Notes From T O R O N T O T R E K V I I 7/23 - 7/25 1993
The Straight Scoop On Marina Sirtis
Gentleman George The Storyteller
This document provides highlights of the convention and the talks and Q&A by their honored guests from one fans pov.
There should be no spoilers here. But I would say though that if you have never seen Marina Sirtis or George Takei and plan to in the near future and don't want it spoiled for you, don't read this.
Toronto is a city diverse among its citizens, international in character and people, and on the leading edge in its use of technology for transportation, architecture, and communications (etc.). It is therefore a fitting site for what was a great Star Trek convention for fans by fans.
The con was two weeks ago and I've finally gotten this done. Hope it was worth the wait! I'll put details of the convention after highlights from the guests talks.
Marina is a thoroughly delightful, funny, vivacious, open, caring, sensitive, intelligent woman who genuinely likes and cares about the fans and star trek. Granted, she looked stunning and dazzlingly sexy and obviously spent a good deal of time on her appearance (though I think much of what makes her sexy is her personality). But this is just another part of her multifaceted personality, what I see as her great capacity to enjoy life and have fun. She enjoys expressing her femaleness a certain way, taking fun in how "bad" she can be in her manner and dress. Marina calls herself the "queen" of the TNG convention circuit (She joked that Siddig El Fadil was going to be the "queen" of the DS9 cons, but not meant in *that* way...). She really gets into it. She has a wonderful body, a sharp mind, and a playful spirit, and knows how to use them. What this adds up to is her "presence", her "real life" stage persona as she presents it and also as I think much of her really is. Marina is down to earth, entertaining, and provocative, and not at all what one would expect from Counselor Deana Troi of Star Trek.
In the closing segment of her talks, she playfully berated those leaving early (for the autograph line) and said that everyone would get an autograph, that she doesn't cut the line off. This is rather nice because that's the way it used to be in the old days. Back then they signed for everyone regardless of how long it took. Now after an hour or 150 people they leave. However, since her line was always the longest and to accommodate everyone there, she didn't personalize them or chat much. Just signed it and on to the next. But she was nice and said hi. :-)
I should also note that Marina strenuously objects if she sees anyone videotaping her.
I'm going to start from the end of Saturdays talk because its so nice (I'm sorry, I'm just NOT a cynic. My apologies to all you cynics out there!), and then back up to the beginning. Some of it may be repeats from what other people wrote in the past. Sorry but that was a while ago.
M: "Before I go I do want to say one thing. And I know that in my hour up here I've been a bit disrespectful sometimes about Star Trek and made fun of it and of myself I hope too. But I do want to say it is the best that ever happened in my life. Totally the best thing that ever happened in my life. And the people that I have to thank for it actually is you. Because you watched the original show in reruns for 20 years. And made the making of Next Generation a viable proposition to the studio. So I want to thank you for watching for 20 years. I want to thank you for my job, and I want to thank you for my house, and my car (laughter), and the Harley Davidson...we actually don't ride it anymore since my husband broke his leg but we still do polish it and look at it in the front yard. Everything I own I owe to you. I don't think you realize exactly what you mean to us as actors."
Someone yells, "throw us a party!".
M: "Throw you a party. I wish I could, I wish I could. I just want to say from the bottom of my heart, I love each and every one of you and god bless you all."
(Applause.) Why does she say this and does she mean it? There was a cut in the video room of Marina on Joan RIvers, who asked her does she like England or America better. Marina said she loves America, that in England she was poor and there was nothing for her there. Here she is Cinderella, and all her dreams have come true. In one of her talks this weekend she said it was very hard starting out as an actor here, admitted she'd done some terrible movies to get work. An actors life is rough and so with this unusual success I believe she really means it.
The opening to Marina's hour was very surprising and quite funny. She did this both days.
M: "Hi Toronto. .......OK, who didn't know I was British? ......What we're gonna do is, we're going to do photos first because with the lights and the flashing at some point I will just go blind, fall off the stage, and there will be a picture in the National Inquirer next week saying 'Marina Sirtis, legs in the air' and there'll be no mention of the convention, so let's do photos first. Everyone who wants a photo, now's your chance."
People were rushing and piling up to the front in great numbers. I was already there in front, you can be sure. At this point she turns around, puts the mike down and turns back and says, "And when I tell you to stop, you stop." And then she launched into every conceivable sexy girlie pose from Marilyn Monroe to Cindy Crawford, strutting her stuff around the stage and using the table as a prop. People were laughing hysterically and screaming and it was fucking funny as hell. Like I said, not exactly what one would expect from Counselor Troi. It was a damn media frenzy and I got plenty of good shots. :-)
M: "I'm not in the midwest now am I?" she said in response to all that. She stopped. "Sit down. Go sit down. Enough photos. You don't get as many pictures but they're better. ...(garbled)...can blow them up to life size and I won't ask what you do with them in your room!
