Sights, sounds and happenings from Delta Story
The following report contains some of my memories of this weekend. There are several pictures and a few videoclips… the latter may take a while to download when you click them on… BUT I hope you enjoy this humble offering as much as I have enjoyed "reliving" it as I’ve written it.
SETTING THE SCENE: Pre-Ball Activities
My "Starry Night" sister, Diane Smith, her lovely, lively teenkids and I played it up LA style on Friday, October 13 (yeah; it was Friday the thirteenth!) by renting a limo and doing a bit of Lala Land gagaing. Our driver, Daryl, was a chatty guy who was full of information and stories… oh, all right… gossip! Although he hadn’t ever transported any ST actors, there were lots more whom he had: Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Hanks, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Ann Bancroft… He took us by homes of the rich and famous – newer up-in-the-several-million-range homes of Taylor, Nicholas Cage, Hanks, Hugh Hefner’s "Playboy Mansion" – and the more "ordinary" homes of Reiner, former homes of Lucille Ball, Jimmy Stewart, etc. All of the former mentioned places were in the walled-and-gated section of Bel Aire; the other homes had well-manicured yards but were fully visible to all passing by.
After we had drooled enough over all of these places, we did a tour of Rodeo Drive (Diane and I were good; we didn’t buy a single thing! Yeah… sure… like we could even afford to walk through the doors of these shops…)
Posh people and lavish goods were quite evident all around.
Our next stop was Grumann’s Chinese theater and the walk of stars – which goes on and on and on! We got out to walk along here. Interesting thing – newer stars and names are interspersed with older ones; it was most interesting! But then we found the Mother Lode: a Star Trek panel commemorating twenty five years of Star Trek, and surrounded by signatures of the cast of TOS!
Enlarged view of center plaque
Left side of plaque
Right side of plaque
From here, we headed out Hollywood Avenue, following the large "Hollywood" letters on our left, crossed the famous Hollywood and Vine intersection, and then began a winding and twisting road up a mountain to Griffith Park (second only to NY’s Central Park in size of a public park) until we reached the top of the mountain and Griffith Observatory, the site of the observatory in "Future’s End". (Also… if any of you are oldsters like me, scenes from "Rebel Without a Cause" were filmed here, too.) The panoramic vista allowed a breathtaking 300 degree view of the greater Los Angeles area – truly an awesome sight! Unfortunately, the observatory was not open yet for the day.
By this time, we had just about reached the end of our three-hour ride in luxury, so Daryl then wheeled us over to Paramount Studios for the afternoon, where we went on one of their walking tours. The day was absolutely gorgeous… sunny with a cool breeze… perfect for such an activity.
Gate at Paramount Studios
We were told at the beginning, when we asked, that we would not be allowed to go onto the "Voyager" set, but this didn’t preclude some juicy tidbits we learned about all sorts of ST stuff!
As we walked through several administrative-type buildings (named for former Paramount "stars" like Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, etc.), we came to the William Hart (cowboy star from my youth… ha, ha…) building, our guide told us the story of how the fourth floor of this building is supposedly haunted – doors which have been locked are found opened by cleaning crews, etc. Seems that back in the ‘30s, the wife of a producer found out that he was cheating on her, and she came down to his office to catch him in the act. Well, she ended up being killed, and it is said that her ghost walks the halls on this floor. Come to find out, folks, this is the floor of the Voyager writers’ offices! Sorta makes you wonder about the real story behind "The Haunting of Deck Twelve", doesn’t it?
Many television series have been and are now being filmed here at Paramount: "I Love Lucy"; "Happy Days", all of the ST series. Current series include "Frasier", "Dharma and Greg", "ET" and a series new this fall, "That’s Life". We got to go onto a set for the latter – a bar setting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any cold beer – it really would have hit the spot about then! We also saw the "new" Entertainment Tonight! Set, and one for a mid-season replacement show called "Kiss Me, Guido".
