Mission: New York Day Three – Voyager Cast, Koenig, and Shatner

Courtesy Mission: New York

The third and final day of Mission: New York was launched by the Voyager cast with their longtime producer Brannon Braga and was closed out in style by William Shatner and Walter Koenig.

Voyager

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The Voyager panel got off to a good start when Ethan Phillips tried to sit in Robert Duncan McNeill’s lap. Roxann Dawson, McNeill, Phillips, Robert Picardo, Brannon Braga, and Kate Mulgrew talked about being mugged in New York before heading into more Voyager-themed topics.

They had a long conversation about Tuvix, after getting over their astonishment that he was one of moderator Jordan Hoffman’s favorite characters, and Braga said, “one of the stupidest concepts became a great morality dilemma for Janeway.” When they reminded Mulgrew that Janeway had to kill Tuvix to save Tuvok and Neelix, the light dawned. “Bloody right I did!” she said.

When asked about their least favorite episode, Picardo named “Twisted,” explaining that all they got to do in that one was turn corners or open doors and look surprised. They asked Braga what his favorite episode to write was: “Year of Hell.” He added that the best Voyager episodes had high concepts, used all the characters, and was thematic, a combination they tried to hit all the time but didn’t always succeed. McNeill chimed in that really, the best episodes included Captain Proton. He said he’d like to do a Captain Proton web series and bring them all back for it.

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Mulgrew, still steering the conversation (and clearly in command) brought up how delightful Ethan Phillips was to have on set. She said whenever she was tired and cranky, he lifted her right up, and that she cried when he left—a reminder that Neelix left Voyager before she returned home. His farewell scene broke everyone up, including the crew, who had dressed in uniform to participate in the scene.

Hoffman asked their opinions on Bryan Fuller, since they’d worked with him fairly closely, and the word was all positive. “He was just a boy,” Mulgrew said. “Very smart, very precocious, kind, and wonderfully imaginative. I knew he would do wonderful things.” Braga told the crowd, “If I had to pick a single writer on the planet to do Star Trek, it would be Bryan Fuller.” They promised that his passion and his deep love of Star Trek was great news for Star Trek: Discovery.

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They revealed just how crazy executives were at the beginning when it came to Mulgrew’s hair. They were constantly stopping takes to fix it, even doing reshoots, and finally she said, “They’re either going to buy me as the Captain or they’re not,” and put a stop to it. She said the one thing she’d really like to do is go back to that scene in the first episode where she tells the crew they’re stuck in the Delta Quadrant, and reshoot it without 50 guys staring at her, still in a state of nervousness after the recent departure of Geneviève Bujold. “You all were so good to me,” she said about her first days on set.

Dawson remembered that she was pregnant, playing Paris’ wife, at the same time McNeill’s wife was pregnant, and speculated on how much fun that must have been for him.

When asked how they felt about the series ending, Mulgrew said she thought it was sublime. “Admiral Janeway sacrified her life for Captain Janeway.” McNeill said he wouldn’t change a thing, since he loved B’Elanna barefoot and pregnant, and Picardo mentioned that when Chakotay suddenly scored Seven of Nine, he got a consolation prize of a tall blonde sexy wife. They wrapped it up by talking about Discovery again, and how happy they were to hear there would be a gay character on the crew. “I wish it had happened sooner,” Picardo told the crowd.

Walter Koenig

 

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New York native Walter Koenig spent his entire time on stage answering questions from fans, and thoroughly entertained the packed room.

When asked why NBC would cancel the series, he very bluntly stated that “NBC didn’t like Gene.  He rubbed them the wrong way…they didn’t get it. They didn’t understand what we were doing.”

He said that he was treated well by the cast when he joined the series during the second season and that the biggest joker on the set was Shatner, saying “Bill was the life of the party.  He was the star and he set the tone.”

