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The Trek Nation - Philadelphia Convention Report

Philadelphia Convention Report

By Doug Wilson
Posted at November 19, 2001 - 4:00 PM GMT

It all began on Friday, November 16, 2001. It was an unusually warm day, hitting the local record of 72 degrees, and around 3 o'clock, we arrived at the Adam's Mark Hotel, located in the area of Philadelphia, from where most of our local stations broadcast. The Adam's Mark was the home of the last Philadelphia convention, and, last year, the host to many delegates from the Republican National Convention.

By 4 o'clock, we'd registered and been given our seating badges, autograph tickets, and grabbed a copy of the schedule. Set once again in the same location within the hotel, we promptly made our way into the Dealer's room. Well, after a quick romp around the dealers room, checking out the items, I bought my 8X10's: a must at a convention to have signed, one of the Hallmark Ornaments I didn't have (I now have all but the Enterprise 1701, and the 1701-D) and we retreated to the haven known as our hotel room.

With no events of interest to me until 8:00 p.m, I finally managed to relax for all of 20 minutes. It's then back to the convention hall for an impromptu theatre piece starring our fill-ins, Marc Aliamo(Gul Dukat), Casey Biggs (Damar), and Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun). The three have a remarkable chemistry, as well as equally impressive acting talents, and what followed was an hour and a half of selected scenes and works from Shakespeare, designed by the three of them after their own experiences with family and friends, who see Shakespeare as unapproachable, and not understandable. Their goal was to not only entertain, but share their love and understanding of this great man with all of us. To me, it was simply like Klingon.

The highlight of the evening was, without a doubt, Jeffrey Combs' performance of Juliet. No, that's not a typo, Jeffrey Combs as Juliet to Casey Biggs' Romeo. Although not in 'costume', a long flowing lace curtain wrapped around his head and a red scarf around his waist was in place to signify his sex change. Following the show, the three-some signed a black and white 8X10 they had made specifically to celebrate and commemorate their show.


Saturday, November 17

A little after 10:00 AM, we arrived downstairs to dine on our complimentary breakfast. Not being much for morning foods, I found energy in a few strips of bacon, a bowl of cherios, and a much needed, caffeine-rich Cola. Sitting caddy-corner from us with 4 other people, ranging in age, was Casey Biggs. Across the room, sitting alone, Marc Alaimo. My first instinct, as I'm sure it would be yours, was to talk to these people, the ones you've come to see, the ones who've been part of the extraordinary phenomenon of Star Trek, but I've learned there's a need for personal distance. A few people did venture forth, and speak to Marc, who looked rather lonely. One young lady sat down for a few minutes and they had a brief conversation, another young man had a shorter, standing conversation following her, and I must admit to being envious of them - at first. Finishing our breakfast, it was 11:00 AM, and we finally headed down to the convention area. This was the busy day, featuring the majority of the guests for the weekend, including the headliner, Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway).

The first thing to do was pop into the 'Delaware room' and received Andrew J. Robinson's (Garak) signature ahead of time. Andy's a delightful man, quite calm, and very well spoken. He politely offered to personalise any photo brought to him, had no problem with rotating ink colours for the different items to be signed, and was more than pleasant. Now, typically, I'm nervous, flustered. I was meeting a person who, before now, was only a character to me, and typically an imposing one at that. I blurted this fact out, that I was always so nervous, and Andy's simple, "Oh don't be nervous" was enough to calm me down. Sometimes, the actor taking the first step helps. Afterwards, I managed to get out a few questions. Andy is, right now, working on another Garak novel. This one is set after a play titled 'Into the Matrix' that Alexander Siddig and he have performed at other shows.

After this, a photo, and a handshake, we moved off to the dealers room again. After a few minutes exploring, once again, we headed to our seats as Marc, Casey and Jeff were about to come on stage. They of course did, and the talk quickly began. Again, the chemistry was evident between the three, something they later explained as one of the reasons all three remained on DS9 for so many episodes. Marc revealed that he was offered a role on Enterprise as an alien pirate. Marc, however, turned them down after discovering the part required even more make-up than Dukat.

Jeffrey Combs had just finished, within the past few days, his second guest appearance as the Andorian on Enterprise, but wouldn't give out spoilers despite some gentle prodding in the beginning. Casey is looking forward to the coming season premieres, either referring to the mid-season filler shows, or next year, when he apparently has either a part, or the lead in a show. The word Sitcom may have been mentioned, but no network was. The three regaled us further with tales of their DS9 days, including Marc's re-enactment and explanation of the final Dukat/Sisko fight in which Avery Brooks (Sisko) un-intentionally broke Marc's nose. Casey Biggs quick comment/insult, "Vorta Pest" in reference to Jeffrey Combs received quite a laugh, and for a moment, I felt like Damar was back from the dead. Then, it was time for them to go, but we would meet again, later that night at the famed "Dinner with the Stars", during the meet-and-greet segment of the evening.

Next up at 12:30, was Andrew J. Robinson (Garak). Andy, who had appeared mild, calm, and almost soothing to speak with, raced onto the stage and, for lack of a better word, yelled for the next half hour at us. Though it was all polite, and Trek-related, and non-anger yelling, no doubt Andy (as he's called) was caught off-guard, this being the first time in 7 years he'd been alone on stage.