By this time, we were towards the back of the lot, and got to see several of the set production areas. To a theater techie like me, it was heaven! We stopped for a moment at a little mini-mart place for something to drink, and one of the group, a woman who was "local", went inside. Shortly after she came out, two older gentlemen exited, talking animatedly. She informed us that they were two of Michael Westmore’s senior make up artists, who worked on "Star Trek". Diane and I sighed; at least we had gotten close to someone on the set. We were following them with our eyes as they walked down the street to the "Voyager" area. The woman then called to us, and we turned to respond to her. She was absolutely beaming at us, just as two very tall actors exited the store – in full makeup and costume, most obviously for a ST:V episode. She told us then that she had seen them inside and could hardly wait for Diane and me to see them. Without divulging too much in the way of secrets, let me just say that one of Voyager’s earliest foes will be making a comeback… and one of these actors had a SF comm badge on his tunic. Doesn’t look good for at least one of our valiant crew, I’m afraid! These two terrific men… whom I’m certain were very handsome under all the latex and sponge hair and red makeup (hint, hint!)… stopped and started talking at length with us. They even filled us in on some of the make-up tricks, and, even though their lips were "sealed" about their particular episode(s), they laughed at how much Diane and I "deduced".
After about ten terrific minutes, our "friends" moved on; but, towards the end of the tour, we passed down the road bisecting several of the "Voyager" sets. "Lounging" along the outside of one of the buildings, all in a row of highbacked chairs, leaning back like a row of good ole boys outside the general store, were our two new "friends" with about 6-8 more of their "kind". Their waves and smiles were most out of character for their alien personas… hee, hee!
We took our weary bodies back to the hotel, where we tried to rest up a bit before a "J/C-a-thon" viewing in my room. Next, we all grabbed a few hours sleep before The Big Day.
TALK, TALK, TALK: Fun and Games with Lots of Guys!
How do you keep 2000+ women happy for hours on end? You give them six gorgeous guys to drool over for four hours, of course! (Added note: I've been "corrected" by a friend who was one of the organizers... that it was more like 500... but I'm from Washington, DC; number inflation is part of my make-up... hee,hee...)
1. First Course
This part of the Saturday, October 14, activities began with OFFO introducing two of the cast from TNG. Now… those of you who have seen Robert Beltran in person before know that, while he’s not TALL tall, he’s far from being short. However, when he brought on Jonathan Frakes and Michael Dorn, they just about overshadowed him; these two gentlemen are really tall!
Jonathan Frakes, Robert Beltran and Michael Dorn
Even sweet Marina Sirtis wasn’t spared their jibes. Apparently, she used to bring her dog to the set some days – a little canine fluffball – and one day, the poor puppy got wet. Well, Our Two Heroes here offered to dry him off quickly… in the microwave! Sirtis just about killed them. They also poked fun at the fact that she always had all this hair to toss around, while they… well…
Frakes is quite busy now with his TV series, "Roswell", which he said "will be becoming more and more like the ‘X-Files’." He and Dorn joshed around about how they would like to do another show together… how about "I Spy – The Next Generation"? The audience went wild with this idea… not such an off-the-wall idea at that!
A question from the audience asked if they ever saw Whoopi Goldberg; how about a TNG week on "Hollywood Squares"? The audience liked this idea more than they did, however.
Oh, yes; these two like to sing together, too. This videoclip gives you a hint of how they tried their hand at the old standard, "Volare".
2. Second Course
The warm up team concluded their hour and a half, giving way to the Men of Voyager. (Well, at this point it was to be Garrett and the Three Roberts; Tim Russ and Ethan Phillips joined them later at the Ball itself.) Beltran (RB) came on stage alone, explaining that McNeill (RDM) was upstairs; Picardo (RP) was five minutes away; and that Wang (GT) had to catch a plane from Vegas [loud uproarious laughter], but would be there shortly.
RP showed up next, as RB was looking for enough mikes, stools and his ever-present water. He and RP "fixed up" a water glass for RDM by spitting into a cup… oh, yeah; this was shaping up to be a very mature affair! Small talk ensued, with RP revealing that RDM has 363 chest hairs… er, make that 360 now; he donated three to an auction that CARPE had.
RDM comes in, looking absolutely knockdown gorgeous, in a light blue sweater and khaki chinos. (Can you tell this was the first time I’d seen him in person?) However, when he started to talk, you wondered if he was going to make it through the talk session, much less the rest of the day – he had a real bummer of a cold! RB said that he’d promised to sing that night – at the first Ball, he was supposed to and got sick; last year, there was another "excuse" (ha,ha!) but this year… he wasn’t going to get off the hook. RDM promises that he will.
