Tim Russ at Grand Slam, Pasadena,
March 28 & 29, 2003
The "Grand Slam" is an annual event organized by Creation
Entertainment and it is well-known for the variety of actors they bring on stage
over one weekend. Of course, this also means that everybody is only on stage for
a short period, approximately half an hour.
Since Friday morning started slow I stopped by at the left corner of the
stage, where the Neil Norman orchestra had their stand and said "hi!".
Bill Burchell was obviously surprised to see me, but he immediately recovered
and said smiling: "I know why you are here - Tim will be here later
today!" Seems like he is beginning to know me... Then he asked if I had
heard that Tim's latest album, "Brave New World" was out. I told him I
already had it, since I had bought it in Italy 3 weeks ago, to which he replied
something like: "Of course! Tim did a convention in Italy recently, I
should have known you would have been there!" Indeed, Bill, you should
have! I asked him to sign my copy of the CD, since he co-produced it and played
the keyboard on it, and he did.
Friday was Voyager-day. After Robert Beltran made his appearance around lunch
time (he is the only one of the Voyager actors that attended the convention,
whose autograph was not included in the weekend-pass), four more Voyager
actors were scheduled for the late afternoon. Tim was first. He started out with
a song from that new CD, namely "Who's Been Talkin'?" Then he greeted
the audience and told them what he had been up to lately. He mentioned his
recent directing jobs, the new CD, his voice-work for the upcoming "Elite
Force II"-computer game and a new audio-book he was about to record, the
third one in the "Genesis Wave"-series. I cried out: "the
fourth!" He obviously heard me, since he asked: "Is it the fourth
already?" And I replied: "Yes!" Volume 3 was released about a
year ago and he signed it for me in Vegas last summer, so I do know!
He also mentioned having been in Italy recently, which apparently he had
enjoyed, except for the cars - he thought there were so many cars that there was
not enough parking space for them and people parked them everywhere, on the
sidewalk, at the corners, in second line - everywhere. I have been to Italy
myself, and he does have a point here, they really park their cars in odd places
and ways, but I think that's as much due to the Italian way of life than to a
scarcity of parking space.
He then took questions from the audience. The first one was about "Barge
of the Dead". The fan had heard that the story had originally been pitched
for Tuvok. Why was it turned into a B'Elanna-story? Tim said that in his opinion
the episode worked well the way it was produced. Yes, it had originally been a
Tuvok-story, but apparently the producers thought they would get more mileage
out of it by doing it with B'Elanna. Also, it was a background-type of story,
and there had already been some stories about Tuvok's background, and maybe the
writers felt it was B'Elanna's turn to get more exploration of her background.
Another question was about Tuvix - had there been plans for Tim to play the
part? Once again he said yes, there had been such plans, but that the writers
ultimately decided not to have him or Ethan Phillips play the character but
somebody new. In his opinion that was the right decision since he (and Ethan
Phillips as well) would probably have favored his own character and made Tuvix
more like Tuvok than like Neelix, while a third actor, who had no bias one way
or the other, could portray the combined character better, and in his opinion
Tom Wright had done a great job.
He also got a question about how he felt when he got the script for
"Flashback", the 30th Anniversary of Star Trek-episode on Voyager, and
he said how much he liked that particular episode and what a blast it was doing
this, with all the background on Tuvok and a chance to connect his character to
He also said that in his opinion Tuvok grew in many ways over the series, he
went through some really important experiences, like e.g. in "Meld",
"Gravity" or "Riddles" and that he thought it would make
sense that the character would learn from those experiences and grow as a person
and that he therefore tried to incorporate those in his later performances to
show how these had affected Tuvok.
Since he gave such detailed replies to the questions there was time only for
4 or 5 of them till he was informed that he only had a few more minutes. He
finished answering the last question and announced he would sing one more song,
then went over to the Neil Norman band, picked up his guitar again and performed
"Can't Do it Like That". I also must say that most questions he got
were about how did he feel that he could not do this or do that on Voyager. And
although there seems to be a general feeling among the audience that he got
short-changed on the show (and I couldn't agree more!), he was not bitter in any
way and his answers were enjoyable, insightful and professional.
Next on stage was Bob Picardo, whose talk I missed completely, since Tim
was doing a photo session at the same time. Jedda and Angela were with him and I
gave Jedda the pictures of Maddy I had taken in Italy and the three of us looked
at the pictures and talked a bit while Tim posed with some fans. When it was my
turn for the picture he actually asked me what I was doing here, spending money on a picture
when I could have it free! Isn't that sweet of him? When he was finished with
the fans Jedda sat down next to him to show him the Maddy-pictures and Angela
and I took pictures of the two of them. They both liked the Maddy-pictures a lot
and since Jedda suggested to give a few to their respective mothers and Tim
apparently wanted to keep them, he told her she should scan them in first. Then
he had an even better idea. He turned to me and asked: "You do have them on
your website, don't you?" And when I said yes, he said: "Good, then I
can download them from there." He actually said that!
