Where No Mythbuster Has Gone Before

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From left: Chris Doohan (Mr. Scott), Wyatt Lenhart (Ensign Chekov), Chuck Huber (Dr. McCoy), Vic Mignogna (Capt. Kirk), Kim Stinger (Lt. Uhura), Grant Imahara (Mr. Sulu), and Todd Haberkorn (Mr. Spock).

Rafu Staff Report

Grant Imahara already has a resume that is the envy of techies everywhere. On the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” he gets to blow stuff up, and as an animatronics expert he has worked on movies in the “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” “Terminator” and “Matrix” franchises.

Grant Imahara with one of his “Mythbusters” experiments.

The USC alumnus is one of the operators of R2D2 and the Energizer Bunny. He is a frequent guest on CBS’ “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and created the show’s creepy robot/skeleton sidekick, Geoff.

But his latest job title may be the coolest of all — helmsman of the USS Enterprise.

Imahara has been cast as Hikaru Sulu — the character first played by George Takei in the original “Star Trek” — in a new online series, “Star Trek Continues.” The series will present the further adventures of the Enterprise crew from the 1966-69 show, with a new cast.

Imahara is joining Chris Doohan, son of original “Star Trek” actor James Doohan, as Scotty; “Fullmetal Alchemist” and “Dragonball Z” voice actor Vic Mignogna as Capt. Kirk; Kim Stinger, formerly of another fan series, “Star Trek: Phase II,” as Lt. Uhura; Chuck Huber as Dr. McCoy; Wyatt Lenhart as Ensign Chekov; and Todd Haberkorn as Mr. Spock. Mignogna is also the producer and director.

“A great deal of thought and consideration went into assembling the best cast possible,” said Mignogna. “Every one of them is an accomplished and skilled professional who brings so much to the production. From the beginning, we committed to having experienced actors who would bring deep and endearing performances, and that’s exactly what we have. I hope the avid admirers of ‘Star Trek’ will enjoy this cast’s work as much as we are going to enjoy making it.”

Mignogna has pointed out that many of the fan films use non-actors — and it shows.

Production of two vignettes has been completed at Farragut Films Studio in Kingsland, Ga. One was shown at a “Star Trek” convention in Baltimore on the weekend of Aug. 4-5 and has been made available online at www.startrekcontinues.com and on Vimeo. That vignette begins with a re-enactment of the final scene of the original series’ final episode, “Turnabout Intruder,” and uses it as a launching point for the new series.

Shooting for the first full episode will begin in October, with the premiere tentatively set for January. Mignogna told Trekmovie.com that the episode will be a sequel to an episode of the original series and will feature the original guest star.

The show is a partnership between Dracogen Strategic Investments and Farragut Films, which is already producing an online series set in the era of the original “Star Trek,” “Starship Farragut.”

Imahara is no stranger to “Star Trek.” A segment of “Mythbusters” was devoted to “Arena,” a classic episode of the original series in which Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) has to face off against a reptilian species called the Gorn. Stranded on a desert planet with no weapons, Kirk uses the materials at hand to make a crude cannon and disables his Gorn counterpart.

Grant Imahara as Sulu and Wyatt Lenhart as Chekov.

The “Mythbusters” co-hosts had fun re-enacting scenes from the episode with Imahara as Spock, Tory Belleci as Kirk and Jessi Combs as a yeoman.

The team tried to see if Kirk’s cannon would work in real life. With hand-mixed gunpowder, the weapon just emitted smoke. With real gunpowder, the bamboo cannon exploded, damaging the dummy standing in for Kirk. With a reinforced bamboo cannon, some of the projectiles hit the Gorn, but again the explosion would have killed Kirk. Conclusion — the myth was busted.

“Star Trek Continues” gives Imahara an opportunity to don a Starfleet uniform and this time play it straight instead of tongue-in-cheek.

The show will also add to his resume as an actor. Currently, IMDb lists only two acting credits for Imahara, the latest being a guest role as Sir Angus De Cranium in an episode of “The League of S.T.E.A.M.” (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management).

In an interview with CraveOnline on the set of “Star Trek Continues,” Imahara commented, “The entire time we were filming, it’s like the best summer camp you could possibly have. My 8-year-old self is like freaking out … I’m sitting in the chair (at the helm on the bridge of the Enterprise) and I can’t believe what’s happening.”

His favorite episode of the original series is “Mirror, Mirror,” which took place in an alternate universe where the Enterprise crew was evil. In that episode, “Mirror Sulu” kept hitting on Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and tried to kill Capt. Kirk.

As a footnote to “Star Wars” fans, Imahara wants everyone to know that although he worked on the prequels, he is not responsible for the much-maligned CGI character Jar Jar Binks.

How Many Sulus?

In addition to the original series, the “Star Trek” franchise includes four more series (“Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Deep Space 9,” “Voyager” and “Enterprise”) and 11 movies. All of these are considered “canon” or part of the official “Star Trek” story. The 1970s animated series and various novels, video games and comic books are officially licensed but are not considered canon.

