Galileo 7 Con 2004
by Bernd and Crissy
This is an incomplete and not necessarily accurate report on the Galileo 7 Con that took place in Neuss, Germany, from October 1 to October 3, 2004. We focus on the panels with the stars, for we feel this was the most exciting and most informative part of the Con. We were there only on Saturday, so we may have missed quite a few interesting things though.
We were late for his session. But aside from not really knowing anyway which roles he played exactly (which I admit was our fault, he was in DS9: "The Siege of AR-558"), we did not have the impression of having missed a lot. The last 15 minutes focused on things like the work of his production company and on having or imitating Irish accents, while Patrick was sitting largely motionless on a chair.
Icheb! Manu was a lot like we would have expected him to be. Like everyone else, he had quite a few fun stories to tell. The best was about a stiff Englishman who was sitting next to him on a plane, and the guy seemed to look down on the young "dirty American" all the time. But after a while the Brit came forward and said "You're from Voyager!", and there was a little bit less of a prejudice in the world. Manu proved to be very much in support of the fans when he declared that the movie "'Trekkies' did a terrible job", the reason being that 98% of the fans are intelligent, working, normal people and the "media focus on the 2% weirdoes". Furthermore Manu mentioned that he did a Burger King commercial, and he lamented that for these few seconds of just running across the screen he got more money than for his last two movies combined. By the way, although he hardly wore make-up in the series, Manu looks so awfully "normal" that we didn't notice him on the party among all the mostly male fans of his age.
J.G. Hertzler & Robert O'Reilly
I had heard of their stage show before. But now seeing it with my own eyes, these guys are *completely crazy*. They are masters in crossing the border to utter silliness and still staying funny. Whether they try to pronounce German words like "Huhn" (=chicken) or practice martial arts with bat'leths and a mek'leth (which they took from Klingon fans that had gathered near the stage), they were always hilarious. Usually Hertzler is doing the "productive" part of the show speaking to the audience, while O'Reilly is running around playing the clown. Well, there were questions too. A fan asked what had happened to the Klingon foreheads. Hertzler: "We do know but we can't tell you. We would have to kill you." Another fan inquiry was about the Tribbles. Hertzler: "Klingons ate all the Tribbles. That's how they got their hair balls."
But the best of all was their Klingon rap, complaining that too few Klingon roles are available on Star Trek lately. Forget all the adolescent wannabe musicians out there when you can have two rocking warriors in their best years! Only their "chicken show" with O'Reilly and Hertzler playing two roosters (Hertzler was the old one, O'Reilly won) in a competition to please as many chickens as possible ("Thankyoulady, thankyoulady,...") was not really amusing. Still, at the bar of the Con Party past midnight, they were surrounded by half a dozen young chicks of at most 20 years. There must be something about them.
Vaughn Armstrong is a rather calm guy when he's talking, but he surprises with his musical performance as a master of the ukulele. After answering a few questions (there were not that many) he started with the "Enterprise Blues" and performed five more. He will touring with his band which for some reason is named "Enterprise Blues Band", including Casey Biggs, across the USA next year.
He's got shoulder-long hair now. After getting a haircut every week during the run of Voyager, he got tired of it and decided to grow it. His mother hates the new look. I asked my girl-friend, and she didn't like it either, but the audience cheered. Garrett is a fantastic entertainer. Of course, there was the already famous tale of Garrett accidentally grabbing Jeri's boobs, blushing and saying that he thought it was her elbow. Returning from the trailer, Jeri Ryan had post-it notes on her costume saying "--> Not an elbow" and "--> Elbow". This story is already funny enough, but we laughed like mad hearing this from Garrett himself. And then there was the curiosity of dear colleagues who occasionally felt the urge to fart on the set. Especially in a shuttle set. Garrett is also a master of impersonation, his EMH is outstanding.
He also told us how an offhand sexual act on camera helped accelerate the shooting of the Holodoc's "Pon farr" dream sequence from "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy". The filming took place late in the night. Tim Russ had ensured that the camera was running no matter what would happen. While Picardo was singing, Tim raised from his seat like planned, but then screamed "Pon farr!", ran around frantically, headed for the kitchen and grabbed Ethan Phillips... After the laughter had settled, the crew was so motivated that the shooting was finished in no time. Garrett said that he'd earn a fortune if he broke into the Paramount building and got that tape of Tuvok having sex with Neelix from the safe.
