Thursday at the big Star Trek convention featured a wide variety of celebrity panels, including Nichelle Nichols, John deLancie, Robert Picardo, Jeffrey Combs. Casey Biggs, David Gerrold, Martha Hackett. and Chase Masterson. We have details and photos from their appearances and more in our first daily recap from the con. We also have the results of the fan pick for ultimate villain from the first TrekMovie panel.
STAR TREK LAS VEGAS CON THURSDAY RECAP
By Anthony Pascale, Kayla Iacovino and Erica Anderson
Nichelle Nichols on meeting the president, fan dance and Star Trek VI racism
Original series star Nichelle Nichols was greeted to the stage at the Rio Hotel by a standing ovation. She began by talking about meeting president Obama earlier this year, saying that the president told her he had a crush on her when he was young. She also noted that "he’s a Trekker to his heart." Apparently the photo they took together is also being used in voter registration efforts.
Talking about her time on Star Trek, Nichols said that she created relationships in her head between Uhura and other characters to help her fill in the background for Uhura and that helped her perform the role and stay in character especially when she was in the scene but had no lines. Regarding her famous fan dance in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the actress talked about how much she loved being able to do her own version of Josephine Baker. As for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered country, Nichols revealed that she refused to say some lines which she felt were too racist.
John deLancie talks Q, Q Jr. and Bronycon
Star Trek’s Q John deLancie appeared at the con accompanied by his wife Marnie Mosiman (who guest starred in TNG’s "Loud as a Whisper"). The two seemed to be having a great time together on stage, and they both noted how good Star Trek has been for their family, with Marnie saying it was a dream for her to get a chance to appear in Star Trek. She also noted that their son Keegan auditioned three times for the role as Q Jr. so it wasn’t stunt casting.
For his part, papa deLancie says he wasn’t sure he did his best work in the episode with his son (Voyager’s Q2). He was focused mostly with his son’s experience for the episode. As for his first appearance as Q in the TNG pilot "Encounter at Farpoint," deLancie said he actually turned down the first offer for an interview for the part as he was busy with a play. However he did accept the second offer to come in and meet with Gene Roddenberry who told the actor "you make my words sound good." Marnie noted that deLancie and Patrick Stewart rehearsed scenes for "Encounter at Farpoint" on their patio, as she was about to go into labor.
Taking some questions, deLancie said there wont be any more ‘Q vs. Spock’ audiobooks, even though working with Nimoy was ‘Great fun." Same is true of the "Alien Voices" series. Regarding his stint on Stargate, deLancie said he thought it his character was "ok, but not fully developed."
The actor also took some time to talk about the successfully Kickstarter funded documentary "Bronycon: The Documentary" about a My Little Pony convention. His connection to the series was based on a voice he did for it once which he "promptly forgot about," but then he found he was getting inundated with fan mail for it. This lead to a friend suggesting he do the documentary. (more details on the doc at Kickstarter)
Robert Picardo talks science, Voyager opera and ‘killing’ Stargate
Star Trek: Voyager’s holographic Doctor Bob Picardo spent much of his time on stage talking about his support for space exploration, including how he recently appeared with Billy Nye the Science Guy at Planetfest. He even read a poem "Why Viking Lander/Mars" by the late Ray Bradbury.
In getting around to discussing his role on Voyager, the actor revealed that he was the one that came up with the idea for the Doctor to become an opera fan, however the idea was initially rejected because there was a subplot on DS9 with Worf being a fan of Klingon opera. Regarding his character of Richard Woolsey in the Stargate TV shows, he noted that he was "a complete dick" when introduced on SG-1, but eventually he became more sympathetic leading to him becoming a regular on Stargate Atlantis for the final season, joking "I killed the franchise."
Biggs, Hackett and Combs on drinking, fave episodes, make-up + more
The first panel of the con was with three actors with recurring roles, Casey Biggs (DS9: Damar), Martha Hackett (Voyager: Seska) and Jeffrey Combs (ENT: Shran, DS9: Weyoun and Brunt).
Combs, who has the most Star Trek credits of the group noted that his favorite work as an actor was when he was on Deep Space Nine, but he is also proud of his recent work on the series Longmire. While he said he doesn’t have a favorite character from his time on Trek, he does "have a special place for Weyoun." The actor also delighted the crowd by reciting lines from each of his Star Trek characters. When asked what he would have liked to done if Enterprise had gone to a 5th season, Combs joked he would have "put Bakula in the brig" and he would have had "a very special relationship with the Doctor."