....So I will tell you anything you want to know about anybody else. OK?! But then, you mustn't write to that person (or the next time they come to your convention) and say 'Mr. Dorn! Mr. Dorn! Marina says you've got no taste in furniture!' because I get in trouble. At those points I just want to go wherever that person said that and drag them by the scruff of the neck and then make them face a surly klingon at 5:30 on a Monday morning. So keep it to yourself! Now Ill give you a clue as to when its a secret. Right. I will say, 'this is a secret.' " .....
...."Do we have any Deana Trois here today?" At that point she made several girls dressed as Deanna get up on stage with her and pose for photos.
"Pictures!" ...."OK. You look great. I get the biggest kick out of that I do have to tell you that you went to all the trouble to look like my character."
Q: Could you just say one line?
A: OK, I'm going to say one of the classic Troi lines and then I'll tell you a little story afterwards.
Q: He's hiding something.
A: I was just gonna say that. I was going to say (her Troi voice) 'Captain, he's hiding something'. Now last time I said that, Patrick Stewart, who obviously wasn't in a very good mood that day, turned around and said to me, 'We know that you stupid cow!' (uproarious laughter) but there's more, 'You waste of space!' And, because all the boys are scared of me, he went and hid behind Brent. So I got up and said, 'Excuse me your majesty, I don't write the lines, I just say them! OK?! And there's no point in hiding behind Brent because he doesn't really have superhuman strength.' And then I gave him a slap!
Q: Michael Dorn said that Deana and Worf had a certain animosity towards one another around a certain incident that happened in The Child episode.
A: This is something that I kind of made up about The Child. It was meant to be a joke. Right. But it did kind of develop into this semi- kind of animosity between Worf and Troi. And that was because Troi felt that Worf wanted to eat her baby.
I said this as a joke in a convention. Lord knows what happens, Peter David the author is there and he puts it in one of his books. So I'm very careful what I say now at conventions because it could end up in a book somewhere.
No, now they're friends and of course now Worf wants to, you know, have a thing with Deana Troi. Alexander wants him to. And if Michael Dorn has anything to do with it you know it would happen. If I have anything to do with it well don't hold your breath Michael. ....I'm not that bloody desperate!
The original Fistful of Datas was actually a scam by Alexander to get his Dad and Troi together. But they changed that in the final script. But I know that Michael does this....uh...like thing at the conventions where he has this whole scenario...where he and you know....Riker...share Troi. And Worf kind of goes to Cmdr. Riker every now and then and says (Worf voice): 'Have you finished with her, sir?'
Q: I have something for you. (Presents her with a drawing of Troi from the shoulders up but the shoulders are bare.)
A: Oh, thank you. Now what is this? Oh, that's lovely! ......where are my clothes?!....over there....(laughter) Thank you very much. (some of these you had to be there)
Q: Do you really like chocolate?
A: Uh huh.
Q: And is it true that Michael Dorn has no taste in furniture? (laughter)
A: Yes, I am a chocoholic. And I prefer my chocolate in the form of like chocolate cake. Rather than like bars of chocolate. (I can see how the ubiquitous use of the word "like" has completely penetrated everyday use of the language where it like doesn't really belong. I'm like guilty of it too though! : ) If you're gonna buy me chocolate...dark chocolate OK?
They didn't ask me you know if I like chocolate. They just wrote it in. I could've been allergic to it for all they knew. But they just wrote it in that Troi is a chocoholic and it just so happens that I was. And to be honest if it's really good stuff I can eat about two pounds....(garbled)
And yes Michael Dorn has no taste in furniture and I know that because I have to go furniture shopping with him. Otherwise he would fill his house with the kind of furniture my mother would like. ....Yes he does....but you mustn't tell him that.......
I was told that there are some kind of real, die hard, ardent like original Trek fans here in Toronto?! I don't call it Classic Trek OK, cause what does that make us? Diet Trek?!
Q: Is there a seventh season?
A: There is a 7th season. We're back at work already. You didn't know that? (much clapping) And uh, no one died. (some people say awwww) What do you mean aw? (someone yells something about Wesley) Oh, we got rid of Wesley years ago. What are you worried about?! (loud yays and clapping)
Q: Are they gonna settle the relationship between you and Will Riker?
