Comic Con

Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion highlights New Orleans event

Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con will see another of this year’s 25th anniversary reunions of the original Star Trek: The Next Generation cast.

Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden and John de Lancie are among the Wizard World guests this weekend at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Star Trek: The Next Generation reunions previously took place at Austin Comic Con in October and Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo in Canada. The reunion in New Orleans is at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Cast members also are participating in three question and answer sessions.

“Now that Patrick’s back in London, we don’t see him as much as we would like,” Sirtis, the British actress who portrayed series character Counselor Deanna Troi, said a few weeks ago from an appearance in San Diego. “So, for the whole cast to be together is a big treat for us.”

Unfortunately, Patrick Stewart, who played The Next Generation’s Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, has canceled his expected appearance at Wizard World New Orleans.

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, featuring the Next Generation cast as well as comic book legend Stan Lee (creator of Spider-Man, X-Men and The Avengers), The Walking Dead cast member Michael Rooker and television’s Batman, Adam West, drew overwhelming crowds.

Lee and Rooker also are among the galaxy of guests appearing in New Orleans. The weekend’s huge list of talent features additional The Walking Dead actors Norman Reedus and Jon Bernthal, Kevin Sorbo from television’s Hercules, Eliza Dushku from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and many others.

The Next Generation cast reunions are tied to the series’ 25th anniversary Blu-ray editions. Following the July 24 release of season one, season two will be available Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Of course, the series’ success flew in the face of the many naysayers who said it wouldn’t fly, even with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry aboard for The Next Generation’s 1987 launch.

“We all thought we would do a year and then we’d be gone,” Sirtis recalled. “A lot of the fans were very skeptical. Some of them were quite hostile. They were happy watching reruns and they felt that we were usurping their affections. It took about two years for them to come around.”

Dorn, who played the popular Lt. Worf in the series, said cast members didn’t let the negativity distract them.

“We were kind of taken aback by the animosity and the skepticism but, to our credit, we really didn’t care,” he said. “We were there to do a job and to be dedicated actors and artists. That’s all we really cared about, getting the part right.”

Neither Dorn nor Sirtis anticipated the success their second-generation Star Trek achieved.

“We just thought it was gonna go on for a couple of years, that we’d make some money and go on to our next job,” Dorn said.

Casting always being essential, The Next Generation cast jelled from day one, Sirtis said.

“I think it was the chemistry that we had,” she said. “I remember laughing so hard on the first day of filming. I thought we were all going to be fired and they were going to hire new people. We were having too much fun. We just clicked.”

Dorn and his brother enjoyed watching the first Star Trek series during its original 1960s run. The future Worf and his friends at college also watched the series daily during the 1970s, when it became phenomenally popular in syndication.

“It was fun and we got to be knowledgeable about it, but we weren’t Trekkies,” Dorn said.

But Sirtis, an actress whose early acting career was in British TV and theater, had never seen a Star Trek episode prior to donning her Starfleet uniform.

“To be honest, I’m not a big sci-fi fan,” she admitted. “So I didn’t watch any of the original shows. I didn’t watch all of our shows either. I do appreciate that we are here by the grace of the original cast but, and I know I’m biased, I really do believe that our show is the best.”

Before he wore the Starfleet uniform as Lt. Worf, Star Trek follower Dorn particularly liked the series’ disrupters of peace in the universe, the Klingons.

“There was a whole group of people who loved the Klingons back in the original days,” he said. “I was one of them. In those days, we grew up playing Army and war, so that was really part of our upbringing.

“But also I think that people loved the underdog, the fish out of water, who doesn’t understand things. Along with that, Worf became a funny character. He was humorous but he didn’t know that he was funny. The show’s producers found themselves laughing uncontrollably about stuff that Worf did. He’s also honorable and strong and brave. Without being a superhero, he’s as close as he can get.”

Dorn and Sirtis are looking forward to their Next Generation reunion in New Orleans.

“I’ve been to New Orleans before,” Sirtis said. “It’s an absolutely wonderful city and we’re all going to eat way too much while we’re there.”