With Saturday being the only day Sir Patrick Stewart was attending Grand Slam: The Star Trek Sci Fi Summit XVII, it was understandingly very popular. Demand was so great not only did General Admission tickets sell out days before, but “Vendor/Signer Area Only” tickets were created for those who wanted to obtain autographs and photos with Stewart at $80 a pop. No doubt many were delighted by this development. However, my friend who was only going for Stewart’s autograph paid $70 for a Saturday Preferred Admission a couple of days prior because he missed out on the GA tickets and was very frustrated when he learned the news.
A handful of people, many verbally eager for Stewart’s appearance, were lined up before 8am and the line steadily increased before the doors opened at 8:30am. It was was oddly chaotic, as one line formed with different ticket holders mixed together. No one with Creation seemed to know where people needed to line up or else they didn’t care. Some lady tried to get the different groups to stand in different places, but it didn’t work as the entire line moved en masse to a different location. When the doors opened, people with badges were allowed in while those needing to pick them up found out at the door that they had to move to yet another line. Considering how long Creation has been putting these shows on and taking into account they already had Friday to deal with this issue, it was strange the start of the day didn’t run more smoothly.
The lobby of the Convention Center, which really seemed more like a hallway, had trouble handling all the vendors and attendees milling about because of how narrow it was. The entry to the bathrooms were particularly crowded and it didn’t help that was where people had to go to pay for parking. When a panel featuring a popular speaker concluded in the Academy Ballroom, the exit couldn’t handle the flow of people streaming out. This was due in part because of the tables lining the walls hawking sci fi paraphernalia and selling autographs from celebrities who stretched the definition of the term, such as Natalija Nogulich, who played Admiral Nechayev in four episodes of ST:The Next Generation and two episodes of ST:Deep Space Nine; Don Marshall, who played Lt. Boma in ST: The Original Series episode “The Galileo Seven”; and Bobby Clark, who wore the Gorn costume in ST: TOS episode “The Arena”. I have no idea off the top of my head what Chase Masterson appears in, but she looked stunning in a gorgeous gray dress designed with a captivating asymmetrical structure that allowed her ample bosom to spill out the top.
After a music video featuring TNG scenes, LeVar Burton and Michael Dorn began the Ballroom presentations to the great excitement to those in the audience. They took questions from people who were lined up on both sides of the stage. The first question asked Dorn about a Captain Worf TV series being funded on Kickstarter, but Dorn has to burst his bubble as there isn’t one anymore since they failed to reach their goal.
What would be a reoccurring event is how easily people clapped and shouted. Mention Star Trek should be on TV and some fans went wild. Deliver a quote from the show and they elicit giddy laughter. After a way-too-long improv/ramble between the two actors about Dorn’s mustache, they went back to more interesting fare like discovering people who claimed they came to this event from Brazil. The silliest question they were asked was whether they thought the show would be a hit after the first day of shooting. The answer was obviously “no.”
Both actors ripped on the episode “Code of Honor,” which they each declared was the worst episode of the series because of its racist overtones as the Enterprise crew encountered a planet of black people who had transporter technology yet still worn loin clothes and used spears.
In the ballroom, there were two video screens on the side of the stage. A video camera captured the speakers, but was set up in a terrible spot. It was in a walkway but the tripod was not raised off the floor, so people walking down the aisle were constantly getting into the shot.
Even though she was in Star Trek IV, it was puzzling to see Catherine Hicks have a panel all to herself, and the large number of fans who left the room would likely agree. She was a bit of a rambler, but grew more amusing as she talked about William Shatner horning into her close-ups and basically told us she fooled around with a number of her leading men over the years. It was hard to tell which question for her was stranger but I narrowed it down to two: one guy from Monterrey asked what it was like working in Monterrey during Star Trek IV, and an obsessed fan unaware that other people aren’t obsessed with Star Trek asked if she and her 7th Heaven co-star Stephen Collins, who appeared in ST:The Motion Picture, talked about Star Trek. To his surprise, they hadn’t.
Jasika Nicole from Fringe was up next and more fans filed out, some likely getting in line for the TNG Full Cast photo, which cost $379 and had more takers than you would imagine. I am not a fan of her character, but she came across as such a sweet, earnest woman, I blame the writers for how poorly created of a character Astrid is.
The Star Trek Yes/No Trivia game allowed 29 people to take part in winning $200. They held three different games and the winner was allowed to stay and go against 28. Some super nerd won two rounds and earned $400. The second game was hysterical when the first question about the name of Capt. Janeway’s dog knocked out 26 people.
James Marsters of Buffy fame and other genre shows got right into questions and seems really into interacting with the fans, unlike some guests. I’ve never seen him act as far as I recall, but his enthusiasm is so infectious I’d recommend seeing him at future conventions. He obviously enjoys acting and sharing stories.
Before the Star Trek: TNG and Enterprise in HD! panel they tested the equipment for the presentation, which ended up showing the Blu-ray material in reverse image, but the few words were easy enough to read. The Enterprise TV series footage looked great. The TNG two-part episode “Best of Both Worlds” is being edited together and sold as a separate release. It will also be shown in theaters.
The Grand Slam No Minimum Bid Auction was up next. Items were placed on stage for perusal. The auctioneer stated that the couple of TOS pictures signed by the whole cast usually went for $3000. If true, the winning bids were a steal at about half that price. When a signature of Jack Haley was on the docket, a woman near the front row claimed she was a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz. When given the chance to go first, she generated a huge laugh by starting the bidding at $10. A collection of shirts were auctioned together with the option of exchanging for another size if needed, but considering the size of some of those folks, I would want to make certain my size was included before bidding.
A media blackout keeps me from reporting on Sir Patrick Stewart’s panel, but if you find me, I’ll give you my impression of his panel, which was positive.
For a $25 general admission ticket, the Grand Slam delivered an enjoyable afternoon. Another friend who paid $75 for a guaranteed assigned seat in the back half of the Ballroom told me that “after seeing the GA section on the side [next to the reserved he thought his purchase] was kind of lame.” I would agree as little effort was required to get much closer to the stage.