Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Star Trek Convention Friday: DS9 Panel

Picture 1: The entire DS9 panel: Casey Biggs, Armin Shimmerman, Marc Alaimo, Colm Meaney, Cirroc Lofton, René Auberjonois and Jeffrey Combs with Creation Entertainment's Adam Malin who acted as presenter.
Picture 2: Casey Biggs and Armin Shimmerman
Picture 3: René Auberjonois and Jeffrey Combs
Picture 4: Jeffrey Combs and Chase Masterson

My friday at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention started in the main theatre called the Gene and Majel Roddenberry theatre with the Star Trek: DS9 panel. Many people were already sitting in their seats, waiting with trepidation for it to start. Everytime an actor was called and walked on stage, he was met with thunderous applause. It was one of the largest panels of the entire convention with seven members of the show present on stage all at once: Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko), Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat), Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun), René Auberjonois (Odo), Armin Shimmerman (Quark), Casey Biggs (Gul Damar) and Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien). It was followed by a very lovely moment at the beginning when the panel members told us about Cirroc’s birthday and people in the audience spontaneously started singing happy birthday to him.

The round of questions quickly began and the actors then talked about what they were doing now: Jeffrey Combs is doing a one man show on Edgar Allan Poe, René Auberjonois opened a show on his art photography and drawings, Cirroc Lofton is recording rap music, Colm Meaney is working hard doing movies, Marc Alaimo is enjoying life and building a studio, Armin Shimmerman is back in the theatre where he directed Twelfth Night (he and his wife are very much involved in the theatre) and Casey Biggs runs a foundation and lives in the Hudson Valley. At this point Chase Masterson (Leetah) had shown up on stage to join the boys where she discussed a new movie she had recently produced.

Quite a few interesting stories were told but some of them really stood out for their humour and fun. One such story was from René Auberjonois who mentioned that it was ''okay'' to work with Armin Shimmerman, which drew many laughs, and that he thought that his love scene should have been with Quark (again more laughter) because they worked a lot together and because they did become friends. More hilarity ensued when René later told the audience about the ability he had had to make bubbles with his Odo makeup by blowing air through his nose. The miming during the telling of the story made it even more hilarious.

Colm Meaney also talked about how he hated it when he had to be put into Klingon makeup. He recalled that Michael Dorn was at first happy that Meaney had to go through the process, but that later he no longer wanted him to be put in makeup because he had to endure Colm’s whining and complaining in the makeup chair next to him. Believe me when I say that the audience completely relish these types of stories. Humour and laughter are what drives everyone at these panels, to the delight of the fans.

Casey Biggs then mentioned that Marc Alaimo basically created what Cardassisans were, a statement that drew a big round of appreciative applause from the audience. Among other interesting facts that we learned, we also found out that Jeffrey Combs owes his DS9 appearances to René Auberjonois, while the reason why René now does conventions is because he had to replace Colm Meaney for a convention once.

Armin Shimmerman also talked about the last episode of DS9. He says what was touching about it, was that they got to see Cirroc grow up in the montage, and that everyone on the cast felt a feeling of paternity towards him and that he is proud of him. Cirroc also admitted that his relationship with Avery Brooks was very much like a real father and son relationship, even going on family vacations with him. I am certain these statements elicited a lot of awwww from many in the audience.

Shimmerman then confirmed what has been true of every Star Trek productions: that the actors had no input into the script and that they had to be as close to the script as possible. However, much to everyone’s complete hilarity, Jeffrey Combs admitted that he improvised a lot, to which Armin Shimmerman replied that that was why his character was killed so often.

One interesting tidbit for me was when René Auberjonois said that he had done motion capture for the PS3 game Uncharted and that he found the whole concept and experience fascinating. I'm a huge gamer and I love that game so it's fun to know he's in it.

After what felt like a very short hour, the DS9 panel ended. It was a very good one that showcased the close bond and good humour between these actors. The audience responded with joy and mirth to them, and it made for an entertaining and interesting hour.

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