- MICHAEL SULLIVAN
- Fired up and miked up here, I will introduce the cast and producers of our
flagship show, "Star Trek:Voyager," proceeding from my left across, Executive
Producer Rick Berman, Robert Beltran, [laughter] Co-Executive Producer Robert
Beltran, no. Jennifer Lien, Ethan Phillips, Kate Mulgrew, Robert Picardo,
Roxann Biggs-Dawson, Tim Russ and Executive Producer-Writers Jeri Taylor and
And now let's take a little clip look at year two for "Voyager."
[CLIP:"STAR TREK: VOYAGER"]
- We'll throw it open now to your questions.
- What has been the impact on you, have you attended any conventions, and
what has been the reaction of people running into you, let's say at the
supermarket in your everyday life?
- KATE MULGREW
- It has happily been rather slow, for lack of a better word. I think, and I
hope that Janeway is -- I have developed and helped make Janeway a very
different character from who I am in my own life. So, I enjoy an anonymity and
the same sort of comfortable life I've always lived.
The conventions were very interesting to me. I mean you're carried on this
cloud of such love and support, it's quite extraordinary. I've enjoyed it
- And to follow up, the fan mail that comes in, is it mostly from young girls
or do young boys identify with your very dynamic character?
- There's a pretty broad cross-section. I would say women of my age. We will
not mention that in this room [laughter] but I would say very young women.
[laughter] A lot of women, a lot of boys 14-18. I get some young girls, but
it's usually I think the mother who's been inspired to write in, which delights
- Is the doctor finally going to get a name this year?
- ROBERT PICARDO
- I have been asked this question so many times that I have written an open
letter to Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor, which I now read at
conventions as a way of fending off the question in the future.
I hope I get a name this season, I don't know in point of
fact if and when I will, but I've suggested to our producers
that because it was so popular when they shrank me down to
the size of a fire hydrant last season, that they do that
again in an upcoming episode and I chose the name Dr. Ruth.
- Let me ask, just for anyone, the last time we saw you, you had just started
filming and none of you had much of an idea what this would take just as far as
hours and quirks and so forth and makeup and all the many details. So I was
just wondering, now that you've been into it for awhile, what surprised you,
been different, harder, easier than you thought.
And if that's too broad, let me just ask it to Ethan and then
just anybody else jump in who's also got a thought on it.
- ETHAN PHILLIPS
- What has surprised me? Uh, uh, uh, oh, ah, you know I'm just surprised by
the whole thing, is surprising to me on a minute-by-minute basis. I think that
what surprises me the most is how surprised I am [laughter] by it. [stutters]
- What are you doing?
- Personally, I feel that I'm uh uh, let me know, let me be articulate here,
let me state that the hours surprised me. They are long, I think it probably
has the longest hours of any show on television. The conventions have surprised
me, by the adulation and support that Kate talked about and I see the people in
these convention rooms, and I think I have never seen so many less cynical
people gathered in one room in my life.
You know this whole thing about "get a life" to these Trekkers that people say.
I go, they have a life and they get together and it's a stimulating, warm
environment. They form clubs that help charities in terms of time and money.
They're intelligent, wonderful, hopeful people and so I say, yeah, they have a
life, you know. It's an alternative reality, but everybody has an alternative
reality. Particularly me. [laughter] I'm just surprised.
- A question for a couple of you, if you don't mind, and also particularly
for Kate Mulgrew. When we saw you in January, you folks were all sort of
getting used to the idea of becoming "Star Trek" characters, cultural icons in
a way. It's been, what seven, eight months now and I'm wondering how much
you're digesting that and sort of how it's affecting your psyche. I mean, do
you walk into a dark room and then wonder why the lights didn't automatically
go on, that sort of thing. [laughter]
- Yes, that happens often. It's only affected me in an extremely positive
way, because I love Janeway so much. I can't wait to get to work, so for me
it's a laboratory of excellent proportions and my life, as I said before, is my
life, so I've considered certainly since I got this job that I have absolutely
the best of both worlds.
