By: Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on November 30, 2012 at 10:20 PM
The Wizard World Comic-Con is a three day festival dedicated to science fiction, fantasy and horror has begun at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. One of this year’s big draws is the assembly of six stars from the iconic “Star Trek: The Second Generation” television show – only Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard) was unavailable. For devoted fans the 25th anniversary appearance is like an intergalactic Beatles reunion. The stars may be a bit grayer than in their cosmic exploration days, but it’s an undeniable thrill to see their smiling faces in person, as they chat with enchanted fans at the celebrity autograph booths.
As I wandered through the rows of nostalgic collectibles sales kiosks, I asked superheroes, steam punks, anime characters and other costumed attendees (and willing celebrities) an ice-breaking question: Which of the Star Trek: TNG crew would you like to like to be stranded on a desert asteroid with? Admittedly, the grammar is awkward, but the results were a hoot.
By the end of my absurd survey, each of the former Enterprise officers: Commander William T. Riker played by Jonathan Frakes, Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge played by LeVar Burton, Lieutenant Worf played by Michael Dorn, Counselor Deanna Troi played by Marina Sirtis, Lt. Commander Data played by Brent Spiner, and Dr. Beverly Crusher played by Gates McFadden had gotten votes for various reasons. Actor Kevin Sorbo, who played the lead in “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” said he’d pick Counselor Troi – he didn’t see the need to explain. Michael Madsen, who played Mr. Blonde in the hair-raising movie “Reservoir Dogs” never quite formulated an answer, though he laughed heartily at the ridiculous premise. Professional women wrestlers Nicole Garcia and Brianna Garcia (The Bella Twins) chose Geordi and Data – though I can’t recall which chose which.
Drum roll please …
Data, the straight-faced, greenish-skinned automaton played by Brent Spiner, was chosen for mostly practical reasons. He’s smart, he doesn’t eat, sleep or need oxygen, after all. Armed with that knowledge, I stood in Brent Spiner’s autograph line until I was able to make him aware of his stranded-on-an-asteroid popularity. Attempting to explain the outcome of the vote, he said “Well, there’s a little bit of Data in every man and since I’m Data, there’s a little more in me.”
I’m not sure I follow the logic Lieutenant Commander, but that sense of humor would certainly come in handy on a desert asteroid.
By far the most popular celebrity booth was that of Michael Rooker -- the actor who plays despicable Merle Dixon on “The Walking Dead.” Despite Merle’s abundant on-screen character flaws, people flock to him and Rooker doesn’t disappoint, cutting up with fans as if they were old pals. I’m sure it was the thrill of a lifetime when he pretended to impale a fan with a plastic sword. You’d think zombies would keep a safe distance, but I saw at least one who seemed absolutely star struck by Mr. Rooker.
Finally, at 6 p.m., New Orleans’ own Krewe of Chewbacchus staged a science fiction parade through the convention. In a pre-parade interview, the Chewbaccus folks boasted of a recent prank in which they announced online that plastic Mardi Gras beads had been found by the Mars Rover.