Braga, Keating, Burton & Picardo Speak on Trek LegacyBy Michelle
May 15, 2005 - 11:16 PM
In a final series of nostalgic interviews with the cast and crew of the Star Trek franchise, both executive producer Brannon Braga and Star Trek: Enterprise star Dominic Keating agreed that Kirk was the captain they'd want to be, while they plus Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Picardo and Star Trek: The Next Generation's LeVar Burton agreed that the potential for real space exploration should not go to waste.
Speaking to CNN's Showbiz Tonight, Burton (LaForge) and Picardo (The Doctor) both spoke about their contact with astronauts and Planetary Society members. "My involvement with 'Star Trek' got me involved with a wonderful organization called the Planetary Society, a non-profit that encourages our exploration of space and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence," Picardo explained. "I've been struck with the number of scientists and engineers who are engaged in space exploration who thank us, the 'Star Trek' actors, for inspiring them."
Added Burton, a lifelong science fiction fan, "I was at NASA just last week. And, you`re right, Bob. All of those people are wildly excited about that which we do, and which is kind of bizarre, because, you know, we worship these people who put their lives on the line and are actually doing for real what we're only imaging that we do on television." Like Anthony Montgomery (Mayweather) on the same show a few days earlier, Burton credited Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) from the original Star Trek for being an inspiration to people of color, allowing him to think "that finally here`s a version of the future that includes people who look like me. It`s no secret that there are a lot of us out there who saw ourselves represented in 'Star Trek' and felt comfort in that. Mae Carol Jemison, the first African-American woman to fly in space became a scientist first and then an astronaut because of those images of Nichelle Nichols on the bridge."
Keating (Reed) appeared via satellite from London where he was helping with the launch of the Enterprise first season DVD set. He described meeting Leonard Nimoy (Spock) a few days earlier, calling being onstage with him "one of those slightly twilight moments" that connected him to the Star Trek legacy. "I remember taking that first step up on to the bridge and just checking myself ever such a small second and thinking, wow, you know?," he recalled of his first appearance in the first shot of the pilot. "It's a shame it`s come to an end a little prematurely for us but nevertheless, four great years."
Keating said that he wanted to model himself on Kirk, who had heroic escapades and his chiffon clad ladies in droves, while Braga noted that Kirk was the original and "the best of the captains or at least the most memorable because he was the first." Still, he added, "I've always been partial to Picard." And "Janeway wasn`t bad." Then he protested, "Don`t do this to me! I know these actors."
Braga called the final night of Enterprise "a bit of a bummer" as he was sorry to see the series come to an end and the franchise pause. "There is no doubt that it will be back at some point or I think it will be." He said that it would be a few months before he thought he would have an answer for people asking what he wished he had done differently on Enterprise.
Burton summed up the feelings of many of the actors who appeared on Showbiz Tonight over the course of last week by saying that he thought the importance of Star Trek could be summed up in "just two words, 'what if'"? What if we lived in a world that was absent racism, sexism, prejudice of any sort? What if we were actually able to create a future that included everybody equally? Not a bad thing to contemplate...Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future was one that was very inclusive. Gene coined a phrase, 'infinite diversity in infinite combinations.' There was inherently a respect for all life forms that were encountered in 'Star Trek'. And so I think that`s a pretty strong message right there."