Tag Archives: Starfest

Starfest 2008 — Final Thoughts

I have to say that of the three Starfest conventions I’ve been to, this one has been the best for me. This is due in part to the number of guest that I wanted to see and in part to Lepidus and I deciding to spend the weekend at the hotel, thereby giving us a place to relax, use the bathroom, blog, read, or whatever in addition to not having to worry about driving back home.

I was glad that the 501st Legion Moutain Garrison had a MUCH bigger presence this year. One of my complaints last year was that there were only a few storm troopers. This year, there were many storm troopers as well as the normal token rebel pilot, a couple of Imperial officers, a couple of Darth Vadar’s (both the right size rather than being too short), and others. In fact, on Sunday, I felt that I had to let the people staffing their large booth this, and they were appreciative of my thanks. I also think that Starfest’s decision to put them where they did this year (which is where they were in 2006) is the right one. Last year, they were stuffed off in a corner and easily lost in the crowd.

I still wish anime had a slightly bigger presence at this convention instead of a tiny booth in the dealer room, a few cosplayers, and a panel room where all they do is show titles (mostly fansubs, but some modified stuff too, like Voltron). Depending on how much packing I’ve managed to do will determine when I post my lone anime Starfest report on my anime blog (this blog entry is being written well in advance of the actual publication date, so I’ve no clue how I’m doing packing-wise as I write).

What will determine my return to Starfest in 2009 is mainly my employment situation. If I have a job that pays enough and I can get some free time, I’ll try to go since there’s likely to be at least one guest I’m interested in.

Note: I’ll work on pictures AFTER my move, so look for those in May.

Starfest 2008 – 09

While I’ve seen a fair number of Stargate SG1 episodes, over time, I just grew out of the show. Don’t get me wrong, if I saw an episode, I enjoyed it, but if I never see another episode in my life, I won’t even miss it. Still, when given the chance to see Cliff Simon, who plays the villain System Lord Ba’al, I took it.

Cliff is from South Africa and told us a bit about his dance background. He told us of his love for scuba diving and other outdoor activities. He recently became an American citizen and one of his current projects is a series of affirmations about America which will be sent to the troops. As someone coming from outside the U.S., he feels that all this anti-American sentiment in the world shows that people have forgotten all the things that the U.S. has done for the world and continues to do for the world. So, he wants the troops to not just be told the negatives about how we are hated, but all the good we do (which in this writer’s opinion, is rarely mentioned in the press).

Naturally, he talked of his time on SG1 and how his knowing the producer of the series is what ultimately led him to the series. He really had no idea that he would get to play Ba’al for five years and he thanked the fans for that, as it is fan response to guest characters on the show that helps determine if they are brought back. He further discussed how he enjoyed playing the role of Ba’al as it allowed him to do those evil things which we humans normally suppress (no matter what it is). He stated that he brings a part of himself into the character, which he feels makes the character “more human.” As such, the writers picked up on things (such as Ba’al’s humor) and away they went.

Cliff’s time was shortened due to Nichelle Nichols arriving so late and staying over somewhat in her alloted time. However, since not a lot of people asked questions, I suppose it was for the best. He was an entertaining guest and I am glad to have met him.

Starfest 2008 – 08

When we saw Nichelle Nichols signing autographs on Saturday, Lepidus commented to me on what a classy lady she is. That is certainly true as we were to further learn on Sunday, though schedules don’t mean much to her apparently. ^_^;

She was roughly 30-minutes late for her presentation, and when she arrived, she warned us that she can be quite verbose. That certainly was true, but she managed to hold the audience spellbound with her tales, even for something as mundane as her stylish but uncomfortable shoes. Unfortunately, that lead some female fan to offer Nichelle her crocks to make her feet comfortable. I really, really couldn’t believe someone would honestly expect Nichelle to go, “Ooo! Yes! I do believe I’ll take you up on that offer. After all, what does foot fungus mean to me?” However, Nichelle is all class as stated before and she turned down this offer and even made the whole thing pretty interesting.

