On Saturday, the third day of this year’s FedCon, Jonathan Frakes revealed he had been on the set of the new Star Trek movie, William Shatner filled not one but two rooms and talked about JJ Abrams not hiring him, while Gates McFadden told the audience about her heroes and said she hoped to join Wil Wheaon on Big Bang Theory. See below for full report.
FEDCON XXI SATURDAY
Jonathan Frakes reveals his Star Trek sequel set visit
In many ways Jonathan Frakes’ second appearance this weekend was a continuation of his first panel with the jokes and comedy, and with Frakes leaving the stage to roam through the audience and even with a sequel to yesterday’s question about "bedroom scenes". The actor-turned-director did however reveal a bit of information that was new: he told the audience that he had paid a visit to the set of the next Star Trek movie and had witnessed a scene with Chris Pine and the villain Benedict Cumberbatch, whom Frakes described as "awesome!"
Jonathan Frakes remembered how friendly DeForest Kelley had been to him when First Contact, Frakes’ debut movie as a director opened. He said that he was very nervous back then when he received a phone call from DeForest Kelley, who reassuringly congratulated him on a fine movie. Someone then indeed had a question about the bedroom scenes Jonathan Frakes seemed so eager to talk about yesterday and the actor summed up all the different species members that Riker had had relationships with.
Asked for a story from North & South, Frakes recounted how he fell in love with his wife during the shoot. According to Frakes, during a weekend trip to New Orleans some members of the company took the then 23-year old, innocent Genie Francis to a strip joint with male strippers, and she was appalled. "And the big flirt I was back then, I asked her if she would like me to get her out of there." Then the first challenge of the young love arose when Genie had an appetite for a grilled cheese sandwich at 3 o’clock in the morning. Frakes concluded: "And you know why we’re still together? Because I found her one!"
Shatner talks buying JJ Sushi, New Documentary Danny Crane & more
William Shatner’s outsized superstar status was underlined by the fact that where convention star guests usually fill one hall, on this evening Shatner filled two. William Shatner’s appearance in the main theatre in front of weekend-ticket holders was broadcast live to a second room where the day-ticket holders were seated. Although the FedCon booklet mentioned that this latter group might not be able to see the actor in person and have the opportunity to ask him questions, a number of people were not aware of this, which led to a bit of discontent. However, William Shatner was nice enough to briefly drop by the second room to at least say hello to those who would not be able to see him in person during his panel.
Shatner first told his audience about his latest projects, among them his his new documentary about conventions which will air later this year in Canada under the title "Fan Addicts" and in the US, where it will be called "Get a Life!" This title is based on his previous book "Get a Life!" about conventions and his discovery that people generally attend "to see each other, and not me – which I had thought all the time."
Shatner then took questions, answering them with grace and wit. Shatner admitted that he had never seen any of the Star Trek shows other than his own. He said he didn’t really know why but it might have been due to feeling jealous or envious. Asked about his idea for an appearance on Enterprise in a Mirror universe episode, he said he couldn’t remember the details. He did remember though having met JJ Abrams for lunch before they started filming Star Trek (2009). Shatner’s comment on that meeting: "I bought him sushi and he still didnt give me a job!" Leonard Nimoy of course did get a job in that movie, on which Shatner opined dryly: "I told Leonard: You’re old when you travel back in time and you’re still old."
Asked about how much William Shatner is part of Denny Crane, he described the character as a "befuddled old man" and joked that the audience would discover during the panel that he and Denny Crane have a lot in common. On a more serious note he then added "No matter how good the actor is, he can only bring himself to the role." and that – as someone who has had to exercise his brain regularly by learning lines and so forth – it was an interesting opportunity for him "to examine how someone’s brain got fried."
Shatner revealed that he had received an offer to appear on "The Big Bang Theory" but had turned it down. Asked why, Shatner replied: "It just seemed like something I shouldn’t do. It was an intuitive decision." A bit later, the actor elaborated on why the part that is closest to his heart used to be Captain Kirk but his heart evolved, Shatner said, and now it is Denny Crane because "saying something as Denny Crane required you to say it on three different levels and you would maybe catch two, certainly one."
Gates McFadden on friendship and inspiration – and hoping to be on ‘Big Bang’
Earlier on Saturday, Gates McFadden had entertained the crowd during her second time on stage this weekend. She started her panel updating the audience on her professional career. McFadden has been working as an artistic director at Ensemble Studio Theatre in Los Angeles for the last two years. There she actually directed Denise Crosby in one play and both women really got to know each other only then since they had hardly any common scenes during TNG’s first season.
McFadden found it a shame that the two of them didn’t get the chance to get to know each other better during Trek since both are sure that they could have been good friends back then. She regrets that the TNG writers didn’t include more material about female friendships in the scripts. In her opinion, this aspect was sometimes reduced to "going to the gym together."
A fun idea was brought up in connection with Wil Wheaton and his recent stints as an evil version of himself on "The Big Bang Theory": wouldn’t it be fun if Gates McFadden played his mother on the show? That prompted Gates McFadden, who loved the idea, to suggest that she as his mother then should be as nasty as Wheaton himself appears on the show.
McFadden’s time on stage ended with a discussion of her personal heroes and the women who inspire her. People like Judy Dench and Hillary Clinton inspired her, she said, in addition to her own mother. Her heroes include the Mercury 7 astronauts specifically and all people who dare to venture out into space and not just pretend to like she did as an actress. She herself would love to go into space for real once before she dies, McFadden said.
On Sunday William Shatner will appear a second time and Walter Koenig and Garrett Wang will take the stage together before FedCon XXI ends with its traditional closing ceremony.
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.