A: Ooooohhh. You know one day I'm going to get through a convention without being asked this question. OK, well this is a long answer so kind of sit down if you're standing up. The relationship between Troi and Riker, bearing in mind that these are all my opinions, this isn't like law, this is my opinion, Troi and *Commander* Riker cannot be involved because basically they set it up that Cmdr Riker is the stud of the galaxy.
Like Kirk. ....And if he was involved with Troi, he really would not be *available* if you like, to schtup the bimbo of the week. So, forget about that relationship. Jonathan and I play a lot of stuff, and it all ends on the cutting room floor. Because we would like there to be able to be a relationship. And we actually think they made the wrong spin-off. Forget DS9, it should've been "The Riker's in Space." And wacky uncle Data was already going to do 7 or 13 episodes.
OK, forget about that. Then of course we have *Lieutenant* Riker....he's cuter isn't he?! How is that possible? He's cuter. Again, in the original script we killed him off. But then I think they realized, oh wait a minute, we've got some love interest for Troi now. Keep him alive. So they sent him off to the Ghandi. And we'll probably meet him again very soon. Which I'm happy about. I like that episode actually.
(that scene where she pushes Lt. Riker down and kisses him)....my husband hated that scene. He hated that scene. He was like 'Was your mouth open?'
OK, who didn't know I was married? Which of the guys is upset that I'm married? (show of hands) .....well, life's a bitch but you'll get over it!
Q: Does anyone ever get you confused with Gates McFadden?
A: Well, no, they don't get me confused with her at all for obvious reasons. A, I don't sound like her, B, I don't look like her, and C, I'm really not very nice and she's great. You know?
Q: (Something about the new uniform and did she have any say in that?)
A: I hate to disillusion you but no I had no control over that. Basically the only person really who has any power on the show as an actor is Patrick. The rest of us just kind of turn up for work, learn our lines and try not to bump into the furniture. That's about as much input as we have....
....(originally she didn't have the regular uniform cause she was 20 lbs heavier. Now that she's lost weight they think she looks better in a uniform.)
...(second or 3rd? season the other women left and Troi was the only woman left on the show.) Now Troi was never intended to be like, the chick on Star Trek. She was actually believe this or not, supposed to be the brains on the show. Hysterical isn't it really? Gene Roddenberry did say in an interview that she had the equal intelligence of Spock. ...unless he went into a decline recently...
So, I figured it out. I figured out that there's an equation in Hollywood. The equation is, if you have a cleavage, you cannot have a brain. So where Troi had a cleavage, she lost all her gray matter.
....(the uniforms in the past) the underwear was great. I had to wear a corset underneath. What I now call industrial strength regulation Starfleet brazier. I wore the corset because we're wrinkle free in the 24th century. Which is why all the boys do the Picard maneuver. (pretends to pull down shirt) Corsets work great. Cause they basically push everything up and down. ....What's happened is every female guest star we get on the show sees me in the morning as me. Then sees me as Diana Troi in my like you know...reupholstered (thingie), and they say: 'I want one of those bras!' We all wear them now. They're great. They add inches where there are none, and they save us all a fortune in cosmetic surgery.
....so One thing about wearing a spacesuit is....there's no cleavage! So guess what?! Troi got her brains back! Like in Timescape, she said: 'That's impossible. The Romulans use a quantum singularity as their power source.' And who did she say it to? Data and Geordi! I had to do a double take to make sure they hadn't developed a cleavage while I wasn't looking! It's great! and then she had a medical tricorder. And she knew how to use it! And she knew what was wrong with people! (she had made a crack earlier about how Dr. Crusher never knew what was wrong with anyone...)
Its great! Its great! And a phaser. I've got a phaser. And all these things happened as soon as I got my spacesuit. Because of course they remembered then that Troi was a Lt. Commander.
Q: My mother absolutely adores Michael Dorn. Do you have any gossip on him?
A: Yes. Michael Dorn is my best friend. So I know everything about Michael Dorn. Nothing happens in Michael Dorn's life that he doesn't pick up the phone and tell me about it.
Q: (something about him having children)
A: He has no children. He's unattached, available, free as the wind, and he has a black Porsche. What else do you want? (joking)
....I'm taking applications for Mrs. Dorn. I'm sick of cooking for him! I want him to get a woman that can cook for him and I can just cook for my own husband.
Q: Are there any plans for you to direct or (produce?)
A: I'm not really interested in directing in the next generation. I don't really want to be a director. Directing is a lot of hard work, you have to know everything about everything, and then really your face doesn't end up on the screen at the end of the day. So I really don't see the point. There are people who really want to direct, and if I did direct an episode, it would be on a whim, and it would be taking it away from someone who desperately wants to do it in life, like Jonathan. I think Gates is going to do an episode this year. Levar. They really want to direct. They should.
