One of the highlights of the convention, Hollywood Xpo, was the reunion of the stars of the mini-series Star Trek Of Gods and Men which was specifically made for the internet, produced by Sky Douglas Conway as a ‘40th Anniversary gift’ from the Star Trek actors to their fans.
Hollywood Xpo, which is the first-annual multimedia convention for fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror, took place last week at the Universal Hilton Hotel. The event featured over 100 stars, including Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Robert Duncan McNeil, Kevin Sorbo and Stan Lee.
Set in 2306, forty years after their first mission on the Enterprise, Captains Chekov and Uhura come together for the dedication of a very unique ship. During the ceremony a distress call draws them down to a familiar planet, and a meeting with someone from their past who will change their lives forever.
This seems like once again Star Trek was going into a new frontier – had you ever heard of webisodes?
Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand): Yes, this was in our minds to do it on the internet. I think we should have kept going. That’s why I think the internet is so important, we could just keep the spirit of Star Trek alive forever.
Tim, you not only reprise your role of Tuvok in Star Trek Of Gods and Men, you also directed it. How would you describe shooting this movie?
Tim Russ (Tuvok): I would say at the time it was perhaps described as a train running down a hill without any brakes. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, or how it would turn out. There were a lot of problems with getting it made, and I was so incredibly happy and surprised to see how the end result came out.
It was a great deal of work and effort from people who were not paid, who volunteered their services, their skills, to make this thing happen. I was very happy with the final result. It was such a wonderfully pleasant surprise
Were you surprised that you could get Star Trek Of Gods and Men mounted?
Nichelle Nichols (Captain Nyota Uhura): When I talk with Sky sometime before, when it was still an idea, I said, ‘Will you be able to get the people back? Are Paramount going to let you do it?’ You know how they are! He said, ‘I’ll take care of that.’ And he just did it.
Can you talk about revisiting your role in Star Trek Of Gods and Men, and then going back in time and playing a different Chekov?
Walter Koenig (Captain Pavel Chekov): Initially I wasn’t enthusiastic about doing Chekov yet again in a situation where there was not going to be any enumeration. But Sky is a good friend of mine and he ask for me to be involved. Then it turns out that it was really great fun. It wasn’t just Chekov, it was another character and an emotional one. It was a very positive experience.
What were the specific challenges for you?
Tim Russ: In the beginning these fine actors showed up, we were in upstate New York in a place that was very difficult to work in, very difficult conditions.
It was 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity. All the actors were dying, especially the actors playing the Klingons with all that make up. It was the hottest summer on record.
Did you do any improvisation or was it all scripted?
Nichelle Nichols: The script was pretty tight. We had a cohesive and coherent script, but sometimes it we would say, ‘What about this?’ and we would tighten it even more.
What took so long for the miniseries to appear on the internet?
Walter Koenig: It had to do with the special effects. The CGI was being done pretty much for free, so we were limited by their availability. That took a great deal of time.
What was your reaction when you saw the finished product?
Nichelle Nichols: When I saw the special effects I just collapsed it was so fantastic, and I think it really made the blood, sweat and tears that we gave worth it.
What was the moment in the movie you remember the most?
Grace Lee Whitney: It was when Uhura got married, that’s when we were all standing around and our feet were killing us. Somebody was playing mariachi music, and Tim Russ lost it, he was just beside himself.
Nichelle Nichols: What they did to me was (they wouldn’t allow me to see) the Bridge until I was in costume, and I was behind the door. I was supposed to step onto the Bridge, and my first line was, ‘Well, as I live and breathe.’ I thought, ‘Why am I saying this?’ And I asked Tim how I was supposed to be saying it, and he wouldn’t tell me.
Then I stepped out there and what came out was, (said in total awe), ‘Well, as I live and breathe.’ I was on the Bridge (the exact replica of the original set) and it just blew me away. It was like being on the (original) set of Star Trek. They did such an incredible job.
Walter Koenig: I had a wonderful speech that was written for me where I talk about wife and child who are killed. That’s the moment that I’m the most proud of.
Can you tell us about the doll you’re holding?
Grace Lee Whitney: (with Janice Rand doll) It’s from Japan. The Japanese are such great fans. It’s in the original uniform; this is what we wore in 1965. It’s so cute.
Would you consider doing another one?
Tim Russ: Absolutely not! (he laughs) Absolutely, if it was a good story, a good script and we could make it happen, I certainly would.