Since the “underground” movie called Star Trek: Of Gods and Men is the latest Star Trek project of Nichelle’s (tied in with the fans doing those “TV” web episodes of the classic Star Trek that I blogged about here) she was asked about that as the crowd had just seen the first two parts. She’s not seen it yet as she’s apparently waiting for the finished product. However, when she stepped onto the fan-created bridge-set of the original Enterprise, she was really taken aback at how identical the re-creation was. She stated that it reminded her of the way she felt like the first time that she ever stepped onto the Star Trek bridge set so many years ago. She’s very proud of the work. I only saw a few minutes of this new movie, but I hope its good.

She also recounted the tale of when the first season of the show was over and she’d turned in her resignation that Friday to Gene Roddenberry. Her reason for this was her desire to return to theater, as she considered her stint on TV as just a resume enhancement. Gene asked her if she knew what he was trying to accomplish and told her he wouldn’t accept her resignation until Monday, when he’d accept her decision one way or the other. She had to attend some banquet (she believes it was an NAACP one) and was informed that her biggest fan wanted to say hello. So she turned to see this biggest fan and saw Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She continued looking for the fan, but in fact he was said fan. When he learned of her plans to quit the show, he talked her out of it as the show displayed a future where blacks, whites, men, and women all worked together as equals. She told Gene this and he was thankful someone got what he was trying to do.

The story made her tear up as well as a few others in the audience. Sadly, that was all the time we had for her since she arrived so late and allowing her to do a full hour would have placed the next presenter with almost no time at all. Next time she comes, I hope she makes it on time as she’s worth an hour or more.

Starfest 2008 – 07

Nana Visitor’s Kira Nerys is the one character that I think came the furthest growth-wise on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. So while I skipped on her cabaret performance on Friday night (which even had it not cost extra, I still would have skipped it), I was very keen to see her on Sunday.

If you’ve seen DS9 and know Major (then Colonel) Kira, you’ll know the bright smile she would have at times. Nana has that same smile and same reaction when people complimented her or the like. She just seemed such a warm, genuine person that the next time I watch DS9, the Kira character will mean more to me.

We learned that Nana is currently living in New Mexico with her husband Matthew. They were dating and living in New York when 9-11 struck. She informed the audience that she new she was going to marry him when they went to get her kids from school, only to be caught in deadlock traffic. His encouragement to her after she decided to run and get her kids was what ultimately did it for her and now, the two do a lot of musical stuff together apparently.

She talked about her time on DS9 and how much she enjoyed it. She wanted so much to be Starfleet and wear their cool uniforms, but didn’t get the chance until season 7. She had hoped that she would remain Starfleet from there on, but alas, that was not to be. She hated the Intendant uniform for several reasons, including how loud it was to move in. She was somewhat offended when Michael Dorn (Worf) was brought over from Star Trek: The Next Generation to reprise his character on DS9. However, in the end, she and the rest of the cast agreed that he was a great addition to the cast.

She talked about how much she hated Dukat personally, so that Dukat’s actor, Marc Alaimo, paid for it. For several years, she never saw Marc out of makeup due to the fact that when she went in for her own makeup, his mask was already on. However, she invited Marc over for dinner at her home once (I think as part of a dinner party, but don’t quote me on that) and got to know the man. After that, she no longer treated Marc badly in his Dukat makeup.

In the episode “Take Me Out to the Holosuite,” Nana talked of how because she wasn’t a sports person, the crew assumed they’d be there for a while since her character was supposed to get a hit. Fortunately for her, she did get one right away, and was carried off the field on the shoulders of the crew in response.

Nana revealed that in the episode “Crossover,” she had what she referred to as “traffic cones” to cover her breasts up in the milk bath scene since she’s not down for nude stuff. She used a special glue (and a lot of it, leaving her feeling “secure”) to keep these cones on. However, after hours of shooting in the bath, the cones started coming loose, which she says the look on her face in the scene when she starts to exit the bath is a result of that. Apparently, in addition to providing warm water for Nana to sit in, they put orange oil in the bath for her. Orange oil apparently is what dissolves that special glue.