- And for some of you folks, how is this sort of emerging icon status
affected you other than Mr. Phillips' obvious--
- Surprise. [laughter]
- Endless surprise.
- TIM RUSS
- Endless surprise, articulate surprise. I've noticed --what I noticed right
off the bat were there were a lot of friends of mine and friends of friends who
"came out of the closet" quote/unquote in fandom that were just major fans of
the show, and I had no idea that they watched the show at all.
And I kept getting responses from my family members, the same thing, they would
say that half the people in my office are major fans of the show. That was the
most striking thing to me, that I noticed that there are a lot of people out
there that watch the show and you do get a sense of -- when you say, I'm on
"Star Trek," anything "Star Trek" related, that people immediately tune in.
They know -- even if they've never seen the show before, they know this show,
they know what it's about. And that is really incredible. It's an incredible
- ROXANN BIGGS-DAWSON
- I think the biggest difference in my life has been with my family. When I
first brought a picture home to my parents and showed them a Polaroid of a test
make-up of B'Elanna as we were developing, going through the many stages in
terms of finding her. And I sat down a dinner and showed the Polaroid to my
father and he just started laughing hysterically and said, who got you this
And now I go home and he shows about 10 pictures in front of me to sign before
I even say hello. [laughter] So it's really changed, my relationship with him.
- For the producers, Ms. Salhany said this morning that although a ratings
drop was expected, the ratings fell much further and faster than UPN had hoped.
And outside of the "Star Trek" conventions, the reaction to the show has not
been unanimously positive. Is there anything you're planning to do this year to
stop that trend?
- That's the first I've heard of that.
- MICHAEL PILLER
- Well, I would say that we're continuing to do what we've always done, which
is to create the strongest possible creative vision for the show and doing
quality television week after week and hoping that our audience will find us.
We're very happy with the creative quality of the show. I think that there are
a lot of reasons for the ratings drop-off, one of which I think has to look at
the rerun scheduling.
We've gotten a lot of letters telling us that they're very unhappy with the
number of reruns that they're seeing.
- JERI TAYLOR
- The research has given us the most positive response possible. People love
these characters, they love the stories, they want more of the same, they want
to find out what's going to happen to these people in the second season. So our
goal, as always, has been to tell the most wondrous, magical stories we can,
and that's what we'll keep doing.
- RICK BERMAN
- I think to some degree the numbers fell due to the series going rather
quickly into reruns, which had a lot to do with the way the show was kicked off
and how it was going to evolve into its second season in terms of scheduling.
But I think that that played a large factor in all this.
- One of the challenges of your franchise is that, you know, they're so many
light years away that it's hard to have other characters come visit or join
them, like I suppose Michael Dorn couldn't just pop into this show like he can
into "Deep Space Nine."
I'm wondering if you're thinking a couple of years down the line, if it would
be interesting to see the process where these people were reintegrated after
this experience into Federation life, by finding their way back to wherever it
is that it all came from.
- You're giving away the opening episode of our llth season. [laughter]
- We don't think two years down the line, actually. We let the story unfold
and tell itself. We knew that one of the risks that we took when we developed
this show was in cutting off the audience from everything that was familiar.
But we felt that that was a good thing to do. It challenged us creatively.
The Alpha Quadrant was getting to be a little bit like "Mr. Roger's
Neighborhood." It was very cosy, very comfortable, you knew everybody. That
sense of the unknown, of the wonder, the excitement, was not necessarily there.
So we feel the franchise is working, it is our responsibility to populate the
Delta Quadrant with fascinating new aliens which will be just as interesting to
the audience eventually as the Klingons are to them now.
- And that's a commitment we've made for this season, to really open up and
meet the aliens and the canvas of this quadrant. We met the Kazon last year and
we have been formulating quite a deep investigation of their culture that will
turn them, I think, into perhaps one of the top five adversarial alien races in
"Star Trek" history.