The panel with Garrett Wang wouldn't have been complete without the question why Harry Kim was never promoted. Garrett said that he spoke to a Navy officer who told him that after seven years he may have expected to be close to Lt. Cmdr. But no way. Asking Kate Mulgrew about it, she said (imagine him speaking with Janeway's rough voice): "I know, I know". Once a benevolent fan offered him a rank pip. And Garrett added that he had thought of a Voyager episode with Kim sleepwalking through the ship and stealing everyone's rank pip, putting them all on his uniform. But the weirdest story was about a friend of Garrett who sat in another part of the plane. After the flight he came to Garrett together with a man, his seat neighbor, and said "Meet Harry Kim." The guy was actually named Harry Kim, and he had been in the US Navy as Ensign Harry Kim while Voyager was on air. Garrett imagines how often people must have made fun of the true Harry Kim...
A humorous but also worrying anecdote is that Garrett went to Brannon Braga when the American plane had been confiscated by the Chinese, and he suggested that one character on Enterprise, namely Sato, should rather be Chinese than Japanese as a sign of peace. Braga replied: "Look, we've already had a Chinese character." Garrett was confused and asked: "Who?" Braga said: "You!" Obviously it was sufficient that Kim quoted Chinese sayings once or twice on the show to make him Chinese, although Kim is the most typical Korean name one could think of -- which was why the actor had been certain for seven years to play a Korean-American. Garrett noted that mistaking Kim for Chinese was just like saying that Zimmermann was a typical French name.
She had a lot to tell, just like how she became Nurse Ogawa on TNG, how it used to be a problem for Asian-looking actors to get good roles (which has improved, also thanks to TNG) and what she thought of the fans in Germany. It was informative, but I admit listening to Patti's endless monologue was a bit tiresome too.
RenÚ was a real pleasure to listen to all the time, being solemn yet witty. His father came from the French-speaking part of Switzerland. When RenÚ was at school in the USA, the other kids used to make fun of his first name because they thought it was a girl's name. But he doesn't really speak French ("Well, I can say my name").
His casting for DS9 was a long procedure. Actually, it was not yet clear how Odo was supposed to look. Still, many of the responsible people had been thinking of a younger actor. Although Rick Berman was convinced of him as soon as after the first casting round and Michael Piller after the second one, they still had convince a high-ranking Paramount official.
Naturally, there were questions about Odo's make-up. This initially consisted of many separate pieces with a tendency to fall off. One day, RenÚ suggested that it should be rather a one-piece mask. But Michael Westmore objected that Rick Berman didn't want to have masks. So they went ahead, avoiding the work "mask" and got Berman to agree with it. The make-up is a mask since the beginning of the second season. When they were about to film the scene when Odo has demolished his quarters out of jealousy (DS9: "Crossfire"), RenÚ took a lock of his otherwise extremely slick Odo hair and let it hang down his forehead. He felt that it was the right thing to show Odo's emotional state. Although it was intended that a Changeling never looked different, this detail made it into the episode. RenÚ also said that he was very pleased with how the final episode "What You Leave Behind" came out, with a rather sad ending for Kira's and Odo's love. He only didn't like the one detail that he was wearing a tuxedo while entering the Great Link. He thought of that as a silly idea. Overall, one thing he was not content of in DS9 was that so many episodes had a war theme. He would have wished to see some new concept instead of killing millions in an old-fashioned war. On the topic of Colonel West in "Star Trek VI", RenÚ didn't know that eventually the cut scene made it into the video release until a fan told the surprised actor at a Con.
She is simply charming, and I bet that she could have been talking about tax laws, and I would have still listened attentively. But it was all very interesting. And as one fan told her, she looked stunning, especially with the glasses she was wearing. Naturally one question was how she felt about playing the "Evil Kira" (the Intendant). Nana said that it was a lot of fun, just like she enjoyed playing the part of "Madam X" on "Dark Angel". And she added that there were never more people on the set than while shooting the scene of "Evil Kira" kissing Ezri Dax.
However, the most hilarious anecdote, probably the best of the whole day was about an accident she had during the first season. She was already in Bajoran make-up. It had been raining in L.A., she slipped and fell on a metal staircase. No, that's not funny. But when Nana was taken to a hospital with a hurting back, a young doctor came to treat her. "So you had a fall. OH MY GOD YOUR NOSE!" Nana explained: "That's because I have a role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." The doctor: "I knew that. I've had all of the stars here before." One (of the usual?) questions was how it felt like to kiss (Odo) through several layers of rubber. She just said, "Very safe." Oh, and her two sons (Buster and Django) were frequently present on the DS9 sets. This may explain why one of them, when asked where he was born, swiftly said "Star Trek, Los Angeles."
