Star Trek: The Next Generation Talks About Experience at Star Trek: Mission New York. Some of the crew of the Enterprise comes together at the Star Trek: Mission convention in New York as they share their experience on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Host Jordan Hoffman engages in conversation with cast mates Jonathan Frakes (Commander William Riker), LeVar Burton (Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge), Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi), Michael Dorn (Lt. Commander Worf) and Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher) telling stories on and off the NCC-1701-D set.
Most of the cast started talking about their time in New York for the convention and their interests outside of the show. Marina started discussing the importance of her character Counselor Deanna Troi as she became an important member of the ship as the show introduced the issue of mental health in space travel. She also mentioned her love of soccer and her favorite team Tottenham Hotspurs, a team that she has tattooed on her back to show her dedication to them. Gates McFadden spoke about her love of theater and the experience being “one of the happiest periods of my life.” She went on to talk about being a choreographer and working alongside David Bowie. Describing her time with the late singer/actor, she said he “was a pretty cool man. He was down to earth and pretty smart. Very impressed with him as an artist and person…He’s a genius.”
Jonathan Frakes shared his story about playing the trombone in his spare time. He discussed his skills on the instrument helped him tremendously when he performed with the band Fish, who happened to be fans of Star Trek. Their track with the actor turned into a cut called Riker’s Mailbox, named after his character. Jonathan said he cherished the memory when they gifted him a golden record of his performance. Another achievement he added was getting to direct the film Star Trek: First Contact. He got on the project because he loved the script and acknowledged the horror elements that went into the story.
LeVar Burton talked about his other activities as well, which included his work on Reading Rainbow. Talking about his revived series, he discussed the huge amount of support from fans of his educational series through Kickstarter to bring back the show and incorporate them into schools nationwide. With over 150,000 people funding the project, Burton said that his project helped teachers in giving students the gift of reading with the use of the iPad and Android apps. Burton added the news of his recently launched new online educational service called Reading Rainbow Skybrary for Schools that has the same guidelines as the show but expanding into the classrooms.
The cast then talked about their thoughts on the new Star Trek series coming next spring on CBS. Jonathan simply said he “wished for the best.” He also added that he and the cast would love to come back if given the chance. Marina shared the same views, saying that she would advise the cast to “get ready because you have no idea what you are getting into or expect.” She also jokingly said that if offered a chance to return, she would like to play Majel Barrett’s role as the ship’s computer or as the mother of Majel’s character’s mother.
Michael Dorn discussed his unique experience working on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Talking about what it was like on set of Next Generation, Dorn said that it was fun at the set. After transitioning to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dorn went on to say that the vibe was different there with the serious nature of the show. Even Marina shared her experience walking on set of her co-star’s new show and seeing how different it was to the other show.
At the Q&A part of the panel, the cast talked about how friendly the atmosphere was on set and that no one was butting heads as much. Marina discussed her training on the show, saying that she subscribed to Psychology Today in order to understand the profession of her character. When a fan asked about who their favorite director to work with was, everyone unanimously said Jonathan Frakes. Marina gave praise to her co-star and said he was a very special director to work with. Gates also said she loved working with Jonathan on the episodes. One of the great questions asked by a fan was regarding a spin-off for Dorn’s character Captain Worf. Dorn answered by saying that the new series may undermine the chance for the spin-off, but he said it’s an open possibility.
Lastly, the cast discussed the crazy merchandise that they got on the show. Michael was first to say that he saw disembodied heads at shops and plastic lunchboxes. Everyone agreed that they loved the Pez dispensers as merchandise for the series. The cast also mentioned the action figures and dolls that were made to their likeness. Gates loved the idea and so does her daughter, but Burton said he found it weird to have those available. Jonathan ended the panel with his story on the first trip to a convention at Syracuse in 1987 and found that his action figure ended up as a free toy people can get if they bought another character.
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