- I think it's also important to note that when you're doing "Star Trek,"
anything can happen, really. So we have wormholes and we have alternate
realities and parallel universes. And Robby McNeill and Garrett Wang, the
reason they're not here right now is because they're on stage doing an episode
that does deal in a rather unique way with what's going on back on Earth.
- Another question. At the risk of sounding a bit like a Trek conventioneer,
there is one character from Episode 19 --no, [laughter] one character from the
old "Star Trek," or from "Next Generation" who could actually come out to the
Delta Quadrant, and that's Q. Have you thought at all about introducing Q at
- We've given it a great deal of thought and tried to figure out if that is
appropriate or not. There are serious questions as to whether it is, even
though he is acknowledged as a very popular character, first of all you ask the
question, why would Q appear on "Voyager," does he only go to star ships that
have their own series? [laughter]
And beyond that, what more could we do with Q? It would not be enough
creatively to have him repeat the same kind of relationship with Captain
Janeway and the crew of Voyager as he did with Piccard in the Enterprise. If he
just drops in to bedevil humans, I think that's an arc we've played out. So,
if we come up with a wonderful story or a wonderful reason to bring Q in, if
there's a good creative reason, if we can develop a relationship that would
seem appropriate, and not just falling back on the same kind of thing just
because he's there, then of course we'll do it.
- For any of the producers, if you could whet our appetites a little bit of
the upcoming stories in the new season. Also, what decisions had to be made to
bring Michael Dorn back into the "Star Trek" fold? And I had heard from Sharon
Lawrence, there's a great upcoming episode where she gets to meet Kate. Could
you tell us a little bit about that?
- Well, to start backwards, the episode that will be leading off our second
season is a show called "The Thirty-Sevens," and Sharon plays Amelia Earhart in
it, and it's a wonderful story and we're looking forward to the response.
- In terms of upcoming stories, one of the things that we want to do this
season is to parcel out our big action-adventure shows over the course of the
season. Last year we kind of front-loaded and then evolved into a series of
smaller interior shows.
We'd like to keep the franchise of the show, which is we're out there in the
unknown, we don't know what's coming around the next star or the next nebula.
They will be monsters out there, what are we going to run into, and to space
some of those bigger action, shoot 'em-up kinds of adventures throughout the
We feel that we left the characters of some of the people undeveloped toward
the latter part of the season, one of those being Chakotay, and for that reason
a very early episode this season will be one which features Chakotay in a
wonderful, really rip-roaring yarn that's full of action and adventure and
Tom Paris is another one that we wanted to do something with early on, and
we're going to start shooting next week on a wonderful kind of two-person
charming story between Tom Paris and Neelix. And beyond that, we've got lots of
things that will keep people interested.
- And about Michael Dorn?
- Well, Michael Dorn's on another show. He won't even--
- I didn't think we were here to talk about "Deep Space Nine," so, I don't
know if that's really appropriate.
- I will say Dwight Schultz, as Barclay, will be making an appearance on an
episode in which the Doctor wakes up and finds the ship is empty and he's got
to figure out exactly why, how and what to do about it. And it takes a number
of interesting quizzical turns.
- We have an episode in which Kes goes into heat, basically. [laughter] I
know you'll all want to be tuned to that.
- She's not kidding.
- That was a closed set that day.
- For the producers, some people have felt that many of the storylines are
very close to ones from the original "Star Trek" series? Was that intentional
on your part and will that continue?
- Yes, we try to steal stories, that's our basic objective. [laughter]
- Most of us are not that familiar with the original series. So I think you
all know that there are so many stories in the universe and what's important is
the way they're told. And while we did want to return to the original series in
the sense of that being out in the unknown, that sense of adventure that you're
going out there where no one has gone before, that's the reason we put them in
the Delta Quadrant, to get away from the familiarity.
That was a conscious attempt to rekindle that sense of adventure. But in terms
of storylines, of course not, we try to tell fresh stories as uniquely as we
- There have been over 350 hours in "Star Trek" produced, and I would
challenge anybody to come up with a story that would not relate in some way to
one of those 350 stories.