Wang came sauntering in about twenty minutes into the ST:V part of the program, to much good natured "dissing" by the audience and his comrades. Yep, he’s just a kid, but really, folks – he looked much too fresh for having spent the night in Vegas! ;-)
Questions now began "for real". Many were asked, and I’ve selected a few of my personal favorites to recount here.
Question to RDM: "Was that a huge mistake in this past week’s episode, ‘Imperfection’, with the scene of you in sickbay with a wedding ring on?"
Question to anyone: "My family was wondering how does Star Trek decide on the names they use. My name is Kathryn J______ -- spelled with the "ryn"; my brother’s name is Kirk and my mother’s maiden name is Paris."
Question to RP: "In ‘Virtuoso’, did you do all your own singing?"
Question to all: "Do you play tricks on each other on the set? Which ones are your favorites?"
RB: Johnny (Ethan Phillips) and Tim have this little game that they’re always playing with each other [indicates some hand gestures – sort of a stationary ‘tag, you’re it’ thing] They try to pull others into it; Roxann just hits them…
RP: In ‘Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy’, in the scene in which Tuvok goes into pon farr, Johnny jumped on top of Tim… doing a little bit of a ST version of ‘Deliverance’.
(General mumbling about ‘The Chute’ – "Take it like a man… it all worked out in the end." Oh, yeah; RB is known as "Mr. Discipline" on the set. RB, playing into it, "Oh, yes; I’ve been bad; very, very bad; discipline me!" GW – Oh, yeah; listen to him, the one who can’t learn his lines… general laughter from all of them.)
Question to GW: "What is the status of the two recent movies you’ve done?"
Question to all: "Let’s see you doing some [impersonations] of each other."
RB does the EMH ("I learned this from Garrett") – a prissy smirk
GW does EMH saying: "Just remember Kes; anyone can stargaze on the bridge, but the real action will always be in sickbay…"
RP does Chakotay/RB: "Captain, captain, we’re… oh, shit. What’s the next line?"
GW gets up and saunters across stage, doing a PERFECT KJ ala Queen Arachnia (much laughter and applause with this one)
GW does lines as Tuvok, Chakotay, Sulu and EMH. When asked about Seven or Torres, he says he’s really not too good with them. With his Seven attempts, Jeri Ryan has accused him of making her look like a drag queen. (Again, big laugh!)
RB does a hilarious Neelix… big laughs.
Question to RP: "How long have you been bald?"
Answer: A long time. Started when I was 25-26…
Question to all: "What has been your most absurd ‘Voyager’ line?"
RDM: My last line from ‘Future’s End’: "Tuvok, you’re a real freakasaurus!"
RP: "The line from [‘Warhead’], when Kim and I had to disarm a bomb. I had a line that was ‘All the more reason why we should talk with the bomb.’ Roxann really cracked up with this line. Also… from one of the Vidiian episodes, when Neelix loses his lungs: ‘His lungs have been removed.’ "
GW: "From [‘Eye of the Needle’] the Romulan one… there was this line ‘Captain, it’s like a snake through a tube…"
RB interjects: Hey, Garrett… how about "I don’t care if she’s a hologram? I love her!"
Question to RP: "Will the Doc ever get a name?"
Answer: "I doubt it; it would probably cost too much."
A couple asides here from the foursome:
General ribbing about the ST "sideburns" and how RP keeps them all year long. His comeback: he’s the only one out of the four of them that can grow them; besides, it’s the only hair he can grow! (general laughter)
Question to all: What are your plans for after ‘Voyager’ "?
RDM: None presently; hard to make plans until time is available. With the [actors] strike looming, can’t say. Is really looking forward to first summer vacation with his kids in seven years. (RP nods in strong agreement with this last statement.)
RP: Thought I’d work for Panda Express in Pasadena.
GW: I’ll be working with Bob. (Does routine of Chinese short order cook; hilarious!) Seriously… I’d like to travel some.
Question: It’s been said that the four of you do a pretty good imitation of ‘Riverdance’. How about doing it for us?
Question to all: What would be your favorite role to do outside of ‘Voyager’?
RB: A role from TOS; and Abe Lincoln
RP: I thought it might be interesting to do an MD in some series…
GW: An action role, with some comedy
Question to all: "Which episode do you think had the best special effects?"
RB: [Threshold] with the lizards…
(Aside from RP: "Whatever happened to baby Janeway?" Multiple groans here…)
GW: "Dragon’s Teeth"
RP: The assembly of the Borg Queen in ‘Unimatrix Zero’. Voyager did it better and cheaper than "Final Contact".