There was also talk of Nana’s series Wildfire (which lead her to move to New Mexico with her family), her work in theater, and her work on the series Dark Angel. She mention that she’s in an (upcoming) episode of Battlestar Galactica (“Sine Qua Non”). She also mentioned that she would love to be in a DS9 movie providing they remained true to the series and did not do some Christmas special or the like.

I really enjoyed Nana’s appearance and as I stated earlier, next time I watch DS9, I’ll have a greater appreciation of her role in the series.

Starfest 2008 – 06

Zachary Quinto was an unknown actor to me until Lepidus, Tacos Rule, my sister, and others told me how much I needed to watch the series Heroes. He plays the psychotic Sylar in Heroes and while the character was supposedly only supposed to be in for a few episodes, the fan reaction to the character ensured that he remained on the show. He talked about how the role changes how people view him as a person, but as an actor, he’s able to divorce himself from the character of Sylar (though he did have one moment in season 2 where his character commits a brutal murder, and Zachary needed to take a break after that).

While fans were clearly hungry for Heroes stuff, there was an equal hunger for the new Star Trek movie, coming out next summer. For those who don’t know, the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie features the original TV series crew going back before the TV series time line-wise. Because of his role as Sylar, that opened the door for him to be cast in the role of Spock. Zachary talked about being Spock, but was very careful to not give away one single plot point.

Zachary talked a bit about his theater background and his desire to continue doing some of that work. He wants to do more stuff other than science fiction though. I think something the surprised the audience somewhat is the very real threat of an actor’s strike. Apparently, the studios are currently not ramping up production on stuff not already on the docket due to the potential of a strike. The Internet and digital distribution of works is a sticking point in the union’s craw, just as it was for the writers. He felt that with Hollywood still recovering from the writers strike, he didn’t feel it would survive an actors strike.

I found Zachary’s delivery style to be a bit dull. Do I think he was bored or didn’t want to be there? No. Its just the way he speaks tended to be a bit monotonous to me for some reason. I don’t have to worry about him reading this, because he apparently avoids reading about himself or his projects on the Internet.

Starfest 2008 – 05

Adam Baldwin is a character that I’ve liked for a long time. The character of Animal Mother in Full Metal Jacket made an impact to be sure, with him having some very quotable lines. I’ve liked him in everything I’ve seen him in, especially in Firefly. So catching his presentation was a must for myself (Lepidus as well).

There were many “Browncoats” (fans of the Firefly sereis) in the crowd, as one might expect. They were supposed to sing the song “The Hero of Canton” from the episode “Jaynestown.” In case you haven’t heard the song, here’s the clip from the episode where the song is sung.

These fans of the series who were supposed to sing this song completely and utterly FAILED! So as they are struggling and the rest of us are squirming uncomfortably, we hear Adam’s voice come over the speakers in Jayne-style, telling the crowd, “You gotta be kidding me!” He voiced his sentiments on the singing again before coming out. He apparently knew the words of the song because as the struggle to finish the song went on, he was singing the words.

There’s no doubt that Adam was the best presenter on Saturday. He was very funny and had the crowd laughing frequently, all without putting down fans or anything like that. (He did joke about drinking with fans after he got to Denver. I guess he was down in the bar last night.) When he cited Firefly as one of the highlights of his career, I believed it. While he clearly remembered all of his previous works, his speaking of Firefly contained a real fondness of not only the show, but the fans as well. He even visited a fan-run message board from time-to-time and his favorite thread was the nitpickers thread. He was amazed by what fans knew. He teased the fans as being nuts, but included himself in that category. He even throws Firefly references into his current series, Chuck.

