Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: photos and notes from this year’s Starbase Indy, an annual Indianapolis sci-fi convention my wife and I rather enjoy. Last time we showed you the costumes: this time, the guests.
The headliners: two main cast members from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. At far left: Armin Shimerman, who played Quark, the devious Ferengi bartender. At far right: Rene Auberjonois, who played Odo, Changeling security head. If your TV experiences resemble mine, you’ll also know them as Principal Snyder from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Clayton Endicott III from the old sitcom Benson.
Also in the house: Suzie Plakson, known to Trek fans as Worf’s ex-girlfriend K’Ehleyr, Doctor Selar (who served under the unlamented Dr. Pulaski), and a Q who once irked the Voyager crew. Younger TV viewers may know her as Jason Segel’s mom on How I Met Your Mother. (Klingon makeup for this shoot applied by a fellow con guest, makeup artist John Paladin.)
For the curious: Ms. Plakson also appeared at the Friday night opening ceremonies sans headgear.
To be honest, we didn’t recognize the other guests, who included Teryl Rothery from Stargate SG-1, who’s now appearing on the Hallmark Channel series Cedar Cove…
…frequent TV guest-star Jay Acovone (Stargate SG-1, Beauty and the Beast), who previously appeared at SBI in 2011 in this same jacket (okay, so we technically recognized him, but only because he’s been here before)…
…and South African stage actress Musetta Vander, who’s appeared on numerous shows in addition to Stargate SG-1. If I’m not mistaken, this would be the first year Starbase Indy’s Stargate guests outnumbered their Trek guests.
Our returning MC for the weekend: midwest radio DJ Tom Berg.
At the opening ceremonies on Friday night, the guests had a bit of fun: as Berg read Auberjonois’ intro, onto the stage strolled Shimerman instead. A moment later, Auberjonois joined him and insisted Shimerman be introduced to the audience as well. Shimerman stepped to the mike and introduced himself as Avery Brooks.
Shimerman was happy to answer any question that was his right to answer, though only one seemed to require a diplomatic answer (regarding cast attitudes when Nicole DeBoer took over for Terry Farrell in DS9’s seventh season).
Fun Shimerman trivia:
* At North Hollywood’s Antaeus Theatre Company, he currently serves as Associate Artistic Director and is on the Board of Directors alongside fellow Buffy alum Harry Groener (Mayor Wilkins!).
* His long career as a distinctive character actor has served him well in any number of roles where he and/or his voice are instantly recognizable (I can still hear him in my head as Dr. Nefarius in the Ratchet & Clank series).
* His Ferengi makeup application was whittled down to a two-hour process after years of practice.
* The only DS9 episode that ever troubled him was “Profit and Lace”, about which the less said the better.
* He prided the show’s success (and some Trek fans’ unfavorable comparisons of it to “real” Trek shows) on the writers’ heavy focus on relationships — relying on character-driven drama more than plot-driven. My wife and I were 100% fine with this.
Auberjonois was a little more shy and more measured in his responses, but charming nonetheless.
Like Shimerman, Auberjonois acknowledges his “character actor” status, but likewise enjoys a healthy career in voice-acting, where looks don’t matter but talent still does. His decision-making process for accepting roles boils down to whether or not it fulfills two out of three requirements: challenging, fun, and/or paying. He concluded his Q&A by singing “Les Poissons”, his big musical number as the French chef from The Little Mermaid, and effectively won the convention.
In general it was an efficient convention experience — smoothly running lines, gracious guests, no major setbacks caused by staff oversights. If I were allowed just one wish for improvement: the cozy dealers’ room could’ve stood to have a larger space allocated. According to their site, a dealer waiting list was required because the existing space was sold out two months ago. Personally, I would’ve loved a few more geek-based shopping options. Our family has all the decades-old Trek figures we’ll ever need; I’m extremely picky about my T-shirts; any booth carrying Big Bang Theory merchandise is an instant no-sale; and I was really, really hoping to browse through a Doctor Who DVD rack, DVD pile, DVD box, or even a token pair of Doctor Who DVDs lying on the corner of a table. Just one little corner! Alas, I saw nary a sign of any.
We’ll see what next year brings, then. We close here with this group shot of SBI staffers and associates who united on stage Friday night to commemorate twenty-five years, eighteen conventions, eighteen different convention T-shirts, and incalculable levels of dedication, diligence, and sci-fi fandom. Cheers!