Jonathan Frakes at Fan Expo Regina on April 25. (Photo by Don Healy)
I don’t think anyone would try to argue that Jonathan Frakes wasn’t the highlight of Fan Expo Regina 2015.
Frakes, who played Commander William T. Riker in Star Trek: The Next
Generation, was a big get for a convention only in its second year. To
have a main figurehead from the Star Trek franchise so soon is a good
sign that Fan Expo Regina is headed in the right direction.
And to make it even better, Frakes seemed to enjoy the event as much
as the fans. While making his way throughout the packed room on Sunday
to interact and joke with audience members, Frakes captivated the crowd
like no other celebrity I’ve seen at a convention before. It’s clear
Frakes is experienced at it, and definitely loves doing it.
When asked about the possibility of a new Star Trek TV series, Frakes
said he himself had pitched a concept to CBS, which owns the rights to
the franchise. Unfortunately, CBS doesn’t seem to have any interest in a
new Star Trek show, even if it’s being pitched by Commander Riker.
Frakes said CBS feels it diluted the Star Trek brand during the 90s
and early 2000s, culminating with Star Trek: Nemesis, which was the
first Star Trek film that didn’t make a profit. Now that the franchise
has finally found success again with the rebooted films, he said CBS
wants to keep the property as focused and concentrated as possible.
There were a few behind-the-scenes tidbits discussed too, such as how
Riker came to have his beloved beard in season two of TNG. It turned
out Frakes had grown it out during a writers strike. After Gene
Roddenbery (Star Trek’s creator) saw the beard, he was adamant it become
part of the character. Frakes even recalled a note sent down form a CBS
executive asking that Riker have seven per cent less beard on one side
of his face.
One fan was even bold enough to ask Frakes why, aside from financial
reasons, he agreed to host the Fox prime time special Alien Autopsy in
“I think you just answered your own question,” was Frakes’ answer.
Another panel that was a treat for Reginans was Lawrence Gilliard,
who played Bob Stookey on The Walking Dead and D’Angelo Barksdale on The
Wire. Although only a few audience members raised their hands when the
moderator asked how many fans of The Wire were present (shame on you,
Regina), most of the questions were surprisingly about Barksdale.
Gilliard said he and his co-stars had no idea The Wire would be such a
hit, and that he had the misfortune of purchasing a car just before
being told his character would be written out of the show in season two.
But he clearly looks back on the experience fondly.
Gilliard also revealed it was his first time doing a Q&A panel at a convention, and that he usually turned them down.
Fan Expo Regina is obviously limited when it comes to the type of
celebrities it can draw because of the city’s size, but it’s definitely
on the right path. And I can’t neglect to mention the fans themselves,
who showed up with some amazing pieces of cosplay once again.