His favorite episode of Firefly was not “Jaynestown,” but “Out of Gas” and “War Stories.” He liked the villain character of Niska a lot.

Apparently, $3-million is what prevented more Firefly from being produced. As I understood it, had the movie made that much more money in its theatrical release, the TV series would have been brought back. I got the impression that should something come up with the series again (another movie or TV series), he would be back in a flash if at all possible.

While there were many questions about Adam’s career (including his voice actor work), it wasn’t until near the end of the presentation that anyone asked him about Chuck, at which point he received three questions about that series.

The hour passed by rather rapidly and some fan won an autographed copy of the Serinity movie at the end of it. I like Adam even more as an actor now.

Starfest 2008 – 04

I liked Anne Lockhart as Sheba on the original Battlestar Galactica, so I was interested in seeing her presentation. For some bizarre reason, people didn’t go to the sides where the mics were to ask her questions, but instead sat and yelled out questions. Why the Starfest people didn’t tell people to come up to the mics, I don’t know.

Anyway, it was interesting to learn that she had been considered for the series from its inception. However, despite not currently working at the time, she turned down the offer because her role was rather limited. That changed when Jane Seymour’s character was gone and they had an opening for a new character. Fortunately for us, the character of Sheba was written so that Anne accepted and the rest is history.

Her favorite episode of the original BSG was the final one, “The Hand of God.” At the time the episode was shot, they apparently did not know that it would be their last one.

One moment that had her unable to control her laughter was in “War of the Gods” where the Count Iblis character had lines that stated something along the lines of “you will always be safe with me inside you.” While the line was not written to be a sexual one, the clear sexual innuendo kept cracking up the two actors. They did manage to get the line recorded, but naturally, the network rejected it.

Anne also talked about her mother June Lockhart as well as some of her other work, including voice actor work. What I didn’t know was that she was some (or all) of the chimps in Project X. She did the Predator noises in Predator 2. She did various background people talking in many other movies. I honestly didn’t know that kind of thing happened.

She was asked about the new Battlestar Galactica series and her thoughts on it. Apparently, because she lives in the boonies, she doesn’t get it on her satellite dish (which I found a bit odd, but then she may have some package where she doesn’t get the channel). However, whenever she travels, she does watch it and as such, she had watched several episodes, including (apparently) the new episodes for this season. She likes the new series but pointed out that comparisons between the old and new really aren’t possible considering when they were made. If asked, she would gladly do a guest star stint on the new series though.

Her 50-minutes passed fairly quickly, which surprised me. I thought it might be a struggle for her to do her time, but she did a good job.

Starfest 2008 – 03

Dave McDonnell (Starlog magazine editor) came back to do his usual Trailer Park presentation, though apparently he had to be talked back into coming this year. With studios now doing Internet exclusive initial releases for trailers, combined with the fact that one can simply look at any trailer he brought online, he doesn’t see much of a need in his 1.5-hour presentation. I disagree, if for no other reason than I enjoy hearing him speak on certain titles.

I digress.

Two trailers into the presentation, Dave is starting to set up the 3rd when this loud, obnoxious group of people started making a big stink about their reserved seats having been taken. The rules of the place are that if you have a reserved seat, you better arrive WELL before the presentation or event starts. After a certain point, regular ticket holders with no reserve seating are allowed to come forward to the better, unoccupied reserve seats and the event starts.

Regardless, the “Jethro” family was late and a couple of the males were going to make sure we all knew about it. Dave got angry and nearly walked out, promising that this was his last Starfest. Kevin Atkins, Master of Ceremonies, immediately tried to gain control of things. The Jethro’s didn’t want to be settled down and demanded that the Star Trek trailer be replayed for them (the first trailer in the presentation). So Dave replayed it for them, still very angry.

However, after that, Dave calmed down and we didn’t hear from the Jethro’s after that.