I want to produce. That's the *real* power. Directors are just basically traffic cops, they just say 'action' and 'cut', put that there etc. The producers have the real power. I will never be a producer of Next Generation, but I may be a producer of my own projects. That's what I would like to do.
Q: (something about next season being the last one.)
A: ....that's the plan and I'm not very happy about it to be honest. I like working ten months out of the year. It's great. And I love the Next Generation and I love the people that I work with and uh I'm quite sad that this is the last season.
Excerpts from Sunday:
On Sunday Marina was wearing a low cut white dress with blue polka dots and buttons up the front. A little more demure so to speak than Saturdays obligatory Marina wear of low cut, tight, black dress, black stockings, and black high heels. I'm telling you this cause it explains the next thing she said... ;-)
..... "Would anyone please tell me if any of my buttons pop open? OK? Because they've been stuffing me with chocolate since I got here and I'm getting a bit worried. This dress fit me on Friday. "
She told the audience that Patrick Stewart eats apple sandwiches.
The first guy up for questions asked her if she accepts roses from her adoring fans. She did and gave him a hug which set everyone off. Then later some kid gave her a necklace for which he received a hug and a kiss and set everyone off. Then later some guy asked a question and then uncertainly seemed to want to give her something. He went up but you couldn't see what it was and she jokingly remarked that he was going to shoot her. Obviously although a joke this must be in the back of their minds and make them somewhat nervous knowing there are cuckoos out there. Anyway he gave her this shoddy quickly made necklace cause he also wanted a hug and she joked about it but gave him a little one.
Q: Will Denise Crosby be coming back for any episodes?
A: Will you get off Denise Crosby for goodness sake?! She's dead! For goodness sake we killed her twice! That's the good thing about ST isn't it? You can die and still come back. So if I'm ever killed you know that its not my idea right, so write letters and get me back. Cause I'm not leaving. The only way that I'm leaving ST is with a boot mark on my behind.
Cela is still alive. That was a really bad Romulan wig wasn't it? (Crosby is doing other things now. She quit don't forget.) And you know, she's dead as Tasha. Tasha is dead. Right? Get over it!
What is it with those people? I mean why do they all have that stupid hair do? What is it in Romulans that barbers and hairdressers only learn one hair style? And does it only grow to that length and then it stops? I've renamed Romulus. Its the bad hair bad clothes planet!
Because they're shoulders aren't that wide. That's all padding. So I don't know why they need to have shoulders like...Linda Evans!
I actually want to thank you...The Face of the Enemy was the #1 show of the season. It got numbers in the stratosphere. So thank you fans because they're still reeling in Paramount.
Q: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
A: Yes. I have a brother and he's a professional soccer player in Europe. In Greece actually.
Q: Does Brent Spiner have a girlfriend?
A: Yes, he does. (But she's a recent girlfriend. So there's hope! (for her she meant.))
Q: Something about why didn't Patrick Stewart have her in his play Every Good Boy Deserves Favor?
A: I don't know why he didn't. He says he didn't ask me to be in that play because I was wrong for the part. But I don't buy that. And I didn't speak to him for about a month. And whenever I'm really mad at him I always bring it up and make him really grovel.
Q: Your accent in the show.....
A: Oh *that* accent.
Q: ....you've worked really hard at having an unidentifiable accent, its changed....
A: a lot
Q: ...a lot. I was wondering what you base it on and how you developed it.
A: And why its changed. OK, well I'll tell you. This is the accent story so make yourselves comfortable its a long story. What happened was, originally, when I originally auditioned for ST I was auditioning for the part of Tasha Yar and Denise was auditioning for the part of Troi. So would Tasha still be on the show if I had played the part? Yes! Simple as that. I really like Troi but um I wouldn't liked to have played Tasha for one reason. I would've been Worf's boss. And it would've made Michael Dorn nuts! He would be a nervous wreck loony case by now after six years of me being his boss.
But originally Tasha was supposed to be from Eastern Europe. You know, that's an original idea isn't it?! Who else was from eastern Europe? Checkov maybe?! So when I auditioned I used to do a kind of vague eastern Europe accent. There auditions in, we did six auditions, they switched Denise and I around because they said they sensed empathy in Marina that Troi needed. So they switched us around and we got the respective parts. And then they came to me and said, OK, well, you've got the job but you can't be British. Because the Captain's British. And in parenthesis, he's far more important than you!
At that time because I was so grateful to have a job I didn't want to say, excuse me, why should I do an accent he's supposed to be French? (joke about how in the 24th century there aren't any more French speaking people left in France. That tunnel obviously worked!) I said well, where do you want the accent to come from? They said, Betazet. I was a bit worried for about a minute. Then I thought wait a second, I can make up an accent! Who's going to tell me I'm doing it wrong? You know?! Hands up all the Betazoids in the audience...! Whoops! None.
