Starfest 2007 — Leonard Nimoy

The main reason I decided to come to Starfest 2007 was Leonard Nimoy. The chance to see the man who played Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek series was one I couldn’t pass up. Indeed, had he not come, I doubt I would have gone to Starfest this year at all.

To have Mr. Nimoy autograph something cost $60 and to have one’s picture taken with the man was another $60. Marc and I both passed on this. However, there were countless fans who didn’t pass on this. There were easily over 100 people in line to have a picture with the man and nearly as many to have something autographed by him. That’s a lot of money that was raked in. Take a look at this picture of the crowd in line for his autograph while a fire alarm screams all around them.

Keep in mind, the line extends well beyond the range of this shot. Look at how the people below are unconcerned about the possibility of being BURNED ALIVE. Even though hotel staff were saying to evacuate and we were making our way to go down a level and leave the building, these folks weren’t going to budge for an opportunity to speak in person with Spock, shake his hand, and have him sign something.

About30-minutes before Mr. Nimoy was to speak, Marc and I made our way to the main room. There was supposed to be some sort of presentation from another actor that I didn’t know going on, but strangely enough, it was already over when we got to the room. Because Marc didn’t spring for the good (reserved) seats like me, he was blocked at the door but I was allowed in. However, Marc did get some good photos though.

As you might expect, the place was packed to the gills. I was amused by an older woman (I’d say in her 50’s for sure) in her scooter with her working dog (I don’t think she was blind but she did clearly have an issue with her legs). The staff cleared a chair for her to park her scooter in, which she did like a pro. However, what amused me was that she actually looked pretty good in her classic red Star Trek uniform. Indeed, I saw another fan appear to flirt with her a bit and he was likely 10-years younger than her. Wild, wacky stuff.

Anyway, Mr. Nimoy came out and clearly had the air of having done this before (duh!). He told us the story of many years ago going to some state (Minnesota or Montana, I can’t remember which) to speak at a small college and ending up taking a call from “Sally” right after he arrived at the hotel. Apparently she figured out which of the three hotels he was staying at and got his room number, and thus called him, very excited to speak with him. He asked where she was calling from and she said “Denver.” He swears it is a true story. Whether it was or wasn’t, the crowd love for Mr. Nimoy went up several notches.

He told us that he’s retired from acting and directing and spends his time doing photography now. He stated that he’s been asked to play on Boston Legal (where William Shatner has a staring role) but has turned them down. In addition to not wanting to show Shatner up, he stated that Shatner needed the work because “he invested heavily in horses.” Apparently hay costs a lot of money. The crowd took this to be a polite and funny way of saying that Shatner has a gambling problem.

He then told the story of how he and Tom Hanks were in a parking lot somewhere and a fan came up all excited to see Mr. Hanks. He asked to have his picture taken with Mr. Hanks, who agreed. Upon noticing Mr. Nimoy, the fan excitedly stated how he loved Mr. Nimoy’s photography and asked him to take the picture. So, as Mr. Nimoy put it, “somewhere out there, a fan has a picture of himself with Tom Hanks, taken by Leonard Nimoy.”

Mr. Nimoy also told of how Shatner was a practical joker and a joke he pulled on DeForrest Kelley by stealing his English muffins from the toaster repeatedly.

During the question and answer session, Mr. Nimoy worked through the questions efficiently. He was clearly used to this kind of event (duh!) and I was impressed. There were all sorts of questions asked, not only about Star Trek, but other projects he’s done over the years. He did stated that he’d be willing to return to Star Trek if they had a meaningful role for him to play as Spock. He also mentioned how he might have veto power over who plays Spock in the new Star Trek movie.

We didn’t get a lot of “cringe questions,” but two did stick in my mind. The first was a question asking Mr. Nimoy where Spock was in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis. In case you don’t know, there was a 2-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Spock’s character went to Romulus and remained there in the end to work with the Romulan people. In Nemesis, the Romulans have a central role with the people of Remus taking the villain role. Mr. Nimoy seemed tempted to have some fun with this because how would he know what the writers would intend for his character. But he came up with some non-answer answer and moved on.

The worst question was a young lady who seriously asked how Mr. Nimoy would feel if she became cold and emotionless — would this offend him. This seemed to floor him (though his hearing may not be what it was) and as he quizzed her on her question, she began to backtrack and say that this was a hypothetical question. In the end, Mr. Nimoy stated that in moderation, emotions were good and he liked his emotions, so she should just do it in moderation (I really wish I could have recorded his actual words as they were much better than I’m portraying).

A couple of other interesting things that happened was the revelation that Mr. Nimoy donates the money he gets from these events to his charitable foundation for the arts. The other interesting item was when a 5th grade teacher told Mr. Nimoy that her class loved him. At first, he thought she was putting him on since he was under the impression that the original Star Trek was no longer on TV. However, not only is the original on cable, the remastered version (with new special effects) is on syndication. When he learned this, he was touched by the fact that 5th grade students would be watching the series and loving it so many years after the show was made.

The hour was up all to quickly and was a lot of fun. I was glad we came because hearing Mr. Nimoy speak was certainly worth it.

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