He spoke of the tough times he faced after the series was canceled and how he landed a writing assignment on The Animated Series after Gene Roddenberry saw a horror script he had written.  The episode he wrote, “The Infinite Vulcan”, was ultimately not a very happy experience for him, and when they asked him if he wanted to do a second script, he declined.

He spoke of seeing Star Trek ’09 and the trepidation he felt:

I wasn’t sure how I’d react to the first reboot movie.  I didn’t know if I’d feel threatened by this movie that didn’t include me.  To my great happiness, I loved the movie! I just sat back and felt complimented by this young man playing Chekov.

Walter then spoke of the recent passing of Anton Yelchin:

I was so impressed with him.  He had done leading roles in film before Star Trek. Such a good person, such a breath of fresh air. I knew he would continue to grow and be someone who would be admired. He was a beautiful person, a beautiful young man.  It’s a great loss to us all that he won’t be with us.

Star Trek: Discovery was the talk of the convention, and Walter has a positive feeling about the new series for one particular reason:

The thing that gives me the most confidence is that they hired Nick Meyer. Extremely bright, extremely talented writer…he has a great sense of compassion, of conviction, and a wonderful imagination.  I’m so relieved he’s going to be a part of this.

William Shatner

Courtesy Mission: New York

Courtesy Mission: New York

“Thank you soo much! I love New York!”

Convention headliner William Shatner arrived on the New York stage to thunderous applause from a capacity crowd in the Main Hall of the Javits Center. The ageless icon never stopped moving around the stage during his entire 50 minute talk, and entertained the crowd with stories about Star Trek and his long career.

He opened by reminiscing about his many experiences on Broadway in shows like The World of Suzie Wong and The Music Box, and told the story about the first time he ever visited the Big Apple as a teenager, when he and a group of friends rowed a war canoe from Montreal and the way to New York City.  Shatner quipped that he knew they were getting close to New York, “when I saw that little brown things were floating in the water.”

He recently went to Cambridge, England to interview the legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking for an upcoming tv special called “The Truth Is In Our Stars”.  Shatner said that after Hawking had  answered his questions –

He had written that he wanted to ask me a question.  So I said, “Dr. Hawking, what is your question?” So the question comes back “what are your favorite episodes?”. When somebody asks me a question like that…if I want to give an honest answer I’ll say, you know I don’t remember a lot of them, but the popular ones, like “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “City On The Edge Of Forever”

Shatner went further and was brutally honest about just how much Star Trek he remembers and has actually seen:

When someone asks me “what are your favorite episodes?”, I’m like, who the hell remembers? I don’t like to look at my stuff on camera.  Not only have I not seen any of the other Star Treks, I’ve hardly seen the Star Trek I was on.  I don’t know why.  There’s a deep psychological reason why I haven’t seen any of the others.  Some of my dearest buddies are in The Next Generation and I’ve never seen The Next Generation!

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, he pontificated on Star Trek’s Prime Directive, saying you shouldn’t interfere with another civilization, “unless you have a tv show, then interfere.”

He continues to be amazed at how much of an effect Star Trek has had on people around the world:

A lot of people come up to me, even here today, tears in their eyes, talking about how Star Trek influenced their lives, and I’ve seen that time and time again and I’m in awe of the effect.

 


More Mission NY Coverage:

Day 1 write up

Discovery Panel

Day 2 write up

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Love the Shat.

As to why he can’t watch any of the other Trek series…

I’d offer the classic tale of Al Jolson, the biggest star in the US at one point, who nonetheless had to run the water in the sink while the opening act was on stage, so that the noise of the water would drown them out and he didn’t have to hear what he regarded as the competition.

I don’t know if that’s it. He’s not a fan. He doesn’t watch TOS or any of the TOS movies. He’s not interested in watching Trek- its consumed so much of his life, that if he does watch something, then it is anything else. I would bet that Nimoy didn’t watch much of it either.

But he says he never watches anything he does. He does the job, it’s done is his point of view.