So I made up this accent that was based loosely on a friend on mine's accent who's traveled a lot and you can't kind of pin down where she's from. Well then what happened was we met (Troi's mother) and she was American. And then we met more Betazoids, and we discovered that all Betazoids were American. So I went to the producers and I said, excuse me, where does my accent come from if it's not a Betazoid accent? And they said, uuuummmmm.....give us your fathers accent. And I said well where was my father from? (and they said) well, uummm, he traveled a lot. So I was a bit miffed about this because it was supposed to be a Betazoid accent. And I was beginning to get a lot of fan mail, and not being offered a lot of work and things because people thought I was foreign. You see and that I was like really foreign and I don't mean British foreign I mean like even further east than that...like France or something..... :-)
....so um What I did over the years....(lost some here) Troi would have her fathers accent. The way that Troi's relationship with her mother is set up, these two women obviously lived in the same house, right? And they shared the same kitchen and they got on each other's nerves. Because if they didn't live together they'd get on much better now. So psychologically (it occurred to me) it didn't make sense that she would have her father's accent and we could always say that she was brought up by her mother. So I've tried to change the accent so now, I've been watching second season reruns and I'm like oh my goodness I was really foreign in those days. And now I'm not. No producers have ever called me to take me up on it and as an actress, it behooves me to sound American than to sound you know Chekoslovakian. So that's why I did it and it's all been my choice.
Q: Something about when Brent Spiner being here last time.....
A: He was? Brent was here? Who saw Brent? (a few claps) Four of you?! Tickets were that expensive huh?
Q: Someone yells out it was a Creation Con but not loud enough for Marina to hear.
A: What? You had to have coupons?!
Q: (louder) He was at a Creation Con.
A: Oh. (jokingly) Oooohhhh. SSsssss. (some people also hiss.) Get over it you people! ....for them its a business. That's what they do to keep their families fed. So you mustn't be so hard on them. The one thing that I really get upset about in Trekdom...in our show we've set up that we are a much more nonjudgemental race by the 24th century and we accept people for who they are inside, not for what they're like on the outside, and all that prime directive stuff...right? And then you go around being really mean to other people! You mustn't! You mustn't! You must accept that everyone has his place in this world and people are who they are and they do what they have to do. OK?
And just because you're a fan...like I get a lot of stuff like: 'we hate you because we love Beverly' or 'we hate you because we love Tasha'. Why can't you love everybody? I do.
Both days she did a version of that closing speech I put at the beginning.
Excerpts from Saturday:
George walked onto stage and held his hand up in the Vulcan Live Long and Prosper greeting to everyone.
"Its good to be here in Toronto with so *many* people. This is absolutely amazing, this huge gathering. I'm told the committee has planned for 4000 people over the weekend. And I can see why. It's a huge space here and its already an incredible number of people here. But then this is part of the Star Trek phenomenon, isn't it? The most incredible things become quite credible. And I must say I am so grateful and thankful to all of you, well I shouldn't say all of you, I know that a good number of you are the original discoverers of Star Trek back in 1966.
......and here it is now 1993, 27 years since Star Trek first premiered back in 1966. Its an absolutely (unprecedented unbelievable something). And we're all very grateful to all of you for having made this thing happen. As I always say to people its true Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek and we all played a part in it, we actors, the writers, directors, but this phenomenon of Star Trek was created by the fans. It is their doing. They are the owners of this phenomenon. And they are the ones who are going to be the keepers of this phenomenon going as well after we're all long gone from the scene. And it really makes you think of this incredible thing that you have brought. You have given us an absolutely undreamt of series of gifts.
Particularly the 25th anniversary 1991 was a memorable year. So filled with things that were never, never even dared dream about. ....back in 1965, this is my 28th year because we shot the pilot back in 1965. And uh I said to Jimmy Doohan way back then with this series that we're going to be working on, with this concept, and with the kind of vision that Gene sees, and the kind of people that he's brought together for this series, I smell quality. And that means we're in trouble on television. Because television is known for cutting quality off very quickly. And I said at best with luck we're going to be on for two seasons. Well, little did I know, now here we are into our 3rd decade. So this unpredicted, undreamt of phenomenon we all owe to you.
And that year 1991 is a wonderful gift that you gave us. I think of so many things I'll never forget that year. For example, the centerpiece of 1991 was ST VI, The Undiscovered Country. And I must say this gift was not undreamt of but now as a matter of fact not only did I dream about it, I actively lobbied for it. And you gave it to me. The starship Excelsior now has a brand new captain. (wild applause) It was wonderful...playing that role. (talks about him playing the captain and people clapping for him in the movie theater.)