John Lim as Sulu in “Star Trek: New Voyages.”

Then there are the fan films, which are neither licensed nor canon. Since there hasn’t been any “Star Trek” TV series since 2005 and there is a long wait between movies (the last one came out in 2009 and the next one is due in 2013), some fans have created their own stories and posted them on the Internet. They are set in the “Star Trek” universe but usually involve new characters and new situations.

The owners of “Star Trek” (Paramount for the movies and CBS for the TV shows) tolerate the fan films as long as they aren’t used to make a profit. And profit is definitely not the motive, as fans invest a great deal of their own money into these productions.

Officially, the only actors who have played Kirk, Spock and company are the original cast and the cast of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” movie, which featured younger versions of the characters. John Cho, also known for the “Harold and Kumar” and “American Pie” movies, plays young Sulu in the 2009 film and the upcoming sequel.

George Takei as Sulu in “World Enough and Time.”

Unofficially, in addition to “Star Trek Continues,” there is another web series, “Star Trek: Phase II” (originally called “Star Trek: New Voyages”), that also picks up where the original series left off. Attorney-turned-actor John Lim played Sulu in four episodes and J.T. Tepnapa in two. Tepnapa appeared as a different character in another fan series, “Star Trek: Hidden Frontier.”

The lines between official and unofficial Trek became blurred when Takei himself guest-starred in a 2007 episode of “Star Trek: New Voyages” titled “World Enough and Time.” Sulu (Lim) goes on a dangerous mission and, due to a temporal anomaly, returns as an older Sulu (Takei) with a grown daughter. The episode was nominated for a Hugo, a prestigious science fiction award, for best dramatic presentation.

This may have been Takei’s final appearance as Sulu after playing the character in the original series, the animated series, six movies, audio adventures, an episode of “Voyager,” and video games over a span of more than 40 years.

Although all the positions are filled for now, thanks to the Internet there may yet be another opportunity for an aspiring Asian American actor to play Sulu.

TREK TRIVIA: Other Asian American actors who have made their mark in the “Star Trek” franchise include the following:

France Nuyen played the title role in the original series episode “Elaan of Troyius.”

Miko Mayama played Yeoman Tamura in the original series episode “A Taste of Armageddon.”

Keye Luke played the governor of a penal colony in the original series episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” Shortly before his death in 1991, he was asked to play Dr. Soong, Data’s creator, in an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” but was unable or unwilling to take the role.

Kelvin Han Yee was considered for the role of Data in “Star Trek: TNG.” The part went to Brent Spiner, who also played Dr. Soong.

Julia Nickson was considered for the role of Tasha Yar in “Star Trek: TNG.” The part went to Denise Crosby. Nickson guest-starred in one episode each of “TNG” and “Deep Space Nine” as different characters.

Patti Yasutake had a recurring role as Nurse Ogawa in “Star Trek: TNG” and appeared in the movies “Star Trek: Generations” and “Star Trek: First Contact.”

Rosalind Chao had a recurring role as botanist Keiko O’Brien in “Star Trek: TNG” and “Deep Space Nine.” In one episode of TNG, Caroline Junko King played Keiko as a child.

Hana Hatae had a recurring role as Molly O’Brien, daughter of Keiko and Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney), in “Deep Space Nine.” In one episode, Michelle Krusiec played Molly as an adult.

Clyde Kusatsu had a recurring role as Adm. Nakamura in “Star Trek: TNG.”

Cynthia Gouw played Romulan diplomat Caithlin Dar in the movie “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”

Jacqueline Kim played Ensign Demora Sulu, Hikaru Sulu’s daughter, in the movie “Star Trek: Generations.”

Garrett Wang played Ensign Harry Kim in all seven seasons of “Voyager.” Robert Ito played Harry’s father in one episode and Irene Tsu played his mother in two episodes. Wang also appeared as a different character in the fan film “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men,” which featured several cast members from the franchise. Ito played a Starfleet officer in an episode of “Star Trek: TNG.”

Linda Park played communications officer Hoshi Sato in all four seasons of “Enterprise.” Keone Young played Hoshi’s father in one episode. Young also played baseball star Buck Bokai in an episode of “Deep Space Nine.”

Daniel Dae Kim had a recurring role as Cpl. Chang in “Enterprise.” He was also a guest alien in an episode of “Voyager” titled “Blink of an Eye.”