I love Al Jolson and I did not know this! It makes a lot of sense in this context. Thanks for sharing :D

As someone who shudders every time I see or hear myself on camera, I totally get the feeling

A lot of actors don’t like watching their own work.

I think Shatner is very self conscious. It manifests itself in certain ways and I think connects to his overwhelming fear of dying, which he has discussed before. I think its all connected to the perception by some that he’s a jerk. I think he is very professional in the sense “this is a job” and I suspect part of the alienation with Paramount is probably that he doesnt say “Yes, please I’d love to do it”, he says “Maybe, what does it pay?”

Plus, having people call you bald and fat for 50 years doesnt help ones self esteem. Although I think he’s seen more than he lets on. part of it is portraying himself as a bit above the masses. I mean, surely he was at the premieres of all his films, no?

TUP Today 8:20 am

Yeah, could be. He has been known to exaggerate, and tell the occasional white lie.

He’s a bit like an uncle who’s known to tell a tall tale. And while he’s telling it, your mom or dad looks over at you and gives you a *wink*. Still, everybody loves to hear the story.

It could be ingenious really. If you were him and did as many appearances, would you want to debate the finer points of obscure references in TV shows you made 50 years ago or say “I dont event watch them”? He likes to talk about the things he likes to talk about and is savvy enough to avoid the mundane things he doesnt want to talk about.

I can’t hold it against anyone to not be fully immersed in an aspect of a field that they work in- now, if Shat had no Knowledge of other actors, that might be weird, but I totally get that Trek might not be his thing off-time-wise. I’m an illustrator, and I mostly work in comics. I love comics. I also do mass produced motorcycle graphics (helmet illustrations and such). I am not interested in moto culture at all, and yet I have folks asking me about my fav makes and models on a regular basis. Loose corollary, but I feel like I get it, kinda. Just cuz you play poker doesn’t mean you know how card tricks work…..?

Look at that photo of Shatner at the top of the thread . He looks about 72, not 85. Stick him in the new series in some kind of nod/tribute (as long as he doesn’t ask for too much money).

My reaction to the photo was that he doesn’t even look 70 here.

In the 1979 interviews for that RETURN TO TOMORROW book Shat says he rewatched TREK constantly before and/or during TMP, to try to find the parts of the portrayal he wanted to get back. He has conveniently forgotten this, though the Shat of that time frame seems like he was working on more thrusters (his comments about just how good Connery was as Bond in that same book really makes me think Shat was as perceptive as some claimed, at least with respect to matters that were of interest to him.)

Also Shatner wrote a novel that continued after the events of Star Trek: Generations. It was a Borg story (Star Trek: First Contact did not exist yet) with intense detail about the Borg, why (in his opinion) the Galaxy class were a failure (correctly explaining how many of them had been lost), etc. Hard to believe he could have penned a single word of that novel if he had not watched a single episode of TNG.

Ghost writers. Shatner has never written anything. Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens usually did his Trek books and are also given cover credit.

I think he is playing when he says he doesnt watch it. It might be he doesnt remember details enough to accurately discuss the finer points of TOS episodes, so his new stock answer is to rattle off a couple of popular titles and say he didnt really watch. Didnt he also contradict himself on whether he watched 09?

I agree. My parents are 70 and 73, very active (though my dad has Parkinson’s), and Shatner looks much younger. He looks like Captain Kirk. They blew their chance to get him back on film, lets get him in the TV show…and not a cameo, not as Chef or Uncle Allan. As James T Kirk and get him back in that chair! Generations blew it by never having him on the bridge of the E-D (I believe an early draft did have him taking command).

His youthful appearance is nothing outside of remarkable!

Not just looks, but energy. The man is 5 years shy of turning 90. Amazing. Maybe Prime Kirk has magic blood as well!