But one of the most memorable gifts that you gave me that year back and prior to the opening of (that movie) ....all seven of us gathered at a historic landmark in LA, in Hollywood, the legendary Graumann's Chinese Theater that they now call Mann's Chinese theater. .....he designed in, a forecourt where the audience can gather either before or after (story of how it got started with start's autographing the concrete).And thus began a hallowed Hollywood tradition.
I was born and raised in LA, I'm a native angelino, and as a child I remember my parents taking me to the Chinese theater and placing my hand in the hand prints of Hollywood legends like Clark Gable and Gary Cooper, and really having a grand time comparing my hand with those legendary stars.
Well, in 1991, a few days before the opening of STVI, we all gathered, the seven of us in Star Trek, gathered behind the theater, (and it was quite crowded). We were gathering to have our square in Mann's Chinese Theature forecourt, to be a part of this Hollywood tradition. They had hired the USC marching band to lead this parade down Hollywood Blvd., they had convertibles for all of us, and so we gathered back there. Right before we got into our cars, the publicity man from Paramount came for last minute instructions, (basic things) ....but he emphasized, particularly, he said, because we want to get all seven of you on this....square concrete..., we've run strings across the concrete so that no one writes too big and there wouldn't be enough space left for the other people. So we're supposed to write in our square and our square only. And, because space is limited, we're to write our names down, our autographs down, and only that. I thought that was strange. But we were all in a rush to get on with the ceremony so we were hustled back into our convertibles.
And the parade started and it was a wonderful, wonderful, heady, dazzling experience to go down Hollywood Blvd. with everybody cheering and the band playing and all. We got out of our convertibles and the honorary mayor of Hollywood greeted us and we all gathered, had pictures taken. And then Bill, of course, led off and he went down there and wrote William Shatner very dutifully and only that.. (Then Leonard went down and just wrote his name.) Deforest Kelley went down and wrote Deforest and misspelled his own name! He left out an "r". And when you go and visit there you'll see that extra R squeezed in. But he too only wrote his name.
And I was suddenly beginning to feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I realized that I was the only native Angelino there. Everybody else was from someplace else. Bill and Jimmy are Canadians. (Bill from Montreal and Jimmy from Vancouver.) So Canada is well represented in our cast. Leonard is a Bostonian. Walter is from New York city. Nichelle is from Chicago. DeForest is from Georgia. And I am the only native Angelino. I am the only one who should know that tradition and heritage. And I suddenly felt a great, great responsibility on my shoulders.
Well, my turn came, I went down, (signed his name) and I put my stick down and I thought: What could they do to me? :-) They wouldn't *erase* it! .And so I got my hand and went SPLAT! Bill Shatner was right behind me and said "George put his hand in! I want to put my hand in too!" And he came running down and went SPLAT! right beside his name. Then that triggered the floodgates and everybody came running down and went splat splat splat Leonard Nimoy always thinking, he put his hand down (puts his hand up in the Vulcan live long and prosper gesture and everybody laughs and claps). So you'll all have to visit Hollywood and make a pilgrimage to the Chinese theature. And you will see Leonard's hand like this and DeForest's misspelled autograph. But please remember the tradition has been maintained because of one very responsible individual!
And then another absolutely unforgettable gift you gave us. All seven of us gathered again a few months later. This time on the east coast at another national institution, the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian for again another historic event. The 25 Years Star Trek exhibit at the (museum). We gathered for the opening of that exhibit. However, you know in Hollywood when we have an opening, a premier, that's it. Then the show begins. In Washington it seems they do everything in triplicate. They don't have one opening, they have three openings. They had the first contributors opening --the people that contributed big bucks in support of the air and space museum and the Smithsonian. And then they have what they call the Congressional opening where all of the political leaders are invited and their staff people for another opening. Then they have a press opening because the press are very important in Washington. And then it opens for the general public.
Well, the first opening, the contributors opening was very elegant, very posh but rather boring. The second opening I found very amusing. And also very revealing because we see all these distinguished politicians, senators and congressmen, you know you see them on TV looking very either powerful or distinguished or intelligent and so forth. Well, I made a discovery or two about what they're really like on that congressional opening. A good number of them are not Trekkers, they are...TREKKIES! Gagagoogoo wild eyed Star Trek fans!
