It's one thing to wait for a big DVD release, run out, grab the disc, run home and watch it on your killer entertainment system; it's quite another to watch it on the bridge of the Enterprise. Truth be told, the sound and picture are probably better on your home system, but for dyed-in-the-wool Trekkies, Trekkers, and everyone in between, yesterday's release of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek is enough cause to celebrate that the folks behind the current “Star Trek: The Exhibition” at Hollywood & Highland figured the fans might want to come down and grok the film in a most appropriate setting.
For a few hours Tuesday night, the Trek reboot unspooled on the replica of the Enterprise bridge from Star Trek: The Next Generation – a fine carbon copy, complete with a scarily realistic wax figure of Patrick Stewart's Captain Picard on loan from Madame Tussaud's next door – while fans could pull up a seat and watch some of the movie or stroll through the exhibit crammed with ephemera from points all along Trek's over-40-year history. Though tricky to find, tucked as it is at the back of H&H's first level (Remember where that odd back entrance to the Virgin Megastore used to be? Yeah, it's there), the exhibition is quite seriously worth a look-see for the geek at heart. William Shatner's Kirk threads through the years, going all the way back to his chartreuse tunic from the original series, are on display, as are numerous other key costumes, most notably the futuristically pimpin', shredded gold velour getup sported by Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Of course, there will be time yet to catch the exhibit through the holiday season. The real draw for the hardcore Trek followers last night was a visit by Rod Roddenberry, son of late creator Gene Roddenberry, who spent the evening mingling with fans amiably and sharing anecdotes about his father's legacy and the franchise's genesis over the years from a deeply personal perspective. The only child of Roddenberry and actress Majel Barrett, Rod's hands-on connection to the Trek franchise developed during the TNG years, when dad put him to work at age 13 as a P.A. on the set. The release of the Abrams Trek film is an especially poignant footnote in his family's legacy, as it turned out to be the swan song for his late mother, who passed away of leukemia shortly before the film's release. Barrett was arguably the most prolific actor in her husband's canon, portraying a series of characters going all the way back to Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series. She once again provided the voice of the Enterprise's computer in the film. “She was already pretty ill at the time [the film was in production],” Roddenberry reveals, his tone softening somewhat. Then he looks up and smiles: “But the moment they asked her to do it, she just completely lit up.”