He couldn’t sit still for more than a few seconds, and he was booming the entire time, it was almost exhausting! In contrast to Mr. Koenig, who at times seemed his age, Shatner didn’t feel a day over 60.

I was at Star Trek: Mission New York this weekend with my brother and niece (all 3 days). I got to “meet” William Shatner while he autographed my Enterprise model (super cool), so I got to see him up close. He looks AMAZING! There is no way he is 85 (and yes, I know he is). There’s not a wrinkle on his face, and he’s a bundle of energy! When he was on stage, he was moving briskly across the stage, and he seemed really sharp. Great genetics!

Keep in mind that he had an autograph signing at 11 AM – 12:15 PM, photo ops after that, another autograph signing after that, and then he was on stage for his solo panel! Also, he was in Toronto on Friday and Saturday for another convention. The man has quite the schedule. I’m not sure that I could keep up with him!

Why don’t they have videos of these panels? Maybe I’m so clouded by instant streaming these days that I can’t fathom why we couldn’t actually watch instant videos of these panels in 2016… it’s a shame anyway..

Am I the only one who finds it weird that they seem to be using the inclusion of a gay character as a selling point? I’m starting to fear that this character’s sexual orientation will overshadow everything else about him/her.

By that logic then everything about the show is a selling point — which it should be. It’s called Star Trek! It takes place in the future! It has gay people! These are selling points. Why? Because it’s what we want.

albatrosity Today 10:14 am

Well, that seems like an almost intentional oversimplification of the issue. Is it a selling point that the show has people in it? That there will be lights and costumes? I mean…let’s not get totally ridiculous here.

It IS a selling point that there will be a gay character. Just as a trans character in OITNB is a selling point. But again, Fuller being gay leads to these questions. If he said no there will NOT be a gay character or no we will not deal with sexual orientation, people would ask him why…

A woman writer/director/producer who reaches a certain level of power is likely to go to bat for issues she feels are important and empowering women in Hollywood would likely be one of those, especially if her experiences as a woman in Hollywood was not a positive one. Fuller brings his own experiences as a gay man in Hollywood and now has the power to positively influence film & TV with respect to perceptions of the gay community. 50 years from now, people will look back on this and shake their heads that anyone had an issue with it.

Yes, it’s just you. I don’t think it’s so much a selling point — like what, they need an LGBTQ audience to boost the numbers? — but more as an evolution of how they portray the diversity inside the Federation (in-universe) and a positive role-model for other shows/studios, a step forward for representation in the real world, which matters.

When you never see someone like yourself on TV, or worse, only see people like yourself portrayed in a negative light, positive representation is a huge step forward. (See: Whoopi Goldberg / Nichelle Nichols). Having a matter-of-factly gay character who isn’t a) evil b) comic relief c) doomed (see TVTropes ‘Bury Your Gays’ page) is, sad to say, revolutionary in 2016.

To be fair, I think that Legate Damar is correct in his perception of Fuller’s response regarding the gay character. “Absolutely, we’re having a gay character” does sound like the character is being touted as a selling point, as opposed to, for example, “One of the characters (or two, or three…) in the show is gay, yes.” Consider if a reporter had asked Fuller, “Are you having any Black characters in the show?” Fuller might have answered, “One (or two, or three…) of the characters happens to be Black. Why do you ask?” Because having Black characters on a TV show is very common today and has been for decades. Somehow I don’t think that Fuller would have said, “Absolutely, we’re having a Black character.” So, I think that Fuller’s response does come across as him touting the gay character. Though, I don’t think it’s weird for him to do that. However, I do think that it’s not the best approach PR-wise.

In a similar way that its important the lead is a woman because its not as common as men, even though Star Trek did that years ago. Its an interesting social dynamic where people seem bothered or perplexed by the “gay character”. I’d say most people wouldnt care if the lead was black. But a gay character causes all sort of consternation. Even this reach of “maybe they are making too big a deal” ie. selling point is a subtle argument against it. And to be fair, there have been people who roll their eyes at the idea of a female lead too.