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2 Comments

  1. Some points:
    New Voyages, Phase 2

    SAG actor in New voyages
    walter koneig, grace lee whitney, malachi throne, etc union stars on New voyages

    union sag and aftra actors can’t work non-union shows. union Universal rule #1
    http://www.sag.org/sagWebApp/Content/Public/HotTopics_GlobalRuleOneFAQ.htm#top

    What is Global Rule One?
    ‘No member shall work as a performer or make an agreement to work as a performer for any producer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the Guild which is in full force and effect.’- from the SAG Constitution

    Members will be required to ensure that a producer is a SAG signatory and to get a SAG contract wherever they work in order to get the protections of SAG’s agreements, even when working outside of the United States.

    cow creek films, not signatory
    http://www.sag.org/sagWebApp/application?origin=candocallout.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=SigInf

    ===

    Using Hidden Frontier are a good example of a fan film is at best ‘wonky’.
    First let’s start with….
    1. It’s phony IMDB listing: “TV Series” ???? NOPE. Never was.
    2. Terrible and overused greenscreen ????? YUK. No handyman around.
    3. Weak acting ??? Don’t use weak performers. Take classes.
    4. Weak writing ??? Scripts must be good. Read a book.
    5. Weak characters ??? Performers are not believable, full and real.
    6. Overused CGI & Electronic computer EFX ??? Use only sparingly.
    7. Overuse of pirated 3rd party property ????? Trademark & copyright issues.
    8. Accept criticism ???? No growth/learning is stagnation.

    IMO, HF falls short in three main areas – 1) Acting; 2) Dialogue; 3) Visual Story Telling.

    All fan run videos usually have most of the same limitations. What makes some better than others is how the different producers either succeed or fail in what’s on screen for the viewer’s to enjoy. This video’s has little watcher “reality” or watchbility, sorry.

  2. Fred Freiberger, Rick Berman, Vic Mignogna, and the Starship Farragut production.

    The four horsemen of the Star Trek Apocalypse!

    It was a dirty thing for Mignogna to do, taking the Kitumba footage and releasing an unauthorized copy that he had no rights to.

    It was even dirtier for the starship Farragut people for their actions or inactions in the event.

    It is now the dirtiest thing, going through with this cheap clone/bad photocopy/bastardization/farce/P2 rip-off.

    One thing is absolutely certain about Farragut Films’ new business partner. Vic Mignogna is definitely the Fred Freiberger of the 21st Century.

    And the idea of the Farragut Films staff led by John Broughton, Michael Bednar, and company being involved in this absurdity, is a clear sign of corporate mismanagement at its most worst.

    No wonder Starship Farragut’s reputation has been severly ruined.

    It amazes me how Vic Mignogna(who is and looks 54 years old)can play a legendary science fiction hero/icon who is in his thirties. Someone who was described as the youngest man to ever command a Federation Starship and successfully return with the ship and crew still intact after an historical five year mission of space exploration and military defense.

    Given Vic Mignogna’s less than hilarious homage(if one could call an insult just that)to the KHANNNN!!!! scene from Star Trek II – The Wrath Of Khan, it is extremely clear that Mignogna doesn’t fit the role of James Tiberius Kirk well. He doesn’t even sound like him.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150285076871951&set=a.49270626950.71758.501976950&type=3&theater

    Rumor on the trekmovie.com board has it that Michael Forest may be returning as Apollo in the premiere episode of Star Trek Continues.

    Given the recent controversy that has surrounded STC, Vic Mignogna, the staff at Farragut Films, and the highly questionable acts of both Mignogna and the Starship Farragut production, one would rather see Michael return as Apollo in an episode of Star Trek-New Voyages/Phase II, than being a part of Vic’s and Farragut Films’ mentally unbalanced rip-off of the P2 production.

    As an actor myself, I wouldn’t want to be associated with a bunch of toxic individuals and their questionable, unethical, revenge driven production.

    If the Ekosians thought that the Zeons were poisoning their home planet in the episode ‘Patterns Of Force’, that ideology would be nothing compared to the way that the Starship Farragut production and its business partner are poisoning the Star Trek universe with this less-than warmed over photocopy of the P2 production.

    The Nomad space probe may have had a point about biological imperfections. Let alone the V’Ger probe in reference to the carbon unit infestations on Earth.

    If this information concerning this rumored sequel to ‘Who Mourns For Adonais?’ is factual, then shame on Farragut Films, its staff, and its business partner for even dragging a real professional actor and all around nice guy like Michael Forest into their feted and festering sewer/pigmire of pettiness, discontent, and personal vengeance. Let alone slandering one of the original series classic episodes.

    How Chris Doohan and Kim Stinger became a part of this ego-driven insanity is beyond any fans’ train of thought. No doubt Gene Roddenberry, Majel Barrett, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan(Christopher Doohan’s famous father)are rolling in their graves at this insult.

    Apparently, the spectre of Judas Iscariot and the payment he received(the 30 pieces of UNPURE silver coinage)has haunted, permeated, and perverted this soon to be bastardization/farce. This is going to be a huge flop, given the recent controversies surrounding this film, the vindictive and toxic motives of its lead actor(if you could call Vic Mignogna that), and the petty foolishness and ignorance of the Farragut Films production staff.

    Star Trek Continues? Star Trek Contempt would be a more direct and succinct description in this matter.

    Stick with Star Trek – New Voyages/Phase II. The only fan film with REAL PROFESSIONAL ACTING and TV/CINEMA PRODUCTION.