November 18, 2001
Many Thanks to Brian for his wonderful report!
Please do not repost.
And finally, there was Kate Mulgrew. This is the second time I've seen Kate at a convention, and I also saw her speak at the Disney-MGM Studios once. She never fails to impress me. No faded jeans, no dropping the F-bomb, no wavering and trying to think up an answer on the fly. She walked in dressed to the nines, and took immediate command of the crowd. She was scheduled to talk for an hour, and went for nearly an hour and fifteen minutes. She talked for at least 30-35 minutes before taking questions. There were no uncomfortable pauses. She knew what she wanted to say and she said it.
She began by recalling her last visit to an Orlando con, about five years ago. She brought her adolescent boys with her then and made an eight day vacation out of it, and is still recovering. She said she was struck by the difference when she debarked at Orlando International Airport this time. She said OIA was practically deserted, and had a very somber atmosphere. She challenged us to not let idiots like Osama bin Laden ruin our way of life. She told us to get on a plane, go see a movie, eat dinner out, dance in the streets, kiss a stranger, live our lives as we want to, otherwise the bad guys win. Later in the Q&A session, someone asked her opinion of space exploration. She feels that it is vital, and again referred to OBL, how he injected this fear into our country at a time when we were just starting to get it right, and has now affected our confidence, our economy, and as a side effect, our space program. She expressed her confidence that we will rebound.
She talked about being the first female lead in a Star Trek series, and what a great responsibility that was, and how much she loves Kathryn Janeway. She joked mockingly about how TPTB, when they hired her, realized that for the first time in eight years, "the captain has hair! What do we do now?!? And she's got... bosoms ... to go with it!" She said it took them a year or so to figure out that if they stop worrying about her "attributes" and just let her command the ship, the crew (and the viewers) will follow. She finally got to a point where she could safely vocalize her opinions to the writers & producers (about things like making love with holograms!). She claims that she had an integral part in laying out "Endgame", and if it seems rushed at the end, it's her fault. She felt that the resolution with the Borg Queen was crucial, and a much more fitting climax than exploring what happens once they get home. She still believes that was the right way to end the series. Of juggling career and family, she said it is very hard, especially in a business where you spend more hours at work than at home. Her teenage boys have some resentment for her career, and she hopes someday they will understand.
When asked why Jennifer Lien left the show, she said she really didn't know. She doesn't feel that Jennifer did anything to warrant being booted. She believes TPTB just wanted to bring in Seven of Nine and that meant that one of the other regulars had to go. Kate warned them that fracturing a family like that would be a bad thing, and they found out down the road that she was right (she didn't elaborate). But Seven brought in the numbers, so what can the actors do?
In sharing her personal observations of the rest of the cast (all positive stuff like Robbie McNeill is funny, Ethan is a tremendous actor, Bob Picardo is a warm and wonderful human being, etc.), Robert Beltran was conspicuously absent from her list. I filed that away for future thought. Later, someone asked how the inter-character relationships suffered after Seven came aboard, and Kate said she agreed, that the show's power was in its ensemble cast. When it all became about Seven and Janeway or Seven and the Doctor, the rest of the characters suffered. Then she mentioned that Robert Beltran in particular had problems with it, and stopped giving 100%. She expressed frustration when a long scene is ruined by someone flubbing a line as easy as, "Aye, Captain", forcing them to re-shoot it after having been on the set for 12 hours.
Kate said she hasn't had a chance to watch Enterprise, but said that Scott Bakula has a terrific reputation in Hollywood as a kind, generous, and caring man, as well as being a great actor, and that's all that matters to her.
Someone asked how it felt wearing Borg makeup in "Unimatrix Zero". She said it was fine, "I got into this business to dress like a Borg. If I wanted to dress like this every day, I'd have become a bank teller!"
When asked about STAR TREK: NEMESIS, Kate finally confirmed that she will be in it. She said she had an appearance in the UK with Patrick Stewart, and he came up to her singing, "I know something you don't know!" In her own words, she gets to "order him all over the place" in the film. She said she's jealous of Patrick, not because of his tremendous talent, but because of his bald head. "He hasn't got a clue!"
She introduced her husband, Ohio politician Tim Hagan. He spoke for about 5-10 minutes about how they met and fell in love, while Kate silently provided commentary behind him when he strayed from the truth. They seem to have a fantastic relationship. Kate says she's never been this happy.
Favorite episode? Too hard to name one, Kate says. Anything with her dear friend and crazy man John de Lancie, "Deadlock", "Counterpoint".
Future work? She's just starting work on her dream role, a stage show about the life of Kathryn Hepburn, written especially for Kate.
She closed by reiterating her opening remarks about living life to the fullest in the wake of our tragedy. She remarked about how Star Trek isn't about special effects or aliens of the week, it's about the human spirit.
One of the local Starfleet clubs wanted to present Kate with an award, which was presented by an elderly member, who was moved to tears in expressing how much she admired Kate and Captain Janeway. Kate gave the woman a big hug, then turned to the crowd and said, "That's exactly what I'm talking about, "the human spirit!"
Later, while Kate was signing autographs (at warp speed compared to Virginia Hey! – also a guest that weekend), her husband auctioned off a fully signed cast poster of the original cast of Voyager. When the poster went for $3,000, he exclaimed, "I gotta run for office down here!" The money goes to research for Alzheimer's disease, which is afflicting Kate's mother.