The final day of the 2015 Las Vegas Star Trek Convention had some great guests on stage, including Sir Patrick Stewart, George Takei, and DS9 and TNG cast panels. All that plus a tribute to the recently departed Grace Lee Whitney, a new look at the upcoming mobile game Star Trek Timelines, great cosplay of the day, and more!
Third DS9 panel discusses Game of Thrones, alcoholism, bullying
Sunday morning, for the third time this week, a group of stars of Deep Space 9 took to the stage of the Las Vegas Star Trek convention to entertain fans and share memories. Despite a lot of joking around, the assembled cast and fans also discussed the serious topics of bullying and alcoholism.
The only primary cast member this time was Alexander Siddig (Bashir), who brought with him supporting stars Andrew Robinson (Garak), Marc Alaimo (Dukat), Chase Masterson (Leeta), and Casey Biggs (Damar) – proving that “deep” stands for the deep bench of characters it had.
Doctor, doctor, give me some news…
Siddig’s participation in the HBO series Game of Thrones was of course a subject of conversation.
“Is there anything I can say about Game of Thrones that people don’t already know?” he started. “I don’t know what’s going on most of the times I’m watching, I certainly don’t know what’s going on when I read the scripts. … There’s a dragon woman and there’s a guy with a brass hand.”
He joked, “It shoots in Daenarys. No wait, that’s a person.”
One fan asked, “Can you see a time when democracy will come to Westeros?”
“I’m sure it’s gonna happen,” Siddig joked. “Next season I think.”
Siddig happens to be nephew to Malcolm McDowell, who played the villain of Star Trek Generations, and one fan asked him about several rumors: did McDowell try to talk him out of taking the role of Bashir on Star Trek and did he try to strong-arm his way into a cameo on DS9 if they let his nephew direct the episode?
“I’m happy you asked me that question, there is absolutely no way he would try to talk me out of being an actor” or take the role on Star Trek, Siddig explained, and that McDowell had no prejudice against the franchise.
“I think he has some good things to say about Star Trek. He just really enjoyed killing Shatner,” said Siddig, pausing for the crowd’s laughter. “Once he realized people didn’t like that he killed Kirk, he lost some control. And he never wanted to appear on DS9. That’s just a rumor.”
Halfway through the series, Siddig’s character was revealed to have been genetically modified as a child – something which came as much a surprise to the actor as it did to the audience.
“I think I found out on a Tuesday that I was genetically enhanced for a script that was going to be shot on Friday,” said Siddig, who did not appreciate the revelation. “I was furious actually. I didn’t think he needed it. He certainly didn’t need to become more like Data and I think that’s what they were trying to do.”
Apparently, the character of Bashir was not popular with the Powers That Be and the change was made in part to justify keeping him on the show.
“They wanted me off the show and [producer] Rick Berman defended me. They could see what potential the character had. If it hadn’t been for the relationship with this guy,” he said putting his arm around Robinson, “they would have gotten rid of me.”
According to Robinson, the on-screen chemistry between Bashir and Garak was mutually beneficial.
One of the greatest moments Robinson had on film, was in the episode Past Prologue where the two first meet.
“Bashir is really good looking. So as a character choice I thought, what the hell, why not go for it?” Robinson explained. “There is a close up of Garak where it looks like he could eat him alive. And I’m sure that’s why I got the job.”
The audience laughed. Siddig joked, “I gave Garak some of the best years of my life.”
Tackling tough topics
One fan talked about her efforts to fight alcoholism, and got applause from the DS9 stars when she shared that she was eight years sober. Biggs’ character struggled with drink as well.
“For some reason they loved the way I looked in Armin’s bar, and I was an alcoholic for four flippin’ seasons,” Biggs said. “I can’t tell you how happy I was that moment when I got to throw that frickin’ kanar in the mirror and never have to drink that — again!”
“When a person is an alcoholic, they usually don’t know or realize they are one. Once you realize it, you can start to make decisions,” said Alaimo, who noted that his mother was an alcoholic. “My mother didn’t, and it’s always been a part of my life. I regretted I wasn’t able to help her.”
Masterson discussed her work with the United Nations to combat bullying through popular culture, as Trek Movie has reported on before. She just cold called the UN one day and asked to join forces when she went to Comic Con and other events. They said, “We’ve always wanted to go to Comic Con!”
