Linda Park and Anthony Montgomery
Taking a weekend break from production of the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise were Linda Park ("Hoshi Sato") and Anthony Montgomery ("Travis Mayweather"), who had as much fun on stage as any celebs at the convention. At one point, while Linda was trying to answer a question, Anthony grabbed a camera and snapped pictures of the audience snapping pictures of him. Later when Linda received a gift bag from a fan, she flaunted it in his face: "I got Hershey Kiii-sses!" Linda nearly forced Anthony to perform some freestyle rap with her boyfriend, Tom Hardy — but he had disappeared from backstage. Another time, we hope.
Anthony had the audience rolling on the floor making a point about cellphones. After he heard one chiming, he declared, "You know, if your phone rings, I will tell you to give me the phone so we can talk." Immediately after he said that, another cellphone went off. "Give it here! Give it here!" He jumped off stage and ran after the man who was walking up the aisle answering the call. "No no, don't leave! Gimme the phone! Hello? Hello?" Finding out it was the guy's girlfriend, Anthony took the cellphone up on stage with him. "You don't be calling your man in the middle o' my show! What are you doin'? All right, here he is, hold on." He handed the phone back to the red-faced man as the audience howled with laughter.
The pair did have some seriousness in them, though, promising an "intense" fourth season. "You're gonna love it," Anthony said, in large part because the creative direction of the show is now run by co-executive producer Manny Coto. "As you guys know from last season, Manny raised the bar a lot. Not that we had bad writing in the first couple of seasons, but over the course of Season 3 he elevated everything — the intensity, the adventure. Everything that you've come to know about the show, that's going to continue and even more." He said Coto will be giving the Star Trek fans who have not been tuning in, "reasons to tune in."
Anthony said he has spoken to Coto hoping his own role in the show can increase. "I said, 'Hey Manny, put Travis in an episode! I actually bring something to this, and I know that I'm a part of everything, but don't just have me sitting there and give me one thing to do and then you don't see me for awhile... Give me work to do!'" The audience applauded in agreement.
Linda reflected on the growth her character has undertaken, from the first season when Hoshi was squeamish about space travel to the latest adventures when she was willing to kill herself for the greater good. "For me, the biggest shift for me was when it went from exploration to there being a cause. A lot of times we don't know the height of our own strength, our courage, until we're faced with having to fight for something that is really important. I think that was a big part of Season 3 for all of us, that we're no longer just exploring, we're really trying to save the world and save humanity and existence as we know it. And when it's that big, you forget about yourself and your fears. They're still inside of you, but now there's something greater than that to overcome."
The show was barely renewed for a fourth season, and Anthony stated, "God willing we're able to squeak out three more seasons after this," but he said he takes nothing for granted. "I was poor growing up, so I know how blessed I am. I live very spartan. I have nicer things now, but I make sure those things are paid for, so if the show does end, nobody's taking anything I have." Linda added, "I really don't think beyond the year. All of us are in the moment of this season. We'll see, we'll see, but we always try to enjoy what time we have now. We're all very open to whatever may or may not happen. We're a very mellow cast like that."
The man who played the "nemesis" of "Star Trek Nemesis," Tom Hardy ("Shinzon") made a Las Vegas-style entrance upon the convention stage, singing "Start spreading the news-" in his best approximation of Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York."
Hardy thrilled the ladies in the audience by taking off his jacket, twirling it and tossing it into the crowd, but thankfully he stopped undressing there. Answering fan questions, he quickly found himself confronted with a fan dressed in full Shinzon gear. He noted that his own costume in the movie was very tight and uncomfortable, saying "That's where the facial expressions came from." Then, addressing the costumed fan, he added, "As you'll soon find out!"
He spoke about the theatre company in the United Kingdom he is starting with girlfriend and Enterprise star Linda Park, noting that their company is just in the beginning stages. He said discussions were underway with Underground Asylum (a Los Angeles theatre group co-founded by Park) as well as New York's Labyrinth Company about importing a production or two. "We want to bring stuff to America, and we will."
When a young fan asked how they did the scene in "Nemesis" where he was impaled, he kidded the youngster by saying, seriously "Oh, it hurt. But I'm tough. I skewer myself regularly."
Hardy also recounted how, in scenes where he was wearing heavy contact lenses, he was practically blind, leading him to accidentally stabbed Patrick Stewart with a rubber knife, delivering a spot-on impression of Stewart saying "Oh, for crying out loud! You stabbed me!"
