Saturday, January 18, 2003
The photo ops were scheduled to begin at 4:45, with Kate addressing the convention at 6:00. At 4:35 I went to line up outside the suite where it was all happening. I was seventh in line. Mulgrew had not arrived yet, but very soon she came sweeping around the corner. I can say that we felt her a few seconds before we saw her. This woman has energy, an "aura" if you will. It was palpable. I've only had that experience once before, when I met San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. I stood a full foot taller than him, but I felt six inches tall. That's what it was like with Kate.
We entered the room one at a time. My turn finally came, and Kate was sitting in front of me, looking sharp in a tan/brown pantsuit and scarf. I approached her, ready to ask my questions, gathering up nerve and trying to look non-plussed. That's when I ran into the force of nature that is Kate Mulgrew. Meeting Kate Mulgrew is like getting run over by a truck...in a good way.
Before I could say anything, she had fired off about six questions: "What's your name? Where are you from? What do you do? What's it like around here?" I blurted out a few syllables here and there, but I'm not sure whether or not they were intelligible. She looked me right in the eyes and never shifted. She is a formidible woman. I thanked her for her work on Voyager, and congratulated her on the success of Tea at Five. And like so many great moments in our lives, it was over before I knew what hit me. She shook my hand, thanked me for stopping by, and that was it.
So I stumbled back to the ballroom to wait for her arrival. By the time she came on, the place was packed, and folks were fired up. She came on stage and it was clear there was a STAR in the room. Again, I just can't convey the amount of energy that comes off this woman. It's truly remarkable. She dominated the stage.
She began by talking about how difficult it is even now to watch the musical montage of Voyager, because "I miss those people so much. I miss Janeway". She seemed truly moved. She spoke of how much she loved the character, and again she seemed very genuine.
She spoke of each cast member and this was very interesting. Every single person, she spoke of on a personal level: how Ethan Phillips was "her rock", how Garrett Wang had a "tough start" but how she grew to respect him and enjoy his company. She spoke at length about how "naughty" Robert Duncan McNeill was, especially during serious close ups, where, she said "He made it his mission to make me wet my pants. We'd be on take 16 and I'd still have tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks." She went on like this about Beltran, Picardo, Dawson, etc, until she got to Jeri Ryan. About Ryan she said: "She brought a lot of attention to the show." And that was it. It was very obvious (to me anyway) that she spoke about everyone else from her heart, and just sort of threw something perfunctory in about Ryan.
She told a story I had not heard before, regarding how she found out she got the part of Janeway. She said she came home and her two sons and her housekeeper were on the porch waiting for her. They told her she had to listen to her phone messages, which she thought was strange because "I never touch the answering machine. I don't understand the phone or technology". She did what they told her to, and the fourth message was from Rick Berman saying "Welcome Aboard, Captain".
She defended the non-romance between Janeway and Chakotay. She said she was not in favor of it, and she did not think the captain should be dating someone on her crew. She said she thought it would belittle the character. "She was to suffer alone, she stranded these people."
She also defended Endgame, but started by saying "I know a lot of you are disappointed, and you can blame me. I fought hard for that ending. What I was trying to convey to the viewer was the abruptness, the stunned feelings as all of a sudden they were home. I wanted you to feel what the characters felt. What happens when your dreams suddenly come true?" She also spoke of how the characters were not happy to get home, in a certain way, because of what they lost. "I realize now that a lot of you felt cheated and wanted a more grand finale."
She spoke of when she first read the script for her holographic boyfriend: "I went to Berman's office and said 'What the hell are you smoking? How desperate is this woman?' It was terrible, wasn't it?"
She discussed her rehearsals for Tea at Five, which is opening in New York in March (I think she said March...). She said she is always willing to play Janeway again, and discussed both movie possibilities and TV movies/miniseries.
She roamed the stage, almost stalked around it, gesticulating wildly. She called fans by their first names, brought people on stage with her, joked about being promoted ahead of everyone else. The woman is a ham, no doubt. She's a lot like Shatner, whom I've seen at Conventions...only sincere. Mulgrew held court, that's what it was like. She was fantastic.
We all lined up for our autographs, which she signed pleasantly. She smiled for everyone, making contact with each individual. And then it was over.
I was not disappointed in the least, in fact it was better than I had hoped. We had a great time.
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