Monday, May 30, 2016

Thoughts on "Go Beyond" night—and all it conjured up

Doyle Zhang, modern Trek fan: From
Shanghai, China, fan since ST 09 but now
loves all Prime Trek, won trivia, knew Dr. Trek!
It's been a week since Paramount's Star Trek Beyond Fan Night at the lot. A lot of friends and their news sites covered it pretty thoroughly in word and pictures (see vid links below), and the second, "that's more like it" trailer has been pretty well dissected. (That Other Story from the night has blown up, hot and cold, too.) But here's a few of my personal thoughts...and some pics...

The bottom line is this: If Paramount needed to catapult a catch-up offense in this game of promotion and expectations and "buzz" with a hail-mary pass on a hurry-up offense ... this was a huge score. Both in terms of the event, and of course the movie—not just a trailer, but two full scenes of exclusive footage for the 500 or so fans on hand—and a pass for two to the outdoor-IMAX world premiere at Comic-Con San Diego on July 20, plus a studio street naming for Leonard Nimoy in which his family, the Beyond notables, and all fans on hand took part in a toast and mass photo. How do you top that for feel-good?

Zach Quinto leads castmates, JJ, Justin, Adam Savage,
Nimoy family, and 500 fans in a toast to Leonard—
and the unveiling of a namesake street (
right) in front of 
old Desilu Stages 9-10—today's Paramount 31-32

500 fans on Stage 31, to start—and a few of them were actually not streaming or live-tweeting for social media.

It was even crowd-managed well—mostly. I mean, we'd wondered what was gonna fill up four hours; some were even wondering aloud if we'd get a draft look at the whole film.

The last 100+ of this line (left) never got in
Holding the event on Stages 31 and 32—or, in old Desilu terms, Stages 9 and 10, storied home to TOS itself—was a master stroke. But there was a major downside, unbeknownst to those inside: Some 100+ ticketed fans who were in line on time were not allowed in over fire marshal capacity concerns—an overreach probably based on the fact that the normal amount of no-shows an event planner counts on does not apply to rabid Trekfans hungry for a local event in Hollywoodland. But plenty of them were pissed—and were promised at least their own world premiere pass for Comic-Con. We'll follow up and see.

Chris, Zach and Karl in Q&A with fans
This was also, I realized as Friday had drawn near, the first big feel-good Trek hoopla on the Paramount lot in a decade—that's a generation, in employee years. I heard there was a lot of excitement and buzz on the lot, where almost no one goes back to the 90s/Aughts era of constant licensing summits and affiliate station confabs in the cause of Star Trek promo and biz.

I have to admit I was a bit distracted: So many friends from the LA fan, media and fan media worlds were here—from  my "+1", longtime fan propmaker and The Con of Wrath associate producer/donor Rusty Harrell to the @Trekkie Girls from the UK (at left, with longtime Paramount secueity guard Steve D.). And then of course with my own ticket giveaway winners, there was a lot of hosting to do.

But I also was on the lookout for strangers—if any Trek fan can be called that. Over the past year, even with this third alt-verse movie's ups and downs getting off the launchpad, I've  had a gut feeling that film in new hands might actually find its Trek roots and vibe in a way that will have a broader old-fan appeal. I've also become very focused on getting out of my own bubble, my own Internet bubble, and meeting up with those fans who are solely more recent JJ-era fans, or those who embrace the alt-verse with no grumbling.

That's why I loved doing a piece for Star Trek Magazine on fan reactions: I was determined to talk with fans I didn't already know! And boy, did I: from China and Malaysia and all over the US, as it turns out, were three that night. In fact, one young lady won the stunt version of Jaylah's staff from STB as the only one in the room with her hand up (besides me, apparently) for my buddy Scott Mantz' (at left, apparently in the Andorian Sector) and his trivia on Edith Keeler's social work house—and it turns out Doyle Zhang (at very top)  had flown in from Shanghai for the event (and was a big Dr. Trek fan, to boot!?).... so again, an amazing night. Look for comments from her and five other fans I spoke with (that's me working, at far right!)  in the Titan Star Trek Beyond movie special issue coming in mere weeks!

So, I yeah—I did miss out on any real hobnobbing with Stars and Names. My head was into hosting and working, as I pointed out the next day in that actual snapshot.

The otherwise nondescript teleprompter on the back wall
But if the hard-cores had a highlight, though, it had to be the Interweb meltdown following impromptu but carefully worded "announcement" by producer JJ Abrams and especially director Justin Lin, coming from that bootstrap celebration of fan passion, that the CBS/Paramount Axanar lawsuit would soon "go away". Their careful wording left lots of wiggle room for interpretation as to final details, but it's obvious they are two guys who'd like the air to be as cleared as possible when their bright shiny movie opens. I made it a point to look over at that moment to see the back-wall teleprompter — and it sure looked  frozen to me, though others have sworn the lawsuit question was indeed scripted in the scroll.

In any case, a lot in the past week has already been thrown back into flux again on this one. We'll see—but that story nearly hijacked the sole focus that Paramount surely wanted this night to have on the Interwebs and TV channels still standing. I'd far rather focus on the new series... and now, even, this new movie.

Chris Pine mingles & poses with fans a bit
Because it all amounted to a pretty happy crowd by night's end, no matter the fandom roots or outlook, as far as I could tell. As my gut had hoped and a recent longform piece on Justin Lin reveals, the new flick's director is an old Trek fanboy from way back—and coupled with his fixer mentality and ability to work fast and furious under fire, the STB scenes we saw hit all the right notes and, in the end, just felt right.
How many news outlets reported on CBS star Stephen
Colbert's special message to the crowd, spoken as a Trek fan?

No, not a secret clue—just still handy in the studio sign shop

1000 of these special numbered TMP homage posters
were printed for the gift swag bag.

How many newbies didn't catch John & Bjo Trimble?

When I first saw ST09 and especially STID, my brain's inner thoughts first turned to "what will I say publicly?" so as to put an honest, upbeat public face on this new paradigm format I was still a bit queasy about—and knowing many fans would look to me for a reaction.

But no such worry here.
Maybe it's just serendipity that with Bryan Fuller's bunch of new CBS Trek episodes in the works and apparently Prime-set (no confirmed word yet, though), I could just mentally relax about this feature film—no pressure at being the sole rep of Gene's canon filmic universe any longer, no matter its fate.

Maybe so. But it's moot now: The trailer, the behind-the-scenes reels...and especially the 12-minute-plus piece we were privy to I'm sure you've read about elsewhere by now, keyed by a wonderfully right-on Urban/Pine-McCoy/Kirk moment of reflection... Well, I no longer had to wonder what I'd say about it publicly.

My gut instantly said, "Now this movie I want to see."

And I didn't seem to be alone.

Here's that trailer again ... 

...and a recap of the night from Paramount (sans any Axanar moments) ...

...and a full one-camer view of the Q&A, plus Scott's trivia:

New fan, bored fan, or just curious how much Trek you don't even know you don't know? Check out PORTAL 47—the monthly 8-point backstage pass based on my 20+ years of memories, archives and crew contacts from the front row of and online, right to your center seat no matter where it is!  Like a mini-con all year long—taking you where no savvy fan has gone before.

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