The fact Fuller happens to be gay drives the question. If the showrunner was a woman, the media would ask about women on the show. Orange is the New Black features a trans character and it’s news worthy. These are barriers that are being broken down. Its important. And it’s worthy.

Saying that, I dont want a character who’s sexual orientation is an issue. He should just be gay like the Captain is (presumably) straight. Have him in a relationship that is shown the same as any other. They wake up together, they eat breakfast together. They argue, they discuss their day. They show concern for each others well being. Have it seem perfectly normal as it should by the 23rd century.

@Cygnus. Well, the network and some fans fought the introduction of a gay character for years – and Fuller, who is gay, says he got death threats back when a gay character was proposed for Voyager. So it matters to him. And it’s odd to some that it took 50 years and hundreds of hours of television for this to happen.

Having well-developed characters on a show (who don’t die) still isn’t common. And there’s never been one on Star Trek.

Why the heck is it not the best approach PR-wise? Good grief. And we’re talking about a couple of panel interviews here over a period of months – it’s not like CBS has ads on the sides of buses touting ‘first gay in Starfleet!’

Would you be happier if he wasn’t saying anything at all? I’m so frustrated by fans right now.

A lot of people are griping about that here. It’s a big deal for Trek because it’s never happened before – which is a strange oversight on a show that’s always publicized its ahead-of-its-time inclusiveness (even when it wasn’t ahead of its time) – and, apparently, there was a lot of resistance to it from the network, and some fans, for years. Fuller, a gay man, has said he got death threats when there was talk of a gay character on Voyager. So, yes, it’s personal for him.

I just find it strange that there’s so much worry here about this gay character being defined by gayness – and I’m not even sure what that means exactly (are other characters defined by their Asianness/maleness/whiteness/etc?) – it keeps coming up over and over here. And that saddens me.

I hope everyone understands, I am glad that there is a gay character. It just seems weird that that is one of the things they are promoting about the new show.

Great. Braga endorses Fuller. That really inspires confidence.

It was my first Trek convention and I absolutely loved it. The ENT panel was my favorite, followed by VOY, cuz Kate was a riot. Honestly any panel that wasn’t dominated by Jordan’s questions was gold. No disrespect for Mr. Hoffman, but the guy isn’t a great interviewer — his questions were bland, and when he surrendered the mic to the stars, everyone had a better time, I thought.

Kate Mulgrew steamrolled Hoffman at times to direct the conversation, and it was all the better for it!

I didn’t care for his moderating at all. Same dull questions every panel, no control of the room. She was marvelous though, and rightfully took charge!

I met Shatner, Takei, Nichelle and Christopher Lloyd at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto on the weekend and they looked great! Christopher looked tired when my friend and I had a photo session with him and DoLearn car. Nichelle was so beautiful and I loved how delightful Takei was to us in in the photo sessions. Of course Shatner was cool when we stood to his side. :)

Keonig says, ““Bill was the life of the party. He was the star and he set the tone.”

I’ve always said that. As David Gerrold said also last night on the Smithsonian Trek special, Shatner is the tone of the whole show. I’ve been saying that for years.

Stuck out to me that Keonig made positive statements about Shatner. Did he say anything else? Seems to contradict the narrative that Shatner was an a$$h0le that made life miserable for the supporting actors.

