Among the extensive and interstellar guest list for Mega Con Tampa Bay which was held this past Halloween weekend from Saturday October 29th to Sunday October 30th, 2016, were two of Star Trek The Next Generation’s most recognizable and beloved character celebrities, Levar Burton who played the blind ship’s engineer Geordi LaForge along with his electronic companion, Data as played by Brent Spiner.
Even with Mega Con Tampa Bay’s very impressive celebrity guest list, the STNG celebrity panel featuring both Burton and Spiner was extremely well attended with one of the convention center’s largest ballrooms filled almost to capacity as the attended fans gathered to pay homage, listen and laugh along with both actors. The galactic duo were not just entertaining and funny, but also quite reverent when speaking about their individual experiences working with two members of the original Star Trek series who appeared on the Next Generation, James Doohan and DeForst Kelley.
Throughout the hour long STNG Q & A panel the pair of Next Gen Trek actors were for the most part asked a number of well thought out and interesting questions, chief among them being a question asked of Levar Burton about his experience working with James Doohan on the STNG episode entitled, “Relics‘, in which the Enterprise D comes across the long missing and legendary chief engineer of the Enterprise A, Montgomery Scott, who must team up with the LaForge in order to save his Enterprise from certain destruction.
In describing his experience working alongside Doohan, the well spoken Burton said, “As a fan of the original series it was AMAZING to be in scenes with Jimmy Doohan.” shaking his head affirmatively as Spiner sat pensively next to him as if looking back on the episode himself with Burton continuing to say “. . . it was just freaking amazing!” as the Reading Rainbow star smiled and shook his head affirmatively with a nod and agreement from his STNG co-star.
Interestingly Brent Spiner then jumped in saying, “Let me just say also, I had the opportunity also on the very first episode and pilot have a few minutes with Deforest Kelley on camera and I think everybody connected with the original series,” With Levar Burton shaking his head affirmatively next to him as Spiner went on, “. . . and we know all of them” gesturing back to Burton, “. . . and their all good guys. Uhh . . . they don’t think that of each other but we do.” as the crowd laughs to Spiner’s joke with the actor looks toward Burton for agreement, who is himself amused, smiling and also agreeing halfheartedly.
Turning back to the gathered fans Spiner continues in a reverent tone and a large smile to say, “But I think they would all agree that Deforest was kind of the best of all of them.” with Burton again shaking his head with his eyes wide open saying simply from the heart, “Yeah.” respectfully looking out over the crowd agreeing entirely with Brent Spiner.
“He was loved by all of them and for really good reasons.” As the crowd begins clapping and cheering with Spiner finishing off very respectfully and sincerely saying, “He was an awesome human being!”