For his part,
Biggs joked that if they would make a new Star Trek TV show, he wants to be captain with Jeff Combs "in the kitchen." The actor noted that he initially thought he was just doing to do one episode and not end up with a recurring role for five seasons on DS9. One episode he regretted not being part of was the 1950’s themed "Far Beyond The Stars," which he couldn’t appear in due to schedule conflict, but he was glad he got to appear out of his Cardassian make-up as Dr. Wycoff ("Shadows and Symbols"). Biggs said that after talking with one of the writers at a bar one day they decided to turn Damar into an alcoholic, which he noted was very difficult because Cardassian kanar was made with Caro syrup, joking "go home and take a swig of that over and over and then try to pretend you like it."
While discussing her role as Seska, Hackett described her as a "world class character." When she was originally cast as a Bajoran for the show she had no idea that she would eventually end up being a Cardassian spy. However, she ended up enjoying playing the villain more as it let her "explore the dark side." While many actors gripe about all the prosthetic makeup, Martha "found it liberating."
David Gerrold talks tribbles, TNG bible, ‘appalling’ TOS Season 3 & more
David Gerrold, famous for writing our beloved "The Trouble With Tribbles" original series episode, took the stage this morning to a warm welcome. He was more than happy to show off his tee shirt, newly purchased in the vendors’ room, which featured the quote "Soft Tribble, Warm Tribble, Little ball of fur…" and noted, "I’m going to a taping of The Big Bang Theory next month, and I’m going to wear this shirt.
When asked about the origin of the idea for our favorite fuzz balls, Gerrold revealed that tribbles were inspired by the introduction of rabbits to Australia, which, with no natural predators, became an invasive species. The original name for tribbles, noted Gerrold, was "fuzzies", but in the end, "tribbles" was simply the best of a list of funny sounding words that seemed to fit the little furry creatures.
As a contributor to the Original Series and beyond (not to mention his role as the author of The Writers/Directors’ Guide to The Next Generation — a bible by which all TNG episodes were written), Gerrold had a lot to say about where the show went creatively. "At the time [when TNG began] we didn’t have NBC on our backs, and we thought we could do any story we wanted. Of course, it didn’t turn out that way." A shift in the stories of TOS also occurred, says Gerrold, during the third season, which in his opinion was "appallingly bad". "Meeting Abraham Lincoln in space or reliving the shoot out at the OK Corral isn’t exploring strange new worlds," said Gerrold, citing the show’s strange new direction as a reason for his leaving TOS.
Chase Masterson talks Trek co-stars & sings some jazz
The lovely-as-ever Chase Masterson charmed the audience today with stories and song. Her secret to looking so good? "I looked worse earlier so you’d say how great I look now," joked Masterson. She started the panel by retelling stories of working along side great actors like Bob Picardo on Deep Space Nine. "Bob did what no one ever, ever does in Star Trek," said Masterson, "he asked for a line to be added."
She also gave insight into her character, Leeta, and reminisced over the love story between Leeta and Rom. "Vulnerability and sensuality is a good thing to have," she said, "I love that Leeta was passionate, and I really liked the romance with Rom. We were written to be the ‘happy couple’ on television. Isn’t that great? We were like the Lucy and Ricky of Star Trek."
She closed the panel by singing a song from her newest album, which features Trekked-out versions of some of the most famous jazz songs.
TrekMovie Panel: Fans pick Borg Queen As Ultimate Villain
Following on from last year’s TrekMovie panel on picking the Best Captain (Kirk of course), this year we decided to have the fans debate the ultimate baddie. Various villains were discussed and graded on their charisma, intimidation/threat factor, their cunning and evil plans, and even their henchmen and organizations. After all the voting in the various categories, The Borg Queen came out on top as the big winner. Khan came in second with DS9’s Female Founder/Changeling bringing in the bronze.
Theatrical readings with Star Trek stars
In addition to the regular Star Trek celebrity talks, some of the stars also did some performing at the show. Armin Shimerman, Casey Biggs and Jeffrey Combs did a number of readings from Shakespeare. And in a separate event, DS9’s Rene Auberjonois and Voyager’s Ethan Phillips performed a comedy scene as their characters from Benson.
Much more coverage coming + livetweeting
More Star Trek Las Vegas 2012 coverage:
Keep your eye out for more reports coming over the weekend.
Photos by Andy Britton, Anthony Pascale & Kayla Iacovino