There's always going to be comparisons and similarities between stories about a
group of people on a space ship that lasts approximately 45 minutes. So we try
-- we try very hard.
We've had stories that have been pitched and discussed, that we all like, and
someone will -- and some of them come out of our own heads, and then we
realize, my God, somebody comes in and says, "That's Episode 24 of the original
series, called 'The Blossoms of Katiria 3,'" or something like that, and none
of us ever saw it. [laughter]
But the potential of similarity is always there when you have so many
- But, I mean, it's a litmus test that we put through every idea in the room:
what does this touch that we've done before? How do we make it different if
it's in a, you know, certain genre -- time travel, or whatever it is? How do we
get away from what we've done before and do something fresh and new?
We always ask the question.
- How many episodes did you make last season? And how many will you make this
And you talked about reruns a little bit. Can you tell me maybe what the rerun
pattern might be like, if you know?
- That's really a question, I think to ask to the UPN people, as opposed to
us. What were you going to say, Jeri?
- Well, we made 20 hours, including the two-hour pilot. Four of those hours
have not yet been seen.
I believe we are contracted to do 22, with the possibility of extending to 26
this next year.
- And as far as the rerun pattern, we premiere the last week in August with
the first original episode, and we're pretty much in originals, I think -- with
one preemption and maybe one rerun in October -- through the end of the
November Sweeps period.
You know, also, as far as addressing what was said earlier, as far as UPN's
surprise at the fall-off in rerun numbers this summer, I think that's
everyone's surprise in the industry. This is an industry-wide phenomenon we're
seeing, where reruns are off by three or four sharepoints.
And that's not unique to "Star Trek: Voyager." We're thrilled with "Star Trek:
Voyager's" performance in the original episodes that we've seen so far.
- Let me ask Robert or Roxanne -- originally, the idea of this show -- one of
the ideas was there was going to be more dissension and more battle because
these rebels were going to be on the Enterprise ship, and there was going to be
a lot of people mad at each other--
- --and more drama. Yeah, Voyager, yeah, I'm sorry. And now it seems like
your characters so far have had to be pretty moderate. You haven't shown that
angry side very often.
Do both of you wish you'd be showing more edge? Do you expect your characters
will be edgier next year?
- I'm still trying to wrack my brains thinking of how my life has changed.
[laughter] I know that I can buy coach on any airline, and get upgraded to
first-class -- nice perk. [laughter]
But edgier -- you know, I don't know what you can do to -- I mean, you can only
have so many arguments in an episode, you know, with the Maquis and the
I did get to punch out one guy. I don't know if that episode's been shown. I'd
like to see -- do some more of that kind of stuff -- [laughter] -- punching
And if they can find an alien girl for me to meet once in awhile, it would be
- Is there anyone in the cast you'd really like to punch out? [laughter]
- Here, now?
- No. The guys who get punched out are usually--
- Two -- Robert, I think I've punched out more people than you have.
- That's true.
- I'm just up by one, I think, but we're sort of keeping tabs--
- I think they've done a very good job--
- --seeing who we've punched out--
- --of maintaining the tension level between myself and Chakotay because of
what occurred in the pilot, being an undercover agent on his ship.
I think that many of the scenes that we've played have always had an
undercurrent of tension.
- There's been at least four or five scenes.
- Obviously these people are going to come closer together after 20 episodes
of being on the same ship. But I think we have no intention of making that
- Speaking of punch-outs -- oh, I'm sorry, did you want to--
- I was going to say that the holographic doctor will continue to have thinly
disguised contempt for everyone on the ship. [laughter]
- Speaking of punch-outs and all that, I was wondering if you guys could
maybe talk about some of the more exciting -- some of the things that you've
gotten to do that you've really enjoyed.
I mean, this show gives opportunities for, you know, action-adventure, all that
stuff, that other shows don't give. And, you know, getting to throw yourselves
across the bridge, or just something that you've really enjoyed doing, or maybe
not enjoyed doing, I don't know.