Question to all: Will Harry ever get promoted?
RP: We really should have an episode called "The Pip Suit". Harry goes around during the night and steals a pip from everyone and shows up the next day wearing all these pips. This could also be called "Pip Crazy… Pip Wild… Pip Mania…
Question to RB: Does Chakotay have any "episodes" in season 7?
RB: We’re shooting one right now; but of course, Seven and the Captain save the day…
Question: Seriously… if you had a romantic relationship with anyone on the show, who would it be?
(RDM and RB look at each other dreamily and sigh, batting eyelashes, etc. Much laughter…)
RB: Captain Janeway
(Much laughter here, since we’ve got two guys left and only one "main" female. RP is next…)
RP: Oh, it’s got to be Freya from the Beowulf one [Heroes and Demons] What a woman!
GW: I’ve always sort of thought that the Captain should say to Harry: "For all that you’ve put up with for seven seasons, I’m yours!" Actually, something with the Captain and Seven and B’Elanna… a little foursome…
The Q&A session ended with an auction of RP’s crew hat, from season 6, which all four guys promised to autograph. The winner, questioner Kathryn J from earlier, got it for a bid of $1700! She got called up onto the stage and received individual hugs, then a group hug and finally a free-for-all on the floor! Nothing that any other female in the room was envious of… of course not!
A second hat was donated on the spot and went to the second highest bidder, Steve, who settled for the group hug.
Then it was off to long autograph lines before it was time to get ready for...
THE MAIN EVENT: The Galaxy Ball
Throughout all the afternoon events, lots of goodies were on display for auction, from a pair of jeans autographed by Patrick Stewart to some stowaway items from "JAG", "Angel" and "South Park". Posters, drawings, books, CDs, calendars, dioramas… lot of fun stuff. The cut-off time was 7 PM; I had bid on a couple of items, but most of the bids were a little too rich for the DS bank account. However, it was great fun to "window shop"! Open bars aided in loosening up the pocketbooks, too.
Interesting side note here: all of the talk sessions, the auction and finally the dinner/dance were held in the MARQUIS room of the Marriott. A couple of friends and I were talking about getting the corkscrews we had used to open wine bottles the night before and get rid of that out-of-place "R" letter…
Dress code for the evening ran from California casual to glittering elegance – jeans and shirts to beaded formals. However, the spirit of the evening was one of "anything goes; we’re here to PARTY!"
Adrenaline was running at a fever pitch by the time the banquet room was opened and people poured into the awaiting area. Round tables covered with deep pink table cloths were sprinkled with shiny stars of various sizes and colors. Each table for ten was centered with a hurricane lamp candle on top of a round mirror, and inserts from Star Trek CDs added even more color. To one wall, was the orchestra/show platform, spotlighted and further highlighted by mirrored chandeliers. On the opposite wall, several half-circle glass cases contained costumes from Star Trek movies and episodes.
About a dozen or so tables were reserved for the evening's true guests of honor – individuals with Down syndrome. Their excitement was running even higher than that of us fanatics! (Several of them had already added to the festivities by asking questions earlier in the day.) These fine folk were joined by cast members and their families and other "dignitaries".
Galaxy Ball Dinner Table
As salads were being served, Robert Beltran introduced members of his family who attended, including his mother. He seemed honored and proud by their support and attendance.
The evening’s program was so packed with entertainment that it began as we were served the main course of chicken stuffed with wild rice and topped with fruit sauce. The entree was presented beautifully, surrounded by green beans, steamed julienne carrots and red cabbage. Forks and plates were stilled as Beltran introduced two of the "special" guests, Andrea Fay Friedman and Luke Zimmerman, who played the balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet". Their performances were excellent, with deliveries and presence better than many live performances I’ve seen. (To their credit, both of these young people have performed professionally already. This is just another fine example of how reaching beyond one’s grasp allows a person to grow.) A standing ovation followed this moving performance.