Hardy said he felt honored and fortunate to now be a part of the larger 'Star Trek family.' Growing up in the United Kingdom, he was familiar with Star Trek. "I sat through a lot of Star Trek when I was young, to get out of doing homework," he joked. "But everyone around the world knows Star Trek, everyone with a television, that is. And probably everyone else, too!"
Colm Meaney and Nana Visitor
The sunny and bright Nana Visitor ("Kira Nerys") joined her fellow Deep Space Nine cast member Colm Meaney ("Miles O'Brien") on stage Sunday for an illuminating talk about the show and their lives. Colm, who works a lot both in America and in the UK and Ireland, is not quite as regular a guest at these conventions, so the fans reveled in this joint appearance.
Nana spoke of being difficult during her pregnancies while making the show. She feels that maybe her costars noticed too. "I was a pain in the neck. I must have been very grumpy."
Meaney, who remains a busy actor (among other things, he recently played Benjamin Franklin in a Canadian film called "Nouvelle France") made note of the series' culmination. "The end of DS9 seems so long ago." But the fans haven't forgotten. The perennial question of a DS9 movie is always presented. To which Nana had a novel approach. "How about 'DS9 — The Opera'?" The only big difference that the former Major would like is that she be made officially Starfleet.
In her time since the show's end, Nana has been busy on stage, notably in "Chicago," for which she received very good notices. "'Chicago' was a real thrill," she remarked to an appreciative fan.
Another question that should be put to rest now is the question of the pronunciation of Colm's first name. Many Americans will say it as it looks, but the correct — and one would assume Irish — way is like the word "column." "Like a newspaper 'column.' We're Irish. We're weird," noted the Irishman.
With Meaney, many questions about a) his character, and b) his rank also prevail. First, his character of Miles O'Brien, he says, went from being a person on the Bridge, then a transporter operator and ultimately evolved into an NCO who transfers at some point over to Deep Space Nine. When he was the transporter chief, he says he was a bit distressed one day to find in the script that someone named O'Brien was now in this position. As he didn't have a name yet, he wondered who this could be. When he spoke to one of the writers, they said, "Oh, that's you." Over time, his part just grew. "It evolved," he said.
With regard to his ever changing rank pips, he says it was just one of those things that slipped through, i.e. it can't really be explained.
Nana was asked a rather unorthodox question, which is perhaps why we mention it now: In a fight between B'Elanna Torres and Major Kira, who would win? Of course, it's the feisty Bajoran. "I wouldn't mess with Kira. She would do whatever it took!"
Pocket Books Panel
Representatives of the Star Trek publishing world also had some time on stage Sunday. Representing Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster) was editor Margaret Clark, who was joined by writers Terry J. Erdmann ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion" and others), writer and Viacom Consumer Products director of publishing Paula Block, along with the writing team of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Among their numerous projects, Judith and Gar work with William Shatner on his novels. Shatner also took part in the panel, talking about his new series of books slated for early next year. Tentatively titled "The Academy," this series of books will look at the younger Kirk and his relationships with some of the famous instructors and future crewmates such as Spock. Gar and Judith, who will collaborate with Shatner on the project, mentioned how this series would attempt to tie in Kirk's Academy days with the references to these experiences that we know so well from the Original Series and movies.
At the end of their talk, Erdmann implored people to "read, read, read." Go to the library and check out books, read magazines, do whatever it takes to read, remain literate and keep the written word strong. As Star Trek exists in its own literary universe, the importance of keeping this aspect of the franchise alive can't be stressed enough.
The authors' panel segued naturally into the next speaker on stage. The writer who is most commonly associated with "The Trouble with Tribbles" (though he also contributed to "The Cloud Minders" and the animated Star Trek series) wrote that script while he was in college and just starting his career. "I was very audacious, I had a lot of hubris," said David Gerrold. "I set out just to write the very best Star Trek episode I could. I didn't realize it would turn out to be the most popular episode ever."
The segment had made such a splash that by the 1970s, Gerrold was tired of being associated with tribbles and tried very hard to distance himself from it. But Bjo Trimble — the fan who led the letter-writing campaign to save Star Trek from cancellation after its second season — said to Gerrold, "You know, the tribbles make people laugh. And you should never, ever be ashamed about making people laugh," Gerrold recalled. "It was the right thing to say," he added.
