Creation Owners Discuss Convention PhenomenonBy Christian
August 11, 2005 - 4:01 PM
The owners of convention company Creation Entertainment admitted this week that the declining popularity of the Trek franchise has made it impossible for them to run as many conventions as they used to.
"When the [Star Trek brand] was at its peak we were running 40 or more Star Trek conventions a year and we were able to tour with it, sort of like vaudeville: go to even small cities and attract large crowds," Creation co-CEO Gary Berman told the Las Vegas Business Press. "Now there are so many other entertainment choices and Star Trek is not at its highest point. So we're running maybe three or four solely Star Trek conventions a year."
Berman (who is not related to Trek executive producer Rick Berman) admitted that the cancellation of Enterprise "didn't help" the brand. To compensate, the company has started to focus more on other science-fiction shows, and now also organises many conventions related to Stargate, The Lord of the Rings, and Lost. But that hasn't stopped Creation from coming up with a packed program for the Official Star Trek Con, taking place from today through Sunday in Las Vegas. The convention includes a performance by the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra of many of the Trek themes, the presentation of the DeForest Kelley Medical Field Recognition Award, and a tribute to the late James Doohan (Montgomery Scott). The convention will also many welcome Trek stars, including the "four captains" William Shatner (James T. Kirk), Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard), Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko) and Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway) -- only Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer) is missing.
Besides these big stars, the convention will feature a whole legion of Trek guest stars willing to sign autographs, ranging from Enterprise alumni such as Kevin Brief (the Tellarite Naarg on "Babel One") to TOS faithfuls such as Mary Linda Rapelye (Chekov's former girlfriend in "The Way To Eden." But as Creation's Berman noted, one of the charms of the convention circuit is that it can make stars out of actors whose conventional career success has been limited. An example is Chase Masterson (Leeta), who will be making her 17th convention appearance in Vegas. "She's parlayed that into a fan community that far exceeds what her actual work on the show would engender, if you thought about it," Berman said. "She's also been able to get lead roles on Sci Fi Channel movies because of that. I see how hard she has to work to do it. She's probably the one I would pick who's really taken what they had and realized that the sci-fi community will support you."
As beneficial is the Trek phenomenon is for the many actors who attend these conventions, the Las Vegas Business Press noted that the real winners may be found in the local business community -- even though they were slow to accept that Trek fans could bring profit. "Any name property in Vegas, I don't think they think their [casino] drop would not be helped by Star Trek fans. They had the wrong image, and our fans gamble. Star Trek fans are not 20 years old anymore," Berman said. "They're in their forties and it's the prime audience for casinos. Judging by the fact the Hilton has invited us back each year they've done well. We've also sold 3,500-3,600 hotel rooms [at $95 per night] at the Hilton, which of course is good."
For more from Berman, as well as a few quotes from Chase Masterson herself, head over to the Las Vegas Business Press. Meanwhile, if you're in the area anyway but haven't yet decided whether or not to go the official Trek convention, more information about the event can be found on the Creation site.