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NOCC: Sirtis Overshadows Burton and Spiner

Company: Wizard World
Product: New Orleans Comic Con 2013 Coverage

One of the last Q&A sessions of Wizard World New Orleans this year was also the last one in the show to celebrate Star Trek: The Next Generation's 25th anniversary. This particular panel featured LeVar Burton (Geordi), Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) and Brent Spiner (Data).

The first questioner asked if the speakers could share a humorous moment with Patrick Stewart. The trio's immediate response was shock at such a question, but after recovering, they explained that Stewart was a very serious worker when the show started, but after about 6 months, he was able to loosen up. Spiner explained that they had really become a close group and are all still very good friends.

It became obvious early in the session that Sirtis' strong personality meant she was going to take on many of the questions and would be interacting with the questioners more than the other two, much to those questioners' chagrin. In one example, the fan said that she regretted not naming her cat Spot after Data's cat, to which she revealed the cat's actual name is Mokuba and when she explained that it was a name from the anime Yu-Gi-Oh!, Sirtis insinuated that anime was a silly subject to bring up at this panel; to which Burton claimed, though not in a serious manner, that he likes anime. Sirtis believes that this was just a ploy to get more Twitter followers for Burton, however.

Somehow, this caused Spiner to sing the Reading Rainbow theme song and when Sirtis said she didn't know the lyrics, Burton taught them to her and the whole room sang the song in unison. Spiner followed this up by singing the Next Generation theme song with the cast names as the lyrics. Needless to say, the speakers had no problem getting off topic and going off on some unusual tangents.

When the questioner with the cat finally got to ask her question, it was which episode was the most memorable to film. Sirtis said that her favorite was "A Fistful of Datas" where Worf, Troi and Alexander enter the Holodeck to play out a Wild West story, but an experiment involving Data goes wrong and the western story goes a little sideways. Sirtis says that there are a few reasons she likes this episode. One is that they had to go to a different studio to film the episode, so it was like a field trip, and another was because she kept trying to blow smoke rings in a funny manner when Michael Dorn (Worf) turns to her with a deadpan face and a serious look to say "Don't be funny, this is my episode."

The next question had a person asking to borrow money from Burton to help start up a new studio. While Burton declined the loan, he did talk about a project he has helped Spiner fund called Fresh Hell is a web series that Spiner is doing where he plays himself who has been shunned by Hollywood because of some "incident" and he tries to get back into the acting world.

Another question asked if Spiner drew from Leonard Nimoy's portrayal of Spock for his role as Data. Apparently, this is a bad question since Sirtis explained that this question was asked just before the show aired. It seems everyone was equating Data to Spock, and that seems to have rubbed some of the Next Generation crew the wrong way. Here is some simple advice: if you find yourself in front of these speakers, do not ask that question.

Another questioner asked Burton to talk about the Reading Rainbow app that was released earlier this year. Burton explained that the app has been a huge success that allows kids to read a wide variety of eBooks. Burton said that over 700,000 books have been read by kids through the app since mid-June. He explained that this is about 30,000 books a day being checked out, something that no other library could even hope to handle. The questioner is a middle school teacher and he said this was the first year that his students asked if they can read their books on Kindles or iPads or Nooks, to which Burton believes that it should be acceptable, because as long as the kids are reading, it doesn't matter what the medium is.

As the Q&A session started wrapping up, the actors were asked which Star Trek movie was their favorite, and which was their least favorite. All three seemed to agree that First Contact was their favorite, but had a plethora of reasons why Insurrection is at the bottom of their list. They not only disliked the plot, but they said there was a lot of walking up hills and through fields.

The last question asked Sirtis where she was from because she had an odd accent. She said that she was from London and has been living in the States for about 26 years now, but Stewart picks on her frequently because her accent has changed over the years. She said that she also had to invent a new accent for the show because there was already a British person in the show, despite the fact that the character is French.

While this was a fun panel to be a part of, it is clear that this particular trio has one very dominating personality. That, coupled with the strange tangents the speakers went on, meant that not all of the questions that could have been answered were, but hopefully those left at the end of the line still enjoyed the experience.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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