- I think Ethan wanted to talk about his make-up. [laughter]
- I get the girl for the first time in my whole career. [laughter]
- Myself, I've had an opportunity to do more stunts of my own, without having
to have someone do them for me, which is always nice. It's a nice thing to do
because I think it helps the way the scene plays out. So, that's been something
that's been a lot of fun.
- And never forget that the language in and of itself is an extraordinary
challenge [laughter] still for me every day. That's the essence of the--
- Plus -- yeah -- with a lot of stunts, the suits get wrinkled, and that's
not good. [laughter]
- This is for Robert Picardo -- will you be getting on to an M Class planet,
or off the ship this year, be transferred instead of just to the holodeck?
- This is another one of those questions when I have no idea what the answer
is -- [laughter] -- but I must give you a charming, witty and brief response.
I think that that's something we can look forward to -- [laughter] -- in the
holographic doctor's future, however I'd like to point out that some of the
most interesting things about the character are his limitations. And if we
solve them all too quickly, [laughter] well, then I'll have nothing left to do.
So I think I'm going to get to an M Class planet sooner or later. I'll probably
get into a Hard Rock Cafe sooner or later. [laughter] I don't know what the
time-frame is. These gentlemen on the end keep -- and ladies at the end -- keep
that a carefully guarded secret.
- With most of the "Star Trek" series, there seems to be relationships among
the large ensembles that get discovered as the series goes along -- the
Quark-Odo relationship, the O'Brien-Bashir relationship.
I'm wondering if, for the actors or the writers, are there relationships
between the characters that you've discovered that have yielded hidden
treasures that you didn't anticipate as you were creating the series
- I think that's still unfolding. When I said we don't think ahead, that's
for a reason. If you set a goal and try to reach it, then all you can do is get
to your preconceived notion.
So we never say, you know, I think it'll be cool if we had a relationship
between B'Elanna and Tuvok. If you try to force something like that, then it
just doesn't work as well as if you let the stories unfold and sometimes you
get on to something -- one scene can then become an arc between two people
which will play out for a season or even more.
- I think the Kes-Doctor relationship is an example. When we started, we
sort of looked at each other and said, what are we going to do with these
characters, and you know, where are the stories going to come from?
And yet, I think that the relationship between those two, and the growth of
both of them into the medical situation and supporting one another in a
personal way, has really reaped terrific rewards. And it seems very popular
from the feedback we're getting.
- Last question.
- I don't think any of the -- are there any "Star Trek: Voyager" action
figures out yet -- the toys?
- I think they're coming because a box arrived at my house a month ago, and I
am not kidding, it was this [demonstrates] big. And it took me four hours to
find a head this big inside -- [laughter] -- wrapped up in the bubble thing.
So I think they're coming... headless creatures.
- I was wondering what the sensation is, for anybody here, whether you have
any say in how your action figure looks.
There's always a major line of toys to do with any of the "Star Trek" things.
Some look more like you than others, but do they consult you at all, or do they
just look at a picture and it's as big a surprise to you as anyone else when
you get the toy, or see what it looks like?
- Well, photographs where we had our back to the -- they took pictures of all
of our butts individually. [laughter] So--
- That was an interesting day.
- I can assure you, William Shatner has some percentage of it, whatever it
- Real quick -- one more.
- A real quick one -- when any group of people get together, certain
personalities emerge in your ensemble. Who is the class clown, who's the
intellectual -- [laughter]?
Kate, would you field that question? Whols the class clown in your group?
- Who is the class clown? Why don't we all take a big -- [laughter] -- my two
compatriots here do a splendid job.
Who is the intellectual on this--
- Oh, no! [he laughs] [laughter] I think you need to spend a few minutes with
us on the bridge any given day of the week [laughter], and you will see quite a
bit of clowning, from the turbolift to the helm, I think it covers quite a
- Why are you looking at me?!
- Who me? And even our illustrious captain. [laughter] You'd be quite
surprised by what goes on in there.
- Yeah. The chemistry is terrific.
- It's great.
- Thank you all very much. [applause]