And probably the most rabid of them was again a combination of offices. How many of you know that senator of Vermont Patrick Lahey (?) looks like? He's tall, very distinguished almost professorial looking, bald head with glasses, he's always very sober and he's got his wit about him, but he's a very effective senator and representative for the state of Vermont. Well, it turns out he is the number one Trekkie in the Senate! He had a whole collection of those cards. ...in his vest pocket. And he had to get every one of us to autograph them. He was going around all over...getting us to autograph them and he couldn't find Walter Koenig. He was going mad, dashing all over that reception looking for Walter. Because his collection would not be complete without Walter's autograph. And he had two staff members there with him, he had them fanning out all over. I think they found him in the men's room later. But he did find him and he did complete his collection! He said this was a great opportunity and he wasn't about to lose that and so Senator Patrick Lahey has his complete collection.
Another event that happened at that Washington event that I was so impressed by...(happened at the press opening. There was a large press conference for this opening. Everyone was there. The curator, Mary Henderson, was asked by one reporter) 'This museum is a national institution. Here we have real artifacts from the history of human exploration of air travel and space. We have the real Spirit of St. Louis here. We have a real chunk of the moonrock. We have REAL artifacts here. Why should a piece of entertainment, a television show, a movie series, why should that be so honored here in this national institution?' Her response was...she said, 'yes, you're absolutely right. We have these real artifacts. They're here not just to be warehoused. They're here because they symbolize what we have achieved up to this point, but they also are here to inspire a whole new generation to know where we have to go from here. That we do have a future. And Star Trek has a place in this institution because ST in its way has played a part in inspiring a new generation of young people. Not only to be awed by what we've achieved, but to say yes, there is a place for me to do something, to contribute in this continuum. And many have become...committed their educational programs to the technology areas to the science areas, astronomy. Many have become scientists or science teachers. Many have become engineers or technicians. And some inspired by ST have become astronauts, actively involved in that exploration. So yes indeed ST played an important part in our being here and will continue to inspire a whole new generation so that we can forge ahead and recognize that our real frontier is up there.'
I was very moved by that response that she had. And when I saw the exhibit I realized that she truly understood what Star Trek is all about, and the meaning of ST and why ST has lasted so long that we were celebrating a 25th anniversary. And again another benchmark was set. This exhibit which was in itself a landmark became the single most popular exhibit that the Smithsonian had ever put on. It was supposed to be there for 9 months. They extended that for another 9 months. Doubled the run. The demand for tickets was incredible, the lines in front of the Smithsonian every single day was greater than the registration line here at this convention. It was again another eye opening experience. And so this gift is also something else that you gave us that I will never forget. It was an absolutely unforgettable event.
There's one more event that happened that year and its a convention. This was a convention to beat all conventions. It happened in LA. They called it the 25th Anniversary convention. It was held in the largest theature in...the second largest in the US, the Shrine Auditorium in LA a huge, huge venue. It holds over 6000 people. And all of us involved with ST were participants in that convention. And in the audience were people not just from North America, but from all over the planet that were affected by ST in one way or another. ....People from all over the world gathered in LA at that huge convention. Very appropriately it was a tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man who had created this phenomenon. Because Gene over the past year before that, preceding that had been assaulted by a series of strokes. And it was a very painful process for us to have to witness and share.
Gene was a policeman when he was a struggling young writer in LA. He moonlighted as a writer. But he was a beat policeman. Gene walked with those strong, purposeful strides of a policeman and of a big man, he was a physically big man. After the first assault, his speech got a little slurred. And then a series more of those attacks and he was walking like an old man with that kind of shuffely step and he had to have a cane. But by the time of the convention, Gene was reduced to a wheelchair, that great massive frame was in a wheelchair when he was introduced. And he was wheeled on out onto that huge stage by his son, Gene Roddenberry Jr., or Rod as he's more affectionately known. The minute Gene appeared on that stage, in unison, that entire huge auditorium of 6000+ people got up and the applause was deafening. And it continued and kept rolling down onto that stage this expression of love, of gratitude and of tribute to Gene Roddenberry for his achievement and what he's given us.
There he was rolled to the center of the stage and the applause kept coming and coming and coming, in waves it continued to come. And I looked at Gene to see how he was taking it. At first I got a little alarmed because I saw his arms shaking like this...hanging onto the wheelchair armrest, and I wondered why his son wasn't doing something to help him. And then I realized his head was going like this, he was urging him to back off. And then I realized what he was trying to do. By sheer strength, he had his strength in his upper body....(not his legs)...and he had that Gene Roddenberry will and so by sheer muscular strength and that willpower that he had he was trying to force himself up by his arms to rise and acknowledge that fantastic ovation that he was being accorded. He didn't want to receive that sitting down. It was his way of saying thank you very much and I respect you. And it was the most painful process to watch because it seemed to take forever and a day his arms shaking like that. But he rose to his full height to receive that ovation.