Gerrold had conducted a workshop Saturday morning on how to write science fiction and fantasy, a course focusing on such things as plot, characterization, style and theme, as well as world-building. But in his time on the main stage, he had some very basic advice for aspiring writers: "Finish what you start. Nobody ever wrote a good book by accident."
He also shared a method for exposing Klingons who are merely fans in costumes. "Some of the folks walking around in Klingon outfits, I tossed tribbles at a few of them yesterday. And survived. So I'm not sure they're real Klingons."
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy
The lights in the convention hall dimmed and the packed room roared and applauded in anticipation of perhaps the most eagerly awaited appearance of the entire convention. The big screen lit up, and a trio of Priceline.com commercials unspoiled, featuring the two actors about to make their appearance onstage.
As the crowd rose to their feet, however, only one man took the stage. The applause for Leonard Nimoy ("Spock") took a few minutes to die down, but he calmed the crowd and very seriously told the audience. "We have a bit of a problem. He's really upset." Nimoy led the fans in chants of "Bill! Bill!" and then "We want Bill! We want Bill" followed by "We love Bill! We love Bill!" Finally, the curtains parted and William Shatner ("James T. Kirk") brought the fans back to their feet by coming onstage to confront his former costar.
"I'm so hurt," said Shatner of the Priceline commercials which show him being replaced by Nimoy as the company's spokesman. "I find it so offensive that you would do that to me! Priceline came to me first!"
Nimoy responded dispassionately. "These things happen in show business. I thought the whole thing was a logical choice."
Unable to maintain the farce any longer, the pair of friends broke into laughter. Nimoy removed his sweatshirt to reveal a T-shirt underneath that read, appropriately, "#1 Vulcan," drawing a huge response from the attendees.
The legendary pair noted that it's been 40 years since they first worked together on an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in 1964, prompting Shatner to joke "Even my wife's not 40 years old!" Shatner noted that he's working on a new book, which leading Nimoy to quip, "A new book? It's about time, you haven't had a book out in weeks!"
The new book Shatner is working on with longtime writing partners Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens is actually a new series of books set at Starfleet Academy, when Kirk and Spock were teenagers and the events of those early years.
Shatner also talked about his various other pursuits, including his annual charity horse show, his role on the upcoming David E. Kelley series Boston Legal, other books of his in development for a miniseries, a reality show he's working on and his CORE computer graphics and special effects house based in Canada which is working on an animated picture for Disney.
With Shatner so incredibly busy, he asked Nimoy "So, what are you doing?" Without missing a beat, Nimoy deadpanned right back at him, "Priceline is paying me a lot of money, that's why I don't need to do all that other stuff."
Nimoy spoke about his life living on Lake Tahoe and spending time on the lake in his boat, which he named "West End" after the Boston neighborhood he grew up in. The 20-foot boat features a Starfleet flag hanging of the bow and when he goes out on the lake, he wears a cap he received from the crew of the real U.S.S. Enterprise. Nimoy said he is the official Lake Watcher for Lake Tahoe.
Nimoy also continues with his photography, and told an anecdote about being at a function with Tom Hanks, and a young man rushed up with a camera, wanting a picture of himself with Hanks. He saw Nimoy and remembered that he is an accomplish shutterbug, so somewhere a lucky man has a picture of himself with Tom Hanks, taken by Leonard Nimoy.
"Tribbles" with Commentary
The two lifelong friends and Star Trek legends could have entertained the crowd for hours, but next on the schedule was a screening of "The Trouble with Tribbles" with the duo being joined by the aformentioned author David Gerrold, who gave most of the commentary.
Gerrold noted that Sherman's Planet was named after a girl he was dating at the time named Holly Sherman. He also noted that years later when he worked on Land of the Lost, he named the character of "Holly" after her as well.
Despite the fact that most fans have seen this Original Series classic many times over, it never fails to entertain or get laughs. But one of the folks at Gerrold's original viewing party which he held the night it aired on December 29, 1967, was a friend of his named Robert Englund, who went on to star as Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films. Englund told Gerrold that evening, "Boy that turned out well, David! That's real good!" Gerrold recalled. "But I said, 'Well you know Bob, it's just one episode of one TV series, and 20 years from now nobody's gonna remember it.'" Well, almost 40 years later, over a thousand fans in Las Vegas and millions more worldwide remember and enjoy it still.