Tim Russ at Creation Con in Las Vegas, Aug. 1, 2003
The guest lists for Creation's big conventions seem to get longer every year. This means that some actors don't get individual time slots, but appear on stage in groups. One of these groups was called "The Boys of Voyager" and it consisted of Robert Picardo, Tim and Robert Duncan McNeill. The three only had approximately 40 minutes and I was a bit concerned that there might not be enough time for all three. I would not have had to worry - Tim got more than his fair share of questions.
The first person started by saying that she had a question for each of them (comment by Tim: "Jeez, two more like you, and we are done!"). This reply set the tone for the whole Q&A session. Especially Tim and Bob tried to outwit each other with funny remarks and to lighten things up a bit (both can be hilarious). Robbie was much more subdued than these two, but he provided good answers as well when asked. Neither of the three got any innovative or unusual questions this time, on the contrary, there was some really dull and/or stupid stuff. I downright pitied Robbie McNeill for having to explain to a fan that no, he would not have wanted a wedding scene for Tom and B'Elanna, since a) such big scenes are a pain in the posterior to film and take forever till they are in the can and b) it would have been repetitive, while another fan started her question with "You guys know we love your talking and singing, but some of us would like it even better if you started the stripping..."
Tim's questions were about what it was like to direct "Living Witness", how come somebody with his sense of humor would audition for a character like Tuvok, who is always so serious, how does he like "Flashback" and how does he feel about the treatment of Vulcans on Enterprise. His replies were pretty much the same as always: "Living Witness": great episode, very positive experience, Tuvok was only in it in a couple of scenes, so that he could concentrate on directing, he planned ahead carefully, etc. Playing a Vulcan: the opposite of what they teach you in acting classes, where you learn how to emote, so it was a bit restricting after seven years. "Flashback": great episode, they noticed that one segment of the Excelsior's bridge was never shown in the movie The Undiscovered Country, so they thought it would be a cool idea for the 30th Anniversary episode to put Tuvok there. As to the Vulcans on Enterprise, he admitted that he hasn't seen much of it. In his opinion, Blalock is very subtle, but of course not all Vulcans are alike. Tuvok was different from Spock, Vorik was different from both of them, Saavik was different again, and T'Pol is not like any of them either. When he was told that the question was more about continuity issues than about Blalock's acting he said that in that case writing seems to be the problem and suggested that the audience make their objections known. When the person who had asked the question suggested he should watch a few more episodes (so that he would know what she was talking about), he rolled his eyes in mock annoyance: "I think I will have to give Rick Berman a call and ask him what he is doing with Vulcans on the new show. These convention people are giving me a hard time about it!" And Bob Picardo chimed in: "And the follow-up question, Tim, why haven't you appeared on a centerfold spread out for Maxim yet?", to which Tim retorted: "They don't have enough pages for me!" They really made the most out of the rather dull questions and made the audience laugh.
After the talk the three signed autographs for the weekend ticket holders. Like before when they were onstage, Tim once again sat between the two Roberts. While Robbie was still signing my picture, Tim was already done with the person in front of me. So he looked around, saw me and greeted me. I greeted back and showed him the pic of the two of us from Pasadena. "Oh, is that the picture from Pasadena?" He liked it just as much as I do and signed it. Since there still was a long line of fans waiting for autographs we couldn't talk much, so I said I'd see him later during the concert that evening.
The evening event was a bit chaotic. Creation must have sold around 800-1000 tickets for the party at "Star Trek - The Experience". If you have ever been there, you'll know that only a fraction of this number can fit into Quark's Bar. Apparently the promoters hoped that at least half of the attendants would be on the ride or waiting in line for it at any given time. They probably were right, but even so there was not enough room to accommodate everybody. Most of us ate while standing, plate in hand, since there were nowhere near enough tables. The selection of food was not too overwhelming either: two types of salad, two types of pasta and an eggplant dish - certainly not what you'd expect when they sell tickets at $79 (for those that were not Gold Weekend Patrons).
Since I had dressed up for the event I was not among the first to arrive. A huge crowd had already formed around the area where Chase Masterson and Tim would perform. That did not discourage me, though, since I spotted Bill Burchell at the keyboard. By telling people that I knew this guy and had to talk to him, I slowly made my way up front and when they saw that Bill did indeed recognize me and greet me, nobody felt like chasing me back, so I was in pole position for taking pictures! Chase was first (she is really good!) and Tim followed. He sang and played the guitar and Bill accompanied him on the keyboard. The program was a mix of songs from all 4 CDs, e.g. "Louisiana", "Kushangaza", "Can't Do It Like That", "Soapbox Preacher", "Brave New World", "Sing It", "Love The One You'Re With". The audience was very enthusiastic and after he had finished Tim had to settle down at a table and start selling CDs. The evening was a big success for him!
Little side-story: Two days later I went back to the gift shop area of The Experience since friends had asked me to get a few things for them there. While queuing up at the counter, I overheard a conversation between the shop assistant and another customer. They were talking about Robert Picardo. The shop assistant said, Robert Picardo was a very nice guy and he had been in the gift shop over the weekend, signing his CDs. then he continued: "But Tuvok - Tim Russ - he played in Quark's Bar on Friday night. They transmitted him on speakers all over here. Boy, was he great! He has two CDs out, which we have here in the shop." Beaming with pride that he was so impressed with Tim, I chimed in and explained that Tim is my favorite and that he has recorded four CDs, not two. "Oh, I thought... we only have two. One is called "Tim Russ" and the other one..." his voice trailed off. "Kushangaza", I helped him, since I had seen that one on display in the shop. "Yes, that's the word! I never can remember it!" I then informed him about the early "Only A Dream In Rio" and the latest "Brave New World" and he remembered that Tim had performed the title song, mentioning that it was new. Then he repeated: "He was great, he's a good man!" Not just the fans were impressed with Tim's music, the employees were too!