That's the kind of man that Gene was and for me I will never forget that site of him standing there with his arms supporting him on the armrest of the wheelchair to receive that applause. That will and that grace is what Gene stood for. It was that that made it possible for him to get that impossible project called ST on the air. And it was that determination and will that kept it alive and going, in concert with your efforts, that created that incredible phenomenon and that incredible event, the Silver Anniversary convention. It spoke majestically of the spirit of the fans to see them standing there.
Two months later he was gone and I'm so glad that we had that opportunity to express our appreciation to him and for him to know how much he's loved by so many people throughout the world. And although Gene may be no longer with us physically, (this) legacy is one that will continue with us for a long long time. As long as you folks are here, as long as people can share in that vision that positive, affirmative, optimistic vision of our future, Star Trek will live. And I think its very appropriate that that greeting that, of the Vulcans, that's now become our greeting, that is the greeting of the people involved in ST. Live long and prosper is our way of greeting each other because Gene Roddenberry's legacy will indeed, live long and prosper. And these are some of the wonderful gifts that you gave us that 25th anniversary year that I will cherish forever as long as I live." (wild applause)
George thanked everyone. There was Q&A which I don't have time to transcript now. But that was the main part of his time. On Sunday he told a story of how he was going to England with Shatner for the opening of a monorail but almost didn't make it because he lost his passport and a whole lot of other crazy things that happened.
At end of his segment on Sunday four provocatively dressed females in futuristic black, I don't know if they were Klingon women or what, they called themselves "The Bitches From Hell", came out and made a presentation to George. They presented him with gifts and one asked to be his consort. He agreed and they took on names which sounded Klingon (so maybe they were Klingon women??) something or other. It got a little out of control and people loved it....
This is just a few of the things that were happening.
They had built a fantastic full size mockup of the bridge with cool flashing lights and the whole thing. People could have their photo taken by friends while sitting in the Captains chair.
Friday night the "Not Ready For Starfleet Players" presented a play called "Khanfrontation or the Mirth of Q" which was quite funny and entertaining. They featured actors playing Picard and Kirk who spoofed the mannerisms quite well. The guy who played Khan would go into this schtick about how he wanted Kirk to suffer, the way...he....suffered...the way....she .....suffered. Throughout an opportunity would arise and he would launch into this and by the end the audience was yelling it out with him on Q. :)
Fri night and throughout they had Filking, "the music of SF fandom."
Saturday had a talk from a local astronomer, a panel discussion in a packed room on DS9 and what was it that was good and bad and was it Trek?, Dr. Who panel, brunch with the guests, talk by Canadian astronaut, panel on computer bbs's, Barbara Hambly reading, guest speakers and autographs, panel with L.A. Graf (two women who write SF and Star Trek novels.) on the business end of writing SF, art auction, and the masquerade.
The masquerade had many incredibly well done costumes. After they all spilled out into the halls and posed for photos with people. It was wild. I overheard some folks saying how they hadn't seen such a wealth of really good costumes in other places. They said many of the folks were artists who spent all year designing and putting together costumes. In fact, throughout the con there were tons of people decked out as Klingons, Starfleet, Timelords, Vulcans, you name it. I noticed that while the Klingon men looked like Klingons, a number of their klingon women resembled heavy metal chicks with the revealing and scanty clothes. At this point I figured that the Klingons were the metal heads of the galaxy. All they needed were some guitars and Harleys....
Sunday there was a charity auction, writers workshop with Barbara Hambly, Do Who stuff, talks and autographs again, and what not.
The dealers room was huge and there was tons of stuff to be had. I found some cool earrings. In the main halls were tables with various organizations, many of them Canadian Trek groups both Federation and Klingon. One of the Klingon groups is called KAG\Kanada. Aside from dressing up as Klingons and speaking Klingonese and terrorizing the locals, they do a lot of charity work.
There were plenty of pamphlets for upcoming cons. There's one being organized to usher in the next century that is to last a whole year.
Security was well run and organized and quite visible and ubiquitous as the "red shirts" (I wonder if any of them bought it... :-) in red convention theme shirts (they really got into it considering that when Marina came out they lined up in front of the stage like security at a rock concert (I think they were joking since they left after she came on), and seven of them surrounded George in his "trek" from the ballroom to the autograph tables in wheelchair), and the convention committee members and staff wore blue. They all wore sophisticated walkie talkies like the police used. I don't know how things were from the inside, but to me the average goer given the size of the event, the amount of people, and the number of events going on, it was well organized and run. Thank you to all those who made it possible and thoroughly enjoyable!
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