That narrative always bothered me – because even the complainers said Bill was always friendly and absolutely professional on set – there were just long-simmering gripes because there were reports that he’d asked for more lines at the expense of another character at some point behind the scenes and not in front of the other actors (I’m not even sure whether those reports are actually true – and if they were, whether it was just one or two times). The guy was the star of the show. David Gerrold has written that Shatner held the show together, was incredibly hardworking and professional – and he’s said the gripes from cast members who worked a day or two a week (especially the gripes from one particular actor) are absurd and don’t reflect reality. Takei’s complaints really do border on obsession – Bill didn’t recognize me on the lot after my one line in the pilot, Bill didn’t come to my wedding, Bill dared asked me in Trek IV whether I’d prefer to be on the bridge of the Enterprise and be in way more scenes rather than have my own ship and only be in three. I do wish Shatner had taken the high road and just not responded. His YouTube videos and books (still complaining about that roast years after it happened) really did make it worse. And previously, Koenig has said the Bill just didn’t get that Trek was an ensemble show, like TNG. But the thing is, it… Read more »

Yeah it was actually a pleasant surprise to hear Koenig talk about how he really enjoyed being on set back in the 60s. I expected it to be an excruciating experience, given what we’ve been told over the years. But I think the honest truth is that Bill is just a very self-centered man, and it’s evident in the way he answered questions on stage, which were almost entirely about him and his projects and had little insight beyond that. Walter took the time to answer like a dozen questions, whereas Bill only got to three. But I agree that Shat was the lifeblood of the show, and let’s be real, he’s the star we all wanted to see — that’s saying something.

Remember, Bill is sill working. I dont think its so much self-centered as it is all business. He’s “joked” a few times about what he would say if asked about Trek and he says “what does it pay” or “how big is my role”. But realistically, he’s a working actor/director/producer. He doesnt have to work. He’s filthy rich. But he’s promoting his work when he appears anywhere.

I saw him live here in Winnipeg doing his one man show and it was awesome. He has incredible energy and is very charming. But I dont blame him for wanting to talk about what HE wants to talk about.

They were going to re-launch TOS without Spock. Would they have without Kirk? Maybe….but it wouldnt have been TOS then.

Ive been saying this for ages. TOS was NOT an ensemble. It was Shatner/Nimoy/Kelley. Period. ANY of those other actors could have been replaced and no one would care. They OWE Shatner a heart-felt thanks, not whining. And for all their crap, if Shatner was petty all he had to do during the TOS film run was say he wasnt returning unless they cut Takei…and they would have.

Takei is the dirt worst. He’s kept his name out there on the back of Shatner. Didnt mind doing the roast did he? Hates Shatner so much but get a payday? Sure. Again, Shatner could have iced him out and never did.

What has any of those guys done since TOS? William Shatner is an award winning actor.

TUP,

Re: It was Shatner/Nimoy/Kelley. Period.

Yes, that’s what it eventually became. But it doesn’t serve us to mischaracterize it as if it was always that way.

Definitely wasn’t that way in the first two pilots nor was it in MANTRAP….

IMO the most notable of Mr. Shatner’s remarks were in response to a question about his experience in “Judgment at Nuremberg”. After speaking about how strongly the experience on set brought home to the cast the question of whether humanity could ever stop being so stupid as to do such things, he drew parallels to current issues, not only more recent genocides, but also such issues as climate change; while comparing such losses to the potentials of man present on Earth now, as exemplified by Dr. Hawking. I hope Mr. Shatner’s words become available for fans and the public. What he said really could get the attention of a lot of people. Bravo, Mr. Shatner.

THANK YOU, that climate change reference made my heart glow — “Houston Street will be under water” sent shivers down my spine. Peter Weller made references to the climate crisis as well. I was lucky enough to talk to Nick Meyer after the DSC panel and ask him if he planned to incorporate a parallel to climate, given his work with self-induced apocalypse on The Day After, which he told me he considers the most important thing he ever did. I looked him in the eye and said, “If the world needs hope on anything in the 21st century, we need hope on climate change.” He said he’d tell the writers, so who knows, maybe we’ll see a nice little parable there. Lord knows we need it.

I’m incredibly jealous of this event. BECAUSE it has DESTROYED the Trek Track at DragonCon Atlanta two years in a row…… it’s great that all the stars congregate in NY but im not there…. why did they have to steal dragoncon weekend away from me. lol

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