FanX opened Thursday afternoon in Salt Lake City, Utah, to beautiful weather, a smaller, more-intimate crowd and a venue that was nearly half the size of previous cons. Dan Farr, the founder and producer of Salt Lake Comic Con greeted the, also-smaller press corps at a new location, the Grand America Hotel (previous press conferences had been held at the Salt Palace Convention Center). He was joined by co-founder and CMO Bryan Brandenburg, as well as Mayor Ralph Becker, who proclaimed Jan. 29th as Salt Lake Comic Con’s ‘Day of Heroes’ in SLC. As stated above, the number of press passes was limited for this event, and I’d like to thank VisionaryTrek.com for allowing me to cover it; also – Thank you, Dan Fann and Bryan Brandenburg, for selecting me (and VT), to continue being a part of this ongoing, record-setting phenomenon here in Salt Lake City.
The press conference was held in the Savoy Room, and – while smaller than previous sites, the lighting and sound were greatly improved, and it gave the corps a better-chance to greet and mingle with the celebrities in-attendance. The excitement became almost-palpable as Nichelle ‘Uhura’ Nichols was glimpsed along a side door entrance. She was elegant and gracious as she took the stage and she assured us that she was glad to be there; she welcomed the opportunity to meet all of us and answer our questions. She, then – gave that iconic Vulcan salute (for which I returned, catching her eye) and told us to “Live long and prosper.” Disappointingly, hotel security and con organizers quickly whisked Nichelle away and she was not able to keep her promise; the press members were a bit disheartened by this, but – given the crowded room, I think we all understood the necessity of their actions.
However, I did get to meet Nichelle personally at her booth (later that afternoon), shaking her hand; her people wouldn’t allow questions or photos from press members, but they did allow me to introduce myself, drop the VT site’s name and mention her recent meeting with Michael Clark and Bunny Summers at Destination Star Trek London, which was held in October of last year.
Also, in-attendance (at the press conference), was Glenn Morshower, best known to Star Trek fans for his appearances in TNG, VOY and ENT, as well as his role as the Enterprise B‘s navigator in Star Trek: Generations. While, I was not able to question Mr. Morshower at the press conference (his table was immediately thronged, and time was limited), I did get to greet him outside of the press room, as he was heading to lunch. He was very warm and friendly, assuring me that he would be back for his panel later that afternoon.
Glenn put on a fascinating panel! He’s a truly remarkable man and a motivational speaker; he told us stories ranging from his childhood to how he moved to Los Angeles and became an actor, he told various anecdotes about movies and TV, auditioning for roles with syrup in his shoes (he had the packed room rolling with laughter); and he sang a lengthy version of ‘There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.’ He was quite impressive; Glenn didn’t have any need for a moderator, as he commanded the room from the moment he was introduced and kept us enthralled throughout.
Glenn did recount a funny story about previous con guest, and – Star Trek legend William Shtatner, which is pure gold; (and, I’d love to see the vault footage of this). Apparently, Shatner missed a dress rehearsal’s instructions on Generations and wasn’t aware that the bridge was going to be shaken on a gimbal. David Carson didn’t feel inclined to let Bill know, either. So when he called for “Shake!” – everyone was ready, except ‘Captain James T. Kirk,’ whom – flew through the the air, through a rail and did a face plant on the bridge of his ship! Luckily, William Shatner wasn’t injured and he was able to save-face and laugh it off; but Glenn had a ball in telling about the experience. It was a terrific panel, to say the least.
Upon-arriving, Friday morning, my co-journalist Jeremiah Michael Stewart and I ran into my friend John Eaves, as he was inquiring about getting a photo-op with Brandon ‘Superman’ Routh for his daughter. John is well-known for his Star Trek designs, illustrations and model-making; having designed the Enterprise E, Son’a ships and the Scimitar in Nemesis. John, also-worked on Deep Space Nine and is co-author of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies Generations and First Contact, with JM Dillard.
John is a great guy (I met him at SLCC, in September) and he has the distinction of being the only ‘old-school’ Trekkie allowed to work on JJ Abrams rebooted franchise movies. I was able to chat with him for a few minutes, as we made our way to his booth. We told him we had some Star Trek questions: “Star Trek questions?!” he laughed. “Oh – anything!” First, I asked him his opinions on Simon Pegg writing the new Trek movie. “You know, uh, he should be alright.” He went on to say, “I only just heard about it yesterday. ‘Cause we’ve all been hired and laid-off so many times, and nobody knows who’s going to be on the new one, or not.”
Me: You have the privelage of being the only person to work on the old Trek and the new Trek… “Yeah…I kinda like it,” John said, wearing a big smile. How do you feel about that? Lucky timing. That’s all I can say.” I asked him what it was like to work with JJ Abrams. “Oh, he’s cool. He’s my favorite.”
We broached Star Wars: Do you think he’s going to do ok with [that]? “Yeahh… He’s a big fan, anyways.” Then, Jeremiah asked him: Didn’t he make his Star Trek ’09 movie as his Star Wars movie, because he didn’t think he’d ever make a Star Wars movie? “Yes, exactly. Well, he was hesitant to do Star Wars because he’d have to leave the country and he likes to stay home with his family. And, so – uh, it was a big deal for him to make that decision to leave.” On working with JJ, John added: “He’s great fun to work with. He’s always goofy and fun; great guy. I enjoyed it. He and Frakes are my two favorite Trek directors.” His favorite scene that he did: “When the Vulcan ship [in First Contact] drops out of the clouds to Jerry Goldsmith’s music, it’s my all-time favorite movie moment.”
We wrapped-up and left him to open his booth (as the doors were opening), but it was great fun talking to John, and his insights were fantastic.
Well, that’s my exciting Star Trek moments at FanX. There weren’t many choices, this time; there were a few booths selling art prints, comics and toys, and there were fewer ST cosplayers, as in con’s past, but Trek will never be absent… Will it?
That’s all, for now. As Nichelle would say: “Live long and prosper.”