Entertainment for the rest of the "dinner hour" was provided by the terrific upbeat tempo of Neil Norman and the Cosmic Orchestra, with lead guitar and vocals being provided by the ole Vulcan himself, Tim Russ. Can this man ever rock! (Want to check out his CD? Go here!) And for a very brief video with sound, take a look here:
The servers managed to squeeze in a dessert of rounds of cheesecake with chocolate crust and raspberry sauce, coffee and tea as the rest of the Voyager cast present began their parts of the entertainment. First up was the rhinovirus-ravaged Robbie McNeill, who nontheless performed with great talent and charisma. (Did I tell you that I have madly fallen in love with RDM? More later…)
Voyager’s helmsman tackles a new career
His songs, performed in a luscious tenor voice, included "Fly Like an Eagle"; "That’s the Way I Like It (uh, huh…)" and one of my personal favorites, "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me". If you can stand looking at this sideways, here’s a short video of the last song (I turned my camera to get more in, but then couldn’t figure out how to rotate the video; ah, me!):
Minus her Klingon look, Roxann Dawson, next up, looked and sounded like an angel. Dressed in a simple deep emerald green dress, she sang a delightful, lullaby like song called (I’d Like to Be) A Lion Tamer. Then, her crystal clear soprano voice lit into a rollicking parody of the same song, only this time called "I’d Like to Be B’Elanna Torres". Call it a Klingon love song for Tom Paris…
Roxann Dawson playing a non-Klingon warbler
Ethan Phillips took the audience cross-country to what seemed to be an old resort in the Catskill Mountains, as he led everyone into laughter with a stand-up comic routine. Unfortunately, the his microphone didn’t reach me well where I was sitting, so I had to enjoy his act vicariously through the laughter of others.
Ethan Phillips wondering if he should keep his day job…
Robert Picardo was next up. True to the EMH’s style, nothing, absolutely nothing is sacred with this man! He started off with a parody of the old Tennessee Ernie Ford song, "Sixteen Tons"… only this time, it was "Sixteen Hours on the Voyager Set"… what do you get? "Another day older and deeper in debt. St. Peter, don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go… I owe my soul to the Voyager show!"
After the laughter subsided, he lit into another parody of another song, wondering if, after Voyager is over, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"
Just when we thought we couldn’t laugh any more, life size cutouts of the Captain, B’Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine were placed on the stage, surrounding him. His finale was an homage to the women of Voyager, as he sang to them wickedly fractured words of "What’s New, Pussycat?" He praised each woman in turn for her finest attributes – Torres for her "militant ways"; the Captain for her "pussy cat pips", and Seven for her… implants and nodes!
From the musical lows of Picardo, we were raised into heaven again with Robert Beltran’s treating us to three smooth, enchanting ballads. A little bit of his first song, "Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying", can be heard in a twisted-to-the-right short video here:
He continued with a mesmerizing rendition of Elton John’s "This Song’s for You", and concluded with "One Night with You". Oh, yeah; we were all mush by now!
The entire cast group (including Garrett Wang, who’s talent was yet to come) gathered for a finale song, "Love the One You’re With". All during this song, Roxann Dawson held and hugged a "special" baby named Nevin, a young man of a few months of age who was there with his parents. Her expression was absolutely beatific; I thought I was looking at an angel. She continued to hold him for quite a while longer.
So… you ask, where was Wang through all of this; had he flown back to Las Vegas? No, he stuck around… and became the auctioneer for several big items. This man is GOOD at being a caller, let me tell you! He was SO good that a tour of the Voyager set for a group of four people "sold" at $9000! A second item, a blanket with Voyager across it, went for $450. Finally, the six men offered the "shirts off our backs", a special edition for Galaxy Ball 2000. Bidding went as high as $2600 for these, and the six top bidders got their pick, starting from the winning bid down. The high bidder went for Robbie’s shirt, cold germs and all! Poor Ethan grumbled from the beginning that his would probably be the last to go… just like getting picked for a baseball team in phys ed. Yep, his was #6. But all of them were appreciated by the "winners".
The cast began mingling with guests, as Robert Beltran introduced his brother, Louie Cruz Beltran, who, with his orchestra, really revved up the evening with their hot and salsa music. The dance floor quickly filled, including Bob Picardo dancing with his daughters and then with a couple of the guests of honor. The evening continued at a fevered pitch until about midnight, and then everyone collapsed.
I somehow or another made it onto a Sunday morning flight back to home on the east coast, vowing that I was ‘WAY too old for this kind of stuff… but not regretting one single second of it.
What a bash… and thanks to all who made it possible.
This article and all included pictures and videos are © Delta Story, October 2000. No content, written or visual, may be copied without written permission of the author.