A Celebration Light-Years in the Making

The York Maize Maze in England celebrates the 40th anniversary of
The York Maize Maze in England celebrates the 40th anniversary of "Star Trek." (© Kippa Matthews)
Sunday, August 13, 2006

WHAT: The 40th anniversary of "Star Trek"

WHY: Gene Roddenberry's science-fiction show first aired on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, while the United States was entrenched in Vietnam. The mandate: "To boldly go where no man has gone before." It's crowded there now: Six television series and 10 movies later, it's estimated that the "Star Trek" fan base is 250 million.

CONVENTIONS: Richard Arnold, who was Roddenberry's longtime personal assistant, has attended more than 850 conventions, and he predicts this year's bunch will be the best in years. Contrary to what you might think, he says, "only about 1 percent of fans show up in costumes." More historical context: Gary Berman, co-owner of Creation Entertainment, which runs sci-fi conventions, says tickets cost $1.50 and rooms $19 at his first "Trek" convention in 1971.

The partying starts Thursday at the official "Star Trek" convention at the Las Vegas Hilton. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy -- a.k.a. Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock -- will riff onstage about the "Trek" phenomenon. Tickets start at $40 (general admission).

Don't worry if you can't make it: Both actors will be at "Trek" celebrations in Chicago (Wyndham O'Hare, 6810 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont) and Sacramento (Doubletree Hotel, 2001 Point West Way). The two conventions are Sept. 8-10; tickets are $20 (general admission) to $199 and up (packages).

NYST40, the New York Area 40th Anniversary Star Trek Convention, runs Nov. 10-12 at the Crowne Plaza Meadowlands Hotel in Secaucus, N.J. Highlights include three starship captains (Shatner, Avery Brooks from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and Kate Mulgrew from "Star Trek: Voyager") and music video and centerpiece contests. Tickets: $25 (general admission) to $299 (packages).

Info on all three confabs: 818-409-0960, .

A "Star Trek" gala atop Seattle's Space Needle -- where else? -- will be part of the Planet Xpo and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame's festivities Sept. 8-10. Film producer Sky Douglas Conway says guests "will honor those influenced by 'Star Trek' who have gone on to change the world," including Martin Cooper, father of the cellphone. Walter Koenig (Chekov in the original series) will beam in for the gathering. Tickets: $25 (general admission) to $175 and up (packages). Info: 239-498-7821, .

WAYS TO KEEP ON TREKKING: You can travel near or far to get your "Trek" fix this fall.

· Washington. The Smithsonian owns Tribbles (the furry critters that bedeviled Kirk & Co.) and phasers, but alas, they're not on display. You can see the starship USS Enterprise model used on the show at the National Air and Space Museum, on the lower level of its store. Spokesman Peter Golkin says the 200-pound, 11-foot-long ship is mostly wood. The store itself stocks a "Star Trek" cookbook, trivia book, encyclopedia and "The Physics of Star Trek."

· New York. Want a used Romulan warbird (estimated value $8,000 to $12,000) or mustard Starfleet mini-dress worn in the original series ($4,000 to $6,000)? From Oct. 5 to 7, Christie's at Rockefeller Center will auction 4,000 "Star Trek" items -- ranging from the original series to the recent "Star Trek: Nemesis" movie. The 6 1/2-foot Enterprise-D model ($25,000 to $35,000) might bankrupt you, but a Borg head is expected to go for $600 to $800. You can pay $25 to preview the items, or buy a catalogue ($90) and get two tickets to the auction. Info: 800-395-6300, .

· Las Vegas. Visit Star Trek: The Experience, an interactive museum ($38.99) at the Las Vegas Hilton. The Borg Invasion ride? Mandatory. Vulcan wedding vow renewal? Optional. Info: 888-462-6535, .

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