pranks on or off the set. Similarly both 20th anniversary DS9 reunion panels had a serious, subdued but sentimental tone. Each actor recollected about the development of their roles over the seven-year series run. Some said they felt just happy to be employed, adding they felt very much at ease with the group, no matter at what point they had joined the series. Others described their roles on the show as being “just like any other job,” at least at first, adding they did not expect their roles to continue past a few episodes or maybe one season. Also, at the time of filming, most agreed they did not get acquainted with each other off the set. DS9 cast members told fans, these Star Trek conventions also have been opportunities for them to get to know each other better, reconnect and catch up with each others’ career projects and personal lives. Almost every actor seemed to agree, they had no idea the show would “become this big” or “have such a major impact” on society.
Probably the least complex character was nightclub owner singer-emcee-hologram Vic Fontaine, played by James Darren, who joked his character was around in the last season to give love advice and entertain. At the end of their Deep Space Nine panel, Avery Brooks joined Darren for a reprise of Cy Coleman’s song they performed as Fontaine and Sisko in Season 7, episode 15, “Badda Bing, Badda Bang.” One can hope this song, “The Best is Yet to Come” could be a simple, but prophetic wisdom — both for the Star Trek franchise and convention reunions.
Avery Brooks and James Darren strike up a duet
Max Grodenchik (Rom), Chase Masterson (Leeta) listen to Casey Biggs (Damar)
Second DS9 panel answers fan questions