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Las Vegas Convention Report - Day One

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at August 5, 2003 - 10:33 AM GMT

Billed as "the wildest Star Trek convention ever", Creation Entertainment's Official Star Trek Las Vegas Convention last weekend boasted a galaxy of Trek stars, including William Shatner (James T. Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway), Armin Shimerman (Quark), Marina Sirtis (Marina Sirtis), Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed) and many more.

The first part of Kristine Huntley's report covers the events of Friday, August 1.

Marina Sirtis was first up on Friday. She beamed as she took the stage while the Next Generation theme music played, commenting, "It's still the coolest song". She updated fans on the latest activities of the TNG crew. Marina just finished two movies: Spectres with Linda Park (Hoshi Sato) and Walking on Water with Michael Dorn (Worf).

Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard) is performing in a production of Ibsen's The Master Builder in London, while Brent Spiner (Data) just completed the Broadway run of Life x 3 with Helen Hunt and John Turturro. Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher) is in France, while LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge) just directed a Christmas movie, Blizzard, with Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan) as the voice of the lead reindeer. Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) is directing Thunderbirds in England.

Marina turned to the subject of Nemesis next, chiding the audience, "I do have to chastise you a tad, because you didn't go to see Nemesis enough. The Next Gen cast is now retired". Marina also discussed her guest star role on Stargate SG-1, in which she played a Russian scientist. She was able to beat out her competitors by mastering the technobabble with ease. She joked easily with the crowd, at one point asking, "Who are these people?" when she spotted pictures of the Enterprise cast members on the Creation convention banner. She ended with a gracious thank you to the fans, saying, "I want to thank you from the botton of my heart. [TNG has] been over for nine years now, and you guys are still here."

Robert Picardo (the EMH) came to the stage next to introduce the new Star Trek: The Experience ride, Borg Invasion 4-D, set to debut in 2004. Bob, Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway) and Alice Krige (Borg Queen) will all star in the attraction. Bob then went on to perform two songs from his new CD, Extreme Bob. "I have a talent and a willingness to completely humiliate myself," he said.

Tim Russ (Tuvok) and Robbie McNeill (Tom Paris) joined Bob on stage to talk about their Voyager characters. Robbie, who directed the Enterprise episode, "The Breach", spoke about the experience. "I had a blast; we had great stunts. John Billingsley did a great job with Phlox and his story."

Bob Picardo fielded a question about his new show, The Lyon's Den, in which he plays the recurring role of a police detective alongside Rob Lowe (The West Wing). "He's really good looking, but not that much better looking than I am," Bob said of his co-star.

Tim took a slightly controversial question about how Vulcans were being portrayed in Trek today, especially in Enterprise. "I've only seen one or two episodes [of Enterprise]. The scenes [Jolene Blalock's T'Pol] was doing were rather subtle. There has always been some variation in how [Vulcan] characters are played. It may also have to do more with the writing than the acting."

Bob leaned over and asked Tim why he hadn't had a layout in Maxim yet, and without missing a beat, Tim responded, "They don't have enough pages in there. You asked, Bob." When the fans persisted with questions about Vulcans in the new show, Tim suggested, "You guys as fans must exercise your right of pen, or keyboard, and tell them how you feel." Bob added, "Please note that Tim and I said nothing."

In the other theatre, Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) read from his collection of true stories, Dancing Barefoot. One of the two stories Wil read detailed his first meeting with William Shatner during the filming of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Wil also mentioned he has another book, Just a Geek, coming out soon.

Back in the main auditorium, Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) took the stage to talk about the original series. She commented on the diversity of the crew, saying, "Gene got away with an interracial crew because it was set in the future." She also praised the uniforms, calling them both comfortable and pretty. Nichelle discussed reactions to her role in the movie Snow Dogs, and also the final book in her Saturna trilogy, which is scheduled to come out at the end of the year. At a fan's request, she related the now-famous story of her meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr.

James Doohan (Scotty) was up next. Fans applauded Doohan, whose health has been precarious as of late. Jimmy proudly said, "I made a lot of money the last time I gambled." When a fan thanked him for creating the Klingon language, he said, "I certainly did!" Originally Jimmy read for the part of Scotty with eight different accents, and he was very pleased they ended up choosing the Scottish one. "You have to be a Scotty [to be an engineer]!" he joked. Jimmy also talked about his war service and early years attending and then teaching acting classes.

Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) lept to the stage next. Describing Deep Space Nine with enthusiasm as a "comic book waiting to unfold", he described the audition process he went through to play Jake, competing with hundreds of other kids for the part. He also praised his on-screen father, Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko), referring to the "genuine bond we had off camera". Like Jake, Cirroc has writing ambitions, and even once pitched an episode to DS9's producers. Though the episode idea was ultimately deemed too close in theme to TNG's "The Game", Cirroc was grateful for the valuable experience.

Leonard Nimoy (Spock) was the final Trek star to grace the stage on Friday, and he shared his picks for most enjoyable episodes: "City on the Edge of Forever," "Devil in the Dark," "All Our Yesterdays," and "anytime I got to tangle with De Kelley". He also fielded a very serious question about his alcoholism, which he discussed in detail with William Shatner on the Mind Meld DVD. "It wasn't a conscious decision [to reveal the details]. Bill asked if it was ok to bring it up." He added, "I have not had a drink in fourteen years."

Next he went on to tell stories about the first Star Trek conventions, including a time when Bill Shatner told convention attendees that Leonard was out in a car outside — and everyone came to see, surrounding the car! When asked about whether he'd ever thought of directing an episode of Enterprise, Leonard said, "I thought about it, and then I sat down and let the thought pass. I am officially done with directing." Leonard's easy banter with the fans asking questions elicited laughter from the audience.

The dealers' room was also a popular hub throughout the day, with many exhibitors selling wares such as autographed pictures, books, videos, and action figures. Art Asylum was promoting some of their new lines of figures, including Mirror Universe versions of the original series characters. New Force offered a numbered convention exclusive version of Art Asylum's new Trip Tucker figure. Trip, in the standard uniform, is even more easily posable than his predecessors.

Part two of our Las Vegas coverage, featuring Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise cast members, will follow tomorrow.

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Kristine Huntley is a roving reporter for the Trek Nation.

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