Asking the Right Questions
Written By: Randy Hall
Published: Issue 11
The most prominent feature of both fan-run and professional conventions is the appearance of guests who usually also sign autographs after being onstage. While these guests can run the gamut from special-effects experts to scientists, the main people who draw fans to these cons are actors who play characters in Star Trek (or other science-fiction TV shows or movies).
One of the most anticipated part of a star's appearance is the chance for people in the audience to ask him or her questions. As you've probably figured out by now, this is a terrific opportunity to promote the campaign to Bring Back Kirk.
Let's examine this subject using the five "W's" I learned in journalism class: Who, What, When, Where and Why. Where is pretty obvious: at Star Treks conventions! And so is Why: to promote the BBK effort. The others deserve more extensive discussion.
Who: It's logical that Classic Trek stars draw guests who are fans of the original series and therefore are most receptive to BBK. And, logically, the best of all is Leonard Nimoy, who is not only famous as Captain Kirk's first officer, Spock, but also is a good friend of William Shatner. Both of them have expressed a desire to be back in Trek, and it's not hard to take a comment like "We'd love to see you back" to include his Vulcan character's best friend, James Kirk.
The Excelsior campaign to give Sulu a chance to shine as captain of his own ship provides some opportunities for BBK as well, though any actors who are trying to get work themselves are primarily concerned with his or her future in Trek. However, Kirk as a potential guest star in any TV series or film based in the Classic Trek era is a good way to bring "our" captain into the discussion.
But let's be honest. Shatner and some of the other actors didn't always get along splendidly, so it's probably not the best idea in the world to bring up less-than-thrilling memories. However, getting that old gang together for one last big adventure puts the focus on the future instead of the past and might get a more positive response.
As for actors from the other "generations," they're also understandably focused on their own careers, but there are ways around that. Before you attend a con with no Classic Trek guests, you might want to go out on the World Wide Web and find pages that discuss the careers of the stars you'll see. Was he or she a fan of Classic Trek? If so, you can ask how long he or she has liked Trek, and that might lead to a BBK question. Also, maybe the guest worked with Shatner in a movie or some other project. That could also lead to a question as to what he's like to work with and then ask what he or she would think about bringing Shatner back as Kirk. The possibilities are only limited by your resourcefulness.
One final thought: I wouldn't recommend asking people who have never been involved with Trek about BBK. Most of those folks may have some knowledge of Classic Trek, but they also may not know what you're talking about. Still, if you know they're big fans and might give you a positive response, go for it!
What: We've already covered some of this, so let's deal with what NOT to do. Don't ask the exact same question of every guest. At many of the cons I've attended in the Mid-Atlantic region, one guy has worked hard to be the first person to ask a question, and it has always been whether or not the guest believes that aliens have actually landed on Earth. After a while, it became a bit of a standing joke that he would be there with his "aliens among us" query. Try not to be too predictable.
Along this line, you might want to be sure that you ask other guests questions that have nothing to do with BBK. The reason for this is that you don't want to be perceived as a "one-question" fan. If people can tell what you're going to ask before you do it, they will very likely "tune you out" as soon as they hear your voice.
When: You might not think this is important, but just as you don't want to be thought of as someone with only one thing on your mind, you also don't want to be perceived as someone who only shows up at one time. If you're always first or last in the question line, try to vary that.
Of course, this in no way exhausts the topic of questions for convention guests. If you've had any great experiences along this line, send them to me at RandyHall@aol.com so the rest of us can benefit from your ingenuity.
Did anyone attend the Vulkon convention held this past weekend, May 26-28, in Tampa, Florida? One of the guests was Classic Trek's George Takei. If you were there, let your fellow BBKers know or send me e-mail at RandyHall@aol.com. More information on future conventions will be available in next week's newsletter.