“We can really create a better world because everyone loves these stories,” she said. Masterson is also working on Doctor Who audio books with sci-fi legends Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy. She plays Vienna, An “impossibly glamorous mercenary assassin who has a heart of gold.”
Though Biggs started a minor character, he had the destiny of “A true patriot who dies for his country –and my buddy Garak avenges my death on that weasel Weyoun.”
Robinson quipped, “And Jeffrey coombs has never forgiven me for that!”
One fan asked Alaimo, “Did you intentionally put sexiness into Dukat or did it come naturally?”
“I had to overcome all the vitriol that this character supposedly carried with him. Playing a one-dimensional character isn’t really interesting,” Alaimo said. “There was no intention to it, it’s just who I am.”
“You’re very modest, Marc,” Siddig joked.
One fan went through the list of characters on the show that Bashir kissed, some of whom Siddig couldn’t remember.
“He’s desperate and forgetful,” Siddig summed up. “It’s the worst combination in a guy!”
Grace Lee Whitney honored
Sunday morning started with a solemn tribute to Grace Lee Whitney, one of several Trek stars who regrettably passed this year. Creation host Adam Malin and Trek historian John Tenuto discussed the actress’s life and her contribution to the Trek franchise.
Originally, Whitney’s role of Yeoman Rand was intended to the third rung of the Trek franchise, after Kirk and Spock, but that role eventually went to Dr. McCoy. Whitney appeared on eight episodes of TOS, plus four of the movies and the VOY episode Flashback, but she was a fan favorite at conventions for years. Tenuto said that DeForest Kelley taught Whitney how to make money on the convention circuit and Nimoy made sure she had roles on the movies.
In addition to her acting talents, Whitney was a gifted singer and had a career as a musician – which was a two-edged sword.
“Unfortunately those same environments that nurtured her musical talents nurtured her addiction to drugs and alcohol,” Tenuto said.
Whitney did eventually overcome alcoholicsm and drug addiction; they showed a clip of her discussing how her faith in God and the support of Star Trek fans helped her get clean.
John De Lancie presents new mobile game Star Trek Timelines on stage
Historically, Star Trek video games have been a real hit-and-miss affair. Game developer Disruptor Beam hopes to have a hit on it’s hands with “Star Trek Timelines”, a mobile-based game featuring many characters from throughout Star Trek’s 50 year history.
In a presentation on Sunday morning, Disruptor Beam CEO Jon Radoff and Q himself, actor John de Lancie, demonstrated the concepts behind the game and got into specifics about what kind of story and characters we can expect to see.
The game will take place during the TNG era in the Prime timeline and will encompass characters and ships from Star Trek’s entire history, from TOS through Enterprise. Radoff and deLancie kept the game’s premise under wraps, but hinted strongly that the events that set the game in motion are the work of a mischievous fellow from the Q Continuum. de Lancie said “think of me [Q] as the glue that brings the different shows together”.
One of the major conceits of the game is the ability to mix and match characters and to be able to put a “Star Trek Dream Team” together, so if you ever wondered what it would be like for Spock to serve as first officer under Captain Picard, this’ll be your chance. The game allow you to purchase additional characters as you go, which is what will help finance the game.
Radoff says that most mobile games tend to be superficial, but assured fans that they have a good story in store that is as much about puzzle-solving as it is about starship combat. de Lancie says he has “served as the fan’s proxy” to make sure that the game feels like Star Trek.
The game will be coming out in the fall for iOS and Android devices, and will use a dynamic rendering engine that will allow the game to run smoothly on both old and new devices. A beta release is coming “very soon” and anyone interested in encouraged to go to their website https://disruptorbeam.com/games/star-trek-timelines and sign up.
Mission Log Podcast talks Trek
The hosts of the popular podcast Mission Log, John Champion and Ken Lay, talked about the status of their quest to review the entire franchise, episode by episode, from the original pilot to the JJ Abrams movies.
After they finish that, they’ll start with “that really cool series that’ll come out some time in the next 11 years,” Lay said.
Currently the two of them are working their way through the third season of TNG, but relatively soon they’ll hit the point when DS9 started and there were two concurrent series.
“Now that we’re in season three with the really good storytelling, I’m excited!” Lay said.
The hosts announced that when that happens (mid season 6 of TNG) they will continue to finish Next Generation, then do their four movies, and then start with DS9. They will only start Voyager after finishing all of DS9.
“We want to tell the complete story of a complete crew,” Champion said. The defining feature of Mission Log is tracking how the philosophy of Star Trek developed over the decades.
