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‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ cast reunites for Comic Con event; Capt. Picard on his way

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SALT LAKE CITY — Six members of the award-winning television program "Star Trek: The Next Generation" reunited Thursday night at a special event during the Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience. Comic Con organizers estimated that nearly 2,000 fans were in attendance for the reunion.

Actors Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden and Denise Crosby took the stage in a panel-style discussion and Q-and-A session that was moderated by Star Trek alum William Shatner. The 90-minute reunion covered a plethora of topics, driven by Shatner's humor and insight, and questions from longtime Star Trek fans. it also featured the announcement that Sir Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Picard on "