Next up, at 1:00 p.m was Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar.) For some reason, she's never as lovely on screen as she is in person. The convention talk was fun, funny, and included well-explained answers to everything. She said "Long winded", but that's what the fans want, true answers. Yes and No get too boring!

One thing I asked her, was, since Star Trek Ten is with the Romulans, whether we would see Sela's return. Apparently, she has had conversations with Rick Berman. The two of them had a few meetings, just trying to work a way for Sela to return, but since the film is apparently 'Not a Romulan Movie,' there was no way to fit her character, a part of the military and the empire, into the film. Denise also confirmed the story dealt with some sort of 'Clone of Patrick as a child,' though she has not herself seen the script.

At a quarter past two, Kate Mulgrew made her entrance. The ovation was mammoth. Kate is looking as lovely as ever, and was extremely well dressed from head-to-toe. Her hair is once again pulled back, and slightly up, though not in the 'Steel Bun,' as she called it, that she sported during the first three seasons and part of the fourth. Also at the convention was her husband, candidate for Ohio Governor, Tim Hagan.

Kate was, to put it mildly, a wonderful guest. She made us laugh, cry, shout, laugh some more, and wish the time to never end. She told a story about he final day of shooting on the Voyager set. The last day of shooting featured Kate, alone, on the bridge. She had watched her fellow cast leave, one by one over the week, and it was time for the final scene. After the "That's a wrap", Kate stood and looked at her empty bridge. To her distress, a member of the crew promptly and without reservation began to disassemble her Command Chair, right in front of her. She spotted a silhouette from the briefing room doorway, and found it to be her friend, Robert Picardo (the Holodoc). After a minute of just staring at one another, realising, it was over, Picardo moved to her, put his arms around her, and said, "Come on sugar, lets go get a drink." and that is how Star Trek: Voyager ended production.

Kate is one of the many extremely sad to see her Voyager days end. She misses such events as Tim Russ spit-balling her, Beltran, Russ, Wang, and McNeill mooning her, and the character of Janeway as well. Kate was asked, quite frankly, if she and Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) bonded as Kathryn and Seven of Nine did. She replied, quite honestly. "Did we bond? No, we didn't bond." to which the audience broke into laughter. "I don't see the point in lieing about it, you all know we didn't bond, so why not be honest?" she continued before moving on. Kate will soon be preforming the women her voice has most been compared too, Catharine Hepburn, on stage in Connecticut. Kate was one of the best speakers I've ever met at a convention, and I've met quite a few.

What followed next was the autographs. Anyone who's been to a convention knows this to be one of the two top important things, and the most annoying, long, tedious, and time-consuming events. Lines on top of lines on top of lines. Kate was an average speed signer, and quite polite. We then moved directly to Denise Crosby, who was an average speed signer, and very polite as well. Then, on to Marc, Casey, and Jeff, who where equally quick. In fact, quicker than I was able to sort through my stack of things to be signed.

Then it was time for the entertainment. This year, they tried something new, in which the play went first, then the dinner, then the meet-and-greet segment, in which some of the actors (this year, Marc, Casey, Jeff, Denise, George, and Walter and some non-advertised, lesser known guests), move from table to table, and throng of people to throng or people, posing for photos, shaking hands, and answering a question or two. Before we get to that, lets center on the play. This year, due to Brent Spiner's last minute cancellation, Gates McFadden went on alone, throwing together a wonderful ensemble of scenes from plays, and poetry. Gates also took things above and beyond at this dinner, actually physically acting instead of just vocalisation, with tossing of her hair and acting some things out, which really was quite a treat.


Sunday, November 18

The day started later then expected, 9:30 for me, and it was time to join the autograph ques again. Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher) was polite, and a very quick signer. After 45 minutes, and a 20 minute break for Gates, she took her turn on stage.

Gates was fun, funny, enjoyable, happy to talk (although questions weren't her first priority for the first 5 minutes), and just lovely. She confirmed Kate Mulgrew's appearance in Trek X once again, and said "And my son has a small part in the film." She said there's one additional cameo in the film, that this script is much better than 'Insurrection,' no uniform changes, possibly a new hair-do, and that Marina Sirtis gets a "New, flowing, lovely gown, but I'm not jealous!" She also informed us she begins work tomorrow at 4 AM in Palmdale on Trek X, although there's a rain date if needs be. Also, Nemesis has the least pre-production time of any of the TNG films.

In all, I must say this convention was an A+ event. I've been to a D, two C's, and mostly B's, this is only my third A, so, it was one of the best. My commendations to all of Slanted Fedora Entertainment, and specifically the guests and Mr. Scott for a wonderful show. Not a single bad guest, not a single bad attitude, not a single impolite comment. Truly a wonderful show, the way they should be run. Final rating: A+!

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Doug Wilson is a veteran of 8 star trek conventions. He runs the DS9 Horizons campaign, and is a regular feature in the "thanks go out to..." line at the bottom of articles at TrekToday ;). He can be contacted at deepspacenine_horizons@hotmail.com.