Before Stewart could enter the stage, our host RenÚ (he's not a girl either) appeared. Concerned that something unpleasant might happen, he admonished us to follow the rules and not to behave like some people who had harassed Stewart at the airport (When asked about the incident, Stewart later played it down and said it was just some nice fans). After his trailer had been shown on the big screen, Stewart appeared in person. Around 2000 fans were cheering. The aisles were full of people trying to get a photo and the big screen was permanently illuminated by all the flash lights so it was hard to recognize Stewart at all. The first thing he said was that he'd like to see the video himself, because the way how he is announced matters to him. But then the trailer ran without audio because of technical difficulties. RenÚ came and made a wry remark that Stewart just wanted to see the video. But having seen the complete trailer with sound, Patrick could start telling stories, and referring to one small take in the trailer where he's smoking (and doesn't like it at all), he said that smoking was outlawed on TNG and the he smuggled the cigarette onto the set.
Patrick spoke only briefly of his recent surgery. He said that "Like a good captain, I have a little piece of metal right here", pointing to his chest. "The Inner Light" is his favorite episode of TNG, because this put the character in an unusual environment, and he had to show how Picard copes with that. Another of his favorites is "Chain of Command", especially since he was playing with David Warner (as Gul Madred) who used to be in the Royal Shakespeare Company. Patrick also told us that he enjoyed undressing in front of the staff for that episode ;-). On the topic of the voices in dubbed versions of TNG, he said that he had heard quite a few of them, like the Italian or the German version. "I never thought I spoke languages so well." The last TNG episode, "All Good Things", was certainly something special yet not too sad since the movie "Generations" was already in the making when the episode was shot. Everyone was hoping for the poker scene being filmed last, but that was not possible in the schedule. But there is at least one thing to remember when Brent Spiner spontaneously came up with the famous last line of the series, "Sky is the Limit".
Patrick Stewart also talked about film projects other than Star Trek. Asked about David Lynch's "Dune" from 1984, he said that they were shooting in the desert, and no one of the crew really had an idea what they were doing. But in retrospect, he appreciates that time very much, especially because he met Kyle MacLachlan, a fine actor who is still a good friend today. Furthermore Patrick told us that he will be back for "X-Men III".
One fan question was why Patrick loves Shakespeare so much. He hesitated, looked at his watch, grinned and then explained it as a genetic trait. Like taste, the fondness of literature is something unpredictable. Patrick Stewart can't tell why he doesn't like cooked mushrooms or the scent of marzipan (the latter quite contrary to my girl-friend who likes him nonetheless) but why he enjoys to smell tomatoes. Anyway, at the age of twelve he discovered Shakespeare. And now he is about to award a honorary doctor degree to the teacher who led him to appreciate Shakespeare, which he says will probably be the proudest moment of his life.
Patrick Stewart visibly had a lot of fun with the fans at the microphone, but he never made fun at their expense. When a Klingon came, he said "I must warn you. I have dealt with your kind before." But he also asked a girl in Borg dress why she would run around like that, as she would look quite lovely without all that stuff. Then a Picard doppelganger came to the microphone, a young guy obviously suffering from hair loss. Stewart said that he lost his hair when he was 19. No doubt Stewart's panel was the greatest of the day, although the shows of some other actors were quite as good, it was just something extraordinary to see him on stage (and still better than we had expected). Patrick earned standing ovations.
Reiner Sch÷ne will always be remembered as the only German ever to appear in a credited role on Star Trek (Esoqq in TNG: "Allegiance"). Recently he gained appreciation for playing in the mindless science-fiction spoof "(T)Raumschiff Surprise - Periode 1". On the Con stage, he performed a couple of songs like a "Happy Birthday" he had written for his girl-friend five years ago and he also read an excerpt from his book. The chapter was about the lasting effect of wine and garlic on him and his tour staff that ended in the devastation of the once tidy and peaceful town of Baden-Baden.
Surprise stage play
We also watched J.G. Hertzler, Robert O'Reilly, Vaughn Armstrong, Garrett Wang and Reiner Sch÷ne in an improvised stage play. The topics were provided by our host RenÚ and were to be turned into something funny in a matter of seconds. If was funny for the most part, but overall too long, and a bit more preparation would have been good to avert the total chaos that developed towards the end.
By all means, we are likely to visit the next Galileo 7 Con too, even if it is without Patrick Stewart. The location will be the same, and it's barely 15 minutes to drive anyway. :-)