I was back in the auditorium for Ethan Phillips' talk, who was next. Tim and
his two ladies remained backstage, though, since when Ethan Phillips mentioned
his colleagues from Voyager, especially "a certain Vulcan, who we called
the gas giant", Tim came out and pretended to fight with Ethan Phillips, to
make him pay for this insult! It does show that these guys are really good friends, even
outside the show!
Ethan Phillips then introduced Jennifer Lien, and he obviously made her relax
a bit, when they greeted each other in character, and she really surprised me on
stage. She still does not talk much, but she talked. I don't think I've ever
heard her say as much as this time and I am very happy for her.
The four then signed autographs for the weekend ticket holders. Angela needed
a few extra autographs from Bob and Ethan and had already asked them so many
favors that she didn't want to bother them again, so she asked me if I could get
her stuff signed as well - she would move me to the front of the line in return.
Of course I did that - first, I didn't have to wait as long (they did autographs
row by row and I was in row H), second, Bob and Ethan were really impressed with
how many pictures I wanted signed by them. They are both real sweethearts as
well! It was great to see the four sitting side by side and doing autographs
together. The line moved very slowly, though, since the three guys had opened up
a little market place, selling their various CDs (Bob Picardo has a new one out
as well, called "Extreme Bob", which also features Tim with one song
and Ethan Phillips playing the sax in another one), the Hologram's Handbook and
Neelix's Cookbook. So I was very grateful that I hadn't had to wait till they
called my row.
Tim had a really nice b&w pic on his table that I had not seen before and
he gave it to me in exchange for the Maddy-pictures. Then I bought more copies
of "Brave New World" for my friends and said good-bye to Tim and his
Tim and Jennifer were finished after autographs, Bob and Ethan still had the
evening theater performance, where they did a hilarious play, called "House
Call", which is set 2 years after the end of Voyager and deals with the
Doctor going over to Neelix's home in the Delta Quadrant to cure Neelix's little
son Alex from a rare disease. They were wonderful, very funny, and they even
sang! I knew Bob Picardo can sing, but Ethan Phillips was not too shabby either,
and they did a piece from "Man of La Mancha", which is one of my
Later this day I talked to the lady sitting next to me in the auditorium and
she said she had been so impressed with Tim, she had never seen him before, but
found him very good and entertaining on stage. She only regretted that she
couldn't get his CDs, since he did not sell them during autographs. Well - I did
buy a few, so he had them there. But of course, I was early in the line thanks
to Angela, and she had to wait a long time, so I suspect Tim once again ran out
of his CDs during autographs. He never seems to bring enough!
Saturday's guests were Armin Shimerman and most of the TOS-cast. Armin was
first. When I came into the auditorium maybe 10 minutes before his talk
supposedly would begin, the organizers announced an "unscheduled surprise
event" - Tim would be doing a few more songs together with the Neil Norman
Orchestra! Can you imagine my surprise? Nobody had said anything to me the day
before, not Tim, not Jedda or Angela, and not Bill either. It was just good luck
that I was there in time - had I come in 5 minutes later I would have missed
most of his performance. He did the last two songs from the "Tim
Russ"-CD, "The Great Divide" and "Love The One You're
With", and then he left the stage to Armin.
When I caught Bill again on Sunday to say good-bye he asked me if I had
seen Tim the day before and I said yes, but how surprised I had been and that
nobody had given me a warning he would be doing that. Bill said this had not
been planned. Tim had for some reason left his guitar with them on Friday night
and he came in on the Saturday to pick it up and then he decided, oh well, since
I am here anyway, why don't we do a song or two, and that's what they did. And
Bill also said Tim had talked to him about the convention in Vegas this summer
and that they might be doing a band gig there again this year. I so hope they
will, because I am toying with the idea of going there!
As you can imagine, the convention was great fun and I enjoyed myself a lot.
The guests on Saturday and Sunday were fantastic as well, and the only gripes I
have with the organizers are:
- the auditorium was way too dark to take decent pictures and
- it would not have hurt to give everybody at least 40-45 minutes on stage
Other than that the weekend was perfect!
Here you can see how "successful" I was with pictures this time
around. At least one can recognize the actors!
"Gas Giant's Revenge" - I know it's blurred, but it gives you
an idea how hilarious those guys are on stage. It looks like Tim is
My new autographed picture of Tim