“There is a streak of altruism that allows us [the human race] to survive,” Champion said. “We couldn’t all be here in a room with lights if we didn’t act in each others’ best interests.”
Photo from @Starfleetmom
George Takei… Oh My!
After missing out on last year’s con, George Takei made a triumphant return to the Vegas stage on Sunday afternoon.
He began his talk by noting that Star Trek will be celebrating it’s 50th anniversary next year, and reminded the crowd that this year is HIS 50th anniversary of his involvement with Trek, since he was cast in the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, in 1965. He said that he and Trek have “lived long and prospered.”
He spoke about Leonard Nimoy’s passing, calling it “a real loss to the Star Trek family”, and related the story about how Leonard fought to have George and Nichelle be a part of The Animated Series. George was effusive in his praise of Nimoy’s character, calling him “an extraordinarily decent human being”, and a beloved friend who is deeply missed.
He talked at length about “Allegiance”, the Broadway show he’s starring in this fall which is based on his experiences in the Japanese interment camps during World War II. He’s extremely excited about the way it’s turning out, and encouraged the audience to come to New York to see it. Previews begin October 6th, with an official opening on November 8th.
He used the talk of the show as a way to segue into discussing William Shatner. George told the audience that he has already invited Shatner to opening night, but doesn’t expect him to attend, since historically, “Bill never attends anything we do.” He went on to talk more about the controversy surrounding the invite he sent Shatner for his wedding to Brad Altman.
He says that Shatner invited him to appear on his now-defunct talk show Raw Nerve, but he declined because “I didn’t trust Bill to not be partisan”, and was afraid he’d edit it in a way that would only make him look good.
He closed out his time on stage by telling the audience the origin of his “Oh my” catchphrase (George had uttered the phrase after something shocking Howard Stern said to him on his show).
Sir Patrick Stewart Takes the Stage
The one and only Sir Patrick Stewart took the stage this afternoon to a packed house with a big, “Hello Las Vegas!”
He said that he always looks forward to visiting Vegas, particularly during Star Trek cons, as he gets to reunite with his TNG cast members. “Last night I had dinner with some people you know: Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn. Oh man, those guys lead me astray!”
“It was always like this,” he continued. “I just wanted to do the best job I could, but oh no no no. With them, it was always partyyyyy tiiime. And, you know what? I like it!”
The audience was also treated to some special sneak peaks at Sir Patrick’s new show, Blunt Talk coming out August 22nd on Starz. They screened the recently released trailer, plus some clips of Sir Patrick and his real life (and on screen in TNG) son, who also plays the son of Patrick’s character in Blunt Talk.
During audience Q&A, Sir Patrick was asked a lot of pointed questions by fans. He sheepishly admitted to not remembering many of the details, like having an associate producer credit on Star Trek: Insurrection or Kelsey Grammar’s appearance on The Next Generation.
“Kelsey Grammar was on Star Trek?? Is this true??” asked Patrick. To which the audience responded with a resounding “YES!!”
“This is so embarrassing,” he said. “You sure you’re not thinking of X-Men?”
One fan in particular had a hilarious exchange with Sir Patrick regarding his knighthood, Blunt Talk, and even his love life.
“First of all, I want to congratulate you on your knighthood and your new series,” she said. He replied, “Thank you. What about my wedding?” To which she incredulously responded, “You got married AGAIN?! Who is it this time?”
The conversation inspired a touching moment in which the two shared a hug.
The boys of The Next Generation have a blast on stage
The boys came on stage to a big round of applause and talked about their new projects. Jonathan Frakes has been doing a lot of television directing, including Falling Skies, The Librarians, and Hindsight. LeVar Burton is busy with his work on Reading Rainbow and the upcoming reboot of Roots. And, Brent Spiner is going to be reprising his role in Independence Day 2.
The three immediately started goofing off, running around the stage, lounging on the couches, and Frakes sitting behind the interview desk like a talk show host (which, subsequently prompted Spiner to do some of his Patrick Stewart impressions).
Eventually, the trio gave Sir Patrick, who was signing autographs to the side of the stage, such a hard time that he had to come up to defend himself.
JJ-Trek in Las Vegas
And, TrekMovie would like to give a big shout out to one of our favorite stars, Joseph Gatt, who single handedly represented the Star Trek reboot at the con in Las Vegas. Gatt played Science Officer 0718 in Star Trek Into Darkness and in the STID comics.