I have returned from this year’s Kansas City, MO Planet Comicon and had a real blast during the event over the weekend. I decided to go as a private citizen instead of a member of the fourth estate so I could simply enjoy the feel of a Con without the added pressure of trying to run down this or that celebrity for an interview or corner an exhibitor, artist or cosplayer. I really wanted to just blend in, relax and enjoy the experience just like everyone else in the crowd. And, I certainly did.
I was able to make a couple of very informative panels. I found actress/dancer, now interior designer – Femi Taylor (of Star Wars and Cats fame) to be a sheer delight to listen to as she recounted her time as Oola in Return of the Jedi. Her description of the difference between her original shoot on a actual sound stage and being asked to return several years later for the re-shooting of her scene for the Lucas “upgrade” to Jedi was quite telling.
Lee Majors, now 75, was and always will be, well – Lee Majors – a delightfully entertaining man with very fixed ideas on the direction his industry has moved into over the last decade and a briefcase of exciting first-hand, behind-the-scene story accounts of his days on The Big Valley, The Six Million Dollar Man, and his personal favorite – The Fall Guy, which he revealed will be made into a major motion picture starring Dwayne Johnson in his old role. He shared the unheralded and often inglorious work of stunt performers who literally put their lives on the line everyday just to ensure the viewers get nothing but the best realism possible while entertaining us for TV and film. Lee’s own physical body bear the marks of his old stunt days including an upcoming knee-replacement surgery that is the result of years of him doing 80% of his own stunts for his early television and film work.
TREKtacular TNG Reunion was the titular event of the Con. It was held at the end of the weekend’s venue and was a private ticket-holder event with reserved seating only. The place was packed with at least a couple thousand excited fans of the pivotal series within the Star Trek universe. On hand were Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), Michael Dorn (Worf), Gates McFadden (Beverley Crusher), Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher), Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker), LeVar Burton (Geordi), Brent Spiner (Data) and special guest John DeLancie (Q). This eclectic panel of celebrities was hosted by the one-and-only William Shatner himself (Captain James T. Kirk). The rowdy crew of the Enterprise-D were their rambunctious self and by the end of the 90-plus minute back-and-forth with the exuberant audience it became quite apparent to everyone there that the long-held stories are true – this group of actors really do love and care for one another, even after all these years of not daily working together.
For me, however, even though I am one of the original Trek fans of all-time; my most memorable moment of the Con was my time with actor Eddie McClintock of Warehouse 13. During his panel I was able to be one of those who was given the opportunity to ask him two questions – he doesn’t sit far off from his audience but comes down to them during the Q&A sessions. The first question I asked dealt with the recent announcement from SyFy Network president Mark Stern that SyFy is returning to its original sci-fi roots and will be gradually doing away with its reality-based programming and returning to more hardcore science fiction – the reason it was created in the first place. I asked Eddie that with that word from Stern, why was Warehouse 13 canceled from the schedule since it was one of the few science fiction based shows in the network’s lineup and still had unlimited potential for more great sci-fi storytelling. He agreed with my assessment and said that just two weeks earlier he had a sitdown with Mr. Stern to basically ask him a very similar question and was told by the network-head that the kind of sci-fi the network will be gearing up for will be more space-opera oriented, similar to highly successful past shows like Battlestar Galactica and Farscape and the network needed the financial and crew resources from some of the current existing shows in order to help facilitate that upcoming return to the network’s roots. Then Eddie said something that broke the heart of everyone in the standing-room-only crowd, “Warehouse 13 is officially dead.” BTW, my second question was if he and Myka ever found the Ark of the Covenant within the Warehouse. He answered, “No, but we did find Indy’s hat.”
I was afforded the opportunity at the end of the Con to a few moments of private one-on-one with Eddie McClintock out on the exhibitor’s floor and I must say that he is an original, engaging, funny and down-to-earth guy just like you and I. He is the genuine article, no facade, no Hollywood face — a real human being. If someone doesn’t hire him soon for a gig then it is they and us who are the losers because he still has so much more talent to share with the rest of us.
There were a ton of other fine guests that I wasn’t able to see due to time constraints and, unlike Q, I was only able to be in one place at a time so had to pick and choose what to see and pass up for the limited amount of time I was present. Firefly’s Jewel Staite had her panel as did Doctor Who number 7 – Sylvester McCoy. Wil Wheaton had a solo panel. Also on hand were the erasable and multi-talented John Ratzenberger, duo LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner doing their unique brand of comedy with song and dance. Everyone’s favorite 70’s Lois Lane, Margot Kidder made an appearance and many more well known celebs graced the various stages set up in the massive Kansas City Convention Center. There were special events such as an entire room set up for Table-Top Gaming, a Doctor Who Timey-Wimey Puppet Show, a study into the Fandom of Sherlock Holmes, Vampires and, of course Cosplay and costume contests, as well as what these Cons are all about — Comic Books galore along with a whole bevy of well-known and newly rising artists throughout the multiple galleries on display on the massive center floor of the Con.
And yes, I did walk away with an original Rick Mittelstedt print of the TOS and Alternate Trek crews divided by the heroic bow of the U.S.S. Enterprise.