Movie-wise, there are a few titles I’m interested in for which we were shown trailers — Iron Man (rental), Hulk (rental), Batman (rental) the new Star Trek (though that’s next summer), Indiana Jones, and Chronicles of Narnia sequel. Beyond that, I don’t recall anything really stirring me up.

So, it looks like next year there will be no trailers, or at least Dave won’t be there.

The Hug Patrol

I have to say that one of the oddest things at Starfest this year is the “Hug Patrol.” There is a group of about four or five underage, pretty, petite girls in various sci-fi costume (one as Six of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager) carrying around placards with “Free Hugs” on them. They are mildly aggressive in their approach, and they don’t care if you are some overweight sci-fi geek (the only thing they seemed to care about is body odor).

Now, being a 38-year old male, I’m old enough to be these girls father (remember, said girls are underage). I don’t know these girls. So, no matter how “hot” they may be, they aren’t touching me,.

A little bit ago, I’m in the elevator with said girls (who held up the process of our boarding the elevator by attempting to embrace every male that left the elevator) and I’m thinking, “What’s the point of this little exercise on their part? Are they practicing for an eventual shift into a life as escorts, where they will dress up as your favorite sci-fi chick and you can indulge a sexual fantasy? Are there hidden cameras so that they can try to blackmail some men who get a bit too friendly with the hug?”

I wanted to ask the question, but my desire to NOT have them touch me outweighed my curiosity. IF they are around tomorrow, I may ask the purpose.

Maybe I’m just being overly cynical. However, I think back to a recent story on TV where a Dade County (Florida) police investigator talked about the number of underage girls (as young as 12) producing their own porn for the Internet (which you know what kind of porn that becomes…the very illegal kind). They either getting angry with the police for stopping their webcam (or other digital media) activities or not seeing what the big deal is about their showing off naked or engaging in sex on the Internet. Now, maybe the Hug Patrol is innocent, but I can’t help but think of a certain ugly underside.

Update: On Sunday, some nerdy guys were part of the Hug Patrol. Lepidus informs me that of the guys was doing it yesterday, but I apparently hadn’t been paying attention. I still didn’t bother to ask what the heck was up, though I was tempted.

Starfest 2008 – 02

Masi Oka (Heroes) and Nate Torrence (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) just did their studio presentation for the move Get Smart (which I won’t be seeing, thank you very much). We got to see a 7-minute clip, which naturally started with Masi and Nate’s characters being featured. People screamed with laughter during the clip. I, however, smiled once and that was it. Extremely predictable humor is not funny to me. If you want to make me laugh, change things up or do the unexpected. Then again, I was a minority in a room of people laughing so loud at times, one would have thought they were starved for comedy.

Anyway, we were told repeatedly, “Do NOT ask Masi questions about Heroes.” That’s because he was only there to promote Get Smart. So, what was the first question? About Heroes.

The second question was even worse. “When is the 2nd season of Heroes going to come out?”

“On DVD?” asked Masi?

“On TV,” came the response.

Lepidus and I couldn’t believe our ears, nor could most of the other folks in the room (99% of whom where there to see Masi) seeing as how season 2 came and went long, long ago.

In the end, about 1/3 of the questions were about Heroes. I guess some people just think, “Screw that! I’m going to ask what I’m going to ask.”

Masi and Nate were cool about everything though and the most intelligent question came from Lepidus, who asked them to talk about their characters in the movie. Both Masi and Nate immediately perked up at this and really went into their characters and how on the straight-to-video extra that will come out 10-days after the movie hits the theater, Masi and Nate’s characters are featured there. So kudos to Lepidus!

Masi and Nate also had a little fun, both having a clear grasp of comedy. When Masi’s mic went out and an attractive staff member had to replace it, Nate picked up on the fun of things, wondering if he should even be seeing this.

I took some pictures, but don’t have time to upload them to the PC, check them, or resize them for posting at the moment. Anne Lockhart (the original Battlestar Galactica) is onstage in a few minutes, so Lepidus and I are about to head down. I’ll get pictures added to this post (and others) later.