We’ve wrapped up the second full day of the annual Las Vegas Star Trek Convention here at the Rio Hotel! With so many great things to see today, we could barely contain it all into one article. Learn about how the Smithsonian is restoring the 11-foot TOS Enterprise, be touched by a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, hear from your favorite DS9ers (some in costume!), Walter Koenig, and some of the TNG cast. Plus see today’s best cosplay including Star Trek minions!
Original Enterprise model is on course for bold new display at the Smithsonian
Maintaining the history of the future is no easy task, according to the group of experts involved in restoring the original model of the Enterprise for presentation at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
The panel, led by the Smithsonian’s Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, included Michael and Denise Okuda, Rick Sternbach, and super-fan/prop restorer Adam Schneider.
The 51 year old model hasn’t had a conservation process since the early 1990s. The current process, which is restoring everything from the lights to the paint job, is preparatory to the model be put on display in the History of Flight display of the Air and Space Museum along with artifacts such as The Spirit of St. Louis and astronauts’ space suits.
Schneider noted that such artifacts are, “with all due respect,” more important than a model from a TV show. When the audience gasped, he quickly correct that they were “perhaps” more important.
TrekMovie has covered the restoration process before and will continue to do so with additional in-depth reporting in the near future!
Walter Koenig Takes the Stage
Friday’s con festivities kicked off with the original Pavel Chekov, Walter Koenig. Walter, who came out on stage to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, was interviewed by Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz, who quizzed the Trek legend on a variety of topics and kept everyone entertained throughout.
The discussion started with Mantz asking Walter about his being cast on the series. Walter said he had limited knowledge of the series beforehand, remembering it as being “a show with styrofoam rocks and a guy gesticulating wildly.” He related the rather ignominious way he found out he had been cast as Chekov when a costume designer (presumably William Ware Theiss) led him into a room and starting measuring around his crotch, telling him “ ‘I have to fit you for a costume, you’re playing the part.’ That’s how I found out.”.
He found all of his cast mates to be very welcoming and pleasant, telling the crowd that “ DeForest shook my hand, Bill embraced me, Leonard…lifted his eyebrow.”
The discussion turned to William Shatner and his relations with the supporting cast and Shatner’s feelings that the actors developed an inflated sense of importance when they began to attend conventions and be cheered by the fans. Walter concedes that Shatner was correct, at least somewhat, saying that the Hollywood of the era embraced a division between the leading and supporting actors, and that the way they were presented in the credits and in other ways reflected that:
“We were taught that we were in fact supporting actors, and we were not to get the same kind of consideration, the same kind of attention, certainly not the same kind of money or prestige that the lead actors did. And Bill was right, in that regard.”
Walter said that kind of mindset made him feel very self conscious and not feeling like he really was a true part of Star Trek’s success. That changed, however, when the starting making movies.
“When we did the movies, I felt a little better. When we did Star Trek II, Star Trek IV, I said…now I feel like I belong.”
He touched upon his work on Babylon 5 as Alfred Bester and how he compared him to Pavel Chekov:
“Bester was a more complicated character, a more dimensional character. He was just great, great fun.”
Walter closed out his time by relating his joke/explanation (which we will not describe here) about how Khan recognized Chekov in The Wrath of Khan when he wasn’t in “Space Seed”. The story got great laughs and he left the stage to thunderous applause.
Tribute to Leonard Nimoy
This is the first Las Vegas convention since Leonard Nimoy’s death in February, and Creation honored the Star Trek legend with a two hour tribute.
The proceedings began with a series of photos about Leonard’s life, which was accompanied by onstage narration from Larry Nemecek, John Tenuto, and Creation’s Adam Malin. The photographs chronicle Leonard’s life from infancy through his later years, and contained many images never seen before. It was a touching, heartfelt tribute from all three men.
Up next was a video tribute, showcasing Leonard’s many Creation convention appearances through the years and showing what a truly thoughtful and giving performer he was. It culminated in Leonard’s final appearance in 2011 where he thanked the fans for everything, and acted as a perfect coda to the entire tribute.
Adam Nimoy then came out onstage to talk about his Dad, his own life and career, and his upcoming documentary “For the Love of Spock”.
He spoke of the trials and tribulations of growing up with a very famous father and the ups and downs he had in his relationship with Leonard, and how they grew “very close and connected” during the final years of his life.
He said he was a big sci fi fan as a child and loved Star Trek when it premiered, but grew to resent the grip the show and it’s fans had on his father, and how the demands of it affected how much time Leonard could spend with his family.
He describes Leonard as “passionate about his work” who sometimes put his career before his family in his desire to make as much money as he could while the show was popular. That all changed in recent years, when he made a point of connecting with Adam, his daughter Julie, and the rest of his family.
He then spoke about his upcoming documentary, “For the Love of Spock”, which he said was borne of a desire to get Leonard’s definitive thoughts on the character, to pay homage to both Leonard and his famous alter ego, and to tell the journey that he and Leonard went through together.
Adam has interviewed most of the original cast already, and they are now in the midst of collecting additional elements with an eye towards a January 2016 release.
The documentary crew was filming Adam during the panel, and at the end he asked us all to stand up, give the Vulcan salute, and say “Live Long and Prosper”.
Second group of DS9 glitterati warp into Vegas
Four more members of the DS9 crew took the stage Friday – Cirroc Lofton, Rene Auberjonois, Nana Visitor, and Terry Farrell – following a panel of their crewmates on Thursday, to update fans on the current projects they’re working on (and incidentally, celebrate Lofton’s birthday).
Armin Shimerman, who’d appeared on stage the day before, came as a guest and sat on the front row. (He didn’t have a badge, but you don’t ask Quark for his ID.)
On top of some voice work she’s been doing on Family Guy, Visitor discussed a two-person play she’s working on. It’s about an older actress who, in a moment of despair, turns the gas on and hallucinates that her cat begins talking to her.
Auberjonois joined her for a reading in New York recently and she thinks he makes a great cat.
“That’s my baby now,” she beamed.
Auberjonois shared the list of projects he has going on, including a lot of voice work, raising money for Doctors Without Borders, and several film projects, including one – The Blood Stripe – which was written and directed by his son, Remy.
A fan asked Auberjonois about his on-screen relationship with Majel Barrett Rodenberry’s Lwaxana Troi, which made for a couple tender episodes of the series. Auberjonois shared some kind words that she had given him when he did his first convention. To ease his anxiety about talking to the huge group of fans, she said, “They’re going to know more than you know and they’ll help you along the way.”
Participating in a school play about Martin Luther King inspired Lofton to pursue a career in acting. With his mom as his agent, he did some commercials and even auditioned for a role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. When he auditioned for the role of Jake Sisko, he was one of three finalists.
“One of the producers winked at me,” said Lofton, who wasn’t sure about the signal at first. “But it turned out to be good.”
Helping him take on the role was the fact that he “connected instantly” with Avery Brooks, who taught him a lot of stage tips and mentoring him personally as well.
“He taught me there was a responsibility we had to portray these characters with integrity,” Lofton said. “He was very conscientious about how black fathers are [often] absent in the home.”
Lofton enjoyed his participation in Star Trek: Of Gods and Men and would be happy to do more independent Trek productions.
Farrell discussed how she became an actress by way of her modelling career, which started when she was a junior in high school. A modeling agency she’d applied to let her know they were interested in her, so she ran into her parents’ room and jumped on their bed to share the news with them.
“It was the first time they didn’t get mad at me for being my crazy, Tigger self,” she said.
Farrell admitted she didn’t watch the final season of the series because she “didn’t like that I was playing a flawed human on Becker instead of a super-hero across the lot!”
The highlight of the Q and A section was when one fan asked Auberjonois about the episode Let He Who Is Without Sin, widely regarded as one of the weakest of the series, but the fan acknowledged, “There are worse episodes than that one.”
When the rest of the audience started to laugh at the reasonably impolite question (Auberjonois directed Let He Who Is Without Sin), he interrupted, “No no, go on. You fascinate me. This is the best question I’ve ever been asked.”
After citing some of the challenges of the episode, Auberjonois said, “Listen: we were lucky to get the dam shows done. On average, over seven years, it was pretty extraordinary work.”
The audience roared approval.
Rom and Nog on stage in costume and in character!
Somehow, Rom and Nog once again found themselves on Earth in the wrong spacetime continuum (their words) and on stage at the Rio. They entertained the crowd, in full screen-used costumes and makeup (yep, your favorite Ferengi buttheads), teeth, and all with some awesomely bad puns and funny antics.
At one point, Nog brought out his new squeezes, a couple of Dabo girls he picked up!
Rod Roddenberry Presents The White Room
Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry, took the stage to promote one of his latest projects that he describes as revolutionary in filmmaking.
It’s called The White Room, and it’s six strangers in a very futuristic white room and a single revolver on the table in between them. The revolutionary part, however, comes in how the short film was shot and how you get to experience it as a viewer. It was shot on a special 360° camera that allows the entire room to be shot at once, with all of the action happening at the same time. The viewer can watch on a portable device like an iPad or tablet (or Oculus viewer!) and motion tracking in the device lets the user look around the room by moving their device. You can try it out on your own device, it’s actually quite a cool experience.
The Next Generation Cast Panel
Marina Sirtis (the self-dubbed convention queen), Michael Dorn, and Denise Crosby took the stage during today’s TNG cast panel. The trio took the stage while rocking out to the house band playing a song about TNG. The two ladies particularly had some fun with the air guitar. “That’s an entrance!” said Denise.
There were some great questions from the fans in the audience this year. Jarrah Hodge of Trekkie Feminist asks of Marina, “I know that as Deanna you didn’t get to do a whole lot of counseling on the show. So, my question for you is, who would you say is the cast member most in need of counseling, and what advice would you give them?”
Marina pointed immediately to Michael Dorn, on her left, saying “Get over yourself!”
Michael Dorn was asked about his Captain Worf project that’s been floating around for a while. “I’ll know in a year,” said Dorn. “It’ll either be a yes or a no.”
Marina recanted an interesting story that she recently told on the Mission Log Podcast about how Denise leaving the show early on may have been the thing that save’d the character of Deanna. Gene Roddenberry felt there was one too many women on the cast and it looked as though Marina was on the cutting block. As soon as Denise left, however, that seemed to solver her problem, and Deanna went on to become a beloved character who got to see some nice development particularly in later seasons.
Today’s best cosplay!
Another day, another round of some AMAZING fan made costumes around the con floor. Check out our favorites, including Star Trek Minions, which definitely win our vote for best costumes of the day.
Photo by MrrWilly