This weekend, the Grand Slam Convention: Star Trek and Sci-Fi Summit in Burbank will feature a who’s who of science fiction TV personalities, including the stars of “Grimm” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but the real draw will be a public reunion of the cast of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
There are few casts in science fiction (or even all of entertainment) who seem to enjoy each other’s company as much as the “Next Gen” crew. Though the seven main cast members have always remained in touch, they’ve rarely all been gathered together in one place publicly since filming the final “Next Generation” film, “Star Trek: Nemesis,” in 2002.
“We really are a family,” says Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander William Riker on the series. “We’ve stood up for each other at each other’s weddings, are godparents to each other’s kids. So when we get together we act like we’re 20 again. It’s fabulous.”
Last year was the 25th anniversary of the show and Frakes, along with fellow cast members Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn and Gates McFadden came together twice: in Calgary, Alberta, and Austin, Texas. And they plan to continue the fun in Burbank. (Wil Wheaton, who appeared on the series’ first four seasons was unable to attend the Burbank get-together).
Though a recorded version of the cast reminiscing together appeared on the remastered “Next Generation” Season 2 Blu-ray that was released last year, Frakes says it’s nothing compared with the live show.
“That [featurette] was a little staid, I must say,” he says. “The live show becomes like a roast. Nobody is sacred. You really have to have a thick skin, because we go after each other.”
The crew of the USS Enterprise have all moved on to other entertainment endeavors, but they continue to see each other regularly. As Burton explained in an interview last year, “We try and do a Christmas party every year.”
Dorn, a licensed pilot, has taken advantage of the far-flung cast reunions to put in some air miles, flying himself to Calgary in his Cessna 340. It’s a luxury he wasn’t able to indulge in while filming the “Trek” movies.
“During the second year [of the series] I snuck out to Santa Monica to get my license,” Dorn says. “I didn’t tell anybody, because I thought maybe something could happen. I wasn’t sure, but I decided they didn’t need to know. One day, I was going in to start my pre-flight routine and Channel 4 was out there doing a piece about flight traps and they caught me and found out who I was. It was on the news at 4, 5 and 6. When the movies came out, my lawyer was doing my contracts — he was a pilot also — and he knew I’d freak out if I couldn’t fly during the movie. He was very sneaky and he didn’t tell me until I had the pen above the contract, ready to sign.”
Other notable sci-fi personalities appearing at the convention include “Fringe’s” John Noble and Jasika Nicole, “Being Human’s” Sam Witwer, “Teen Wolf’s” Tyler Posey, “Grimm’s” David Giuntoli, “The Vampire Diaries'” Steven R. McQueen, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s” Chase Masterson and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” James Marsters.
The Grand Slam Convention: Star Trek and Sci-Fi Summit will take place Friday through Sunday (Feb. 15-17) at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel. The “Next Generation” cast reunion is Saturday night, with an additional ticket fee of $45.
– Patrick Kevin Day
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