‘Star Trek’ fans to boldly go to Hynes
Even the most ardent fans of "Dallas," "MASH" or "Kojak" are probably not going to dress up as J.R. Ewing or Hawkeye Pierce or Kojak.
But ask fans of "Star Trek" to don a costume? Just name the location and time.
Gary Berman discovered that long ago. Back in 1971, he and Adam Malin — then just two teenage sci-fi fans in New York — formed Creation Entertainment. Since then, they have produced hundreds of conventions around the country catering to the most devoted of fan bases, including fans of "Star Trek."
"There's something about this genre, sci-fi, that will get people out of their chairs at home and to go out to a convention to meet other people into it, whereas some of these other shows won't,'' said Berman. "They're passionate about the stars of the show, they're passionate about the storylines, and that may very well be what gets them to come to the conventions."
This weekend (June 21-22), Creation is back in Boston, this time staging a "Star Trek'' convention at the Hynes Convention Center. The show will feature more than a dozen actors — representing all five "Star Trek" TV shows — including Walter Koenig (Chekov from the original series) and Avery Brooks ("Deep Space Nine.")
In the beginning, long before the Internet, conventions were one of the few places fans could meet and interact with the show's stars and other fans. The love of "Star Trek" bound them all together.
" 'Star Trek' is singular in that it was the first show that fans actually kept on the air,'' Berman said. "Nowadays that happens a little more often, but back then before the Internet — can you imagine? — there was no place for people who had the common interest to meet. That's what makes 'Star Trek' so special, even to this day."
Creation also runs shows based on other sci-fi and fantasy titles past and present, including "Xena," "Stargate," "Twilight," "Vampire Diaries," and "Supernatural." Although still in production, the casts of CW's "Vampire Diaries" and "Supernatural" travel en masse to conventions.
Over time, costs have gone up along with audience's expectations. No longer will a visit from Nichelle Nichols, a.k.a. Lieutenant Uhura, and viewing a blooper reel suffice. As a result, smaller cities, such as Albany, Rochester, and Providence, have been supplanted by Boston, Chicago, and Dallas as locations for conventions — bigger cities and more direct flights from filming hubs such as Vancouver and Los Angeles.
Malin will serve as host in Boston while Berman stays at his Southern California home base and prepares for the gigantic annual "Star Trek" convention in Las Vegas, the one with more than 100 celebrity guests that has already sold more than 5,000 hotel rooms at the Rio.
The roster of Boston guests includes Robert Picardo (holographic doctor, "Voyager"), Terry Farrell (Dax, "Deep Space Nine"), Robert Beltran (Chakotay, "Voyager"), and Tim Russ (Tuvok, "Voyager").
Tickets for the Boston show range from $20 to $210.
Berman says that with the success of comic book conventions, most notably Comic-Con in San Diego, attendance across all fan bases has risen. However, even though Creation has roots in comic book events and the broader available audience is tempting to chase, the company is going to stick to what it does well.
"We've been really lucky to be successful with conventions . . . purely about a particular subject matter,'' Berman said. "You are immersed in that subject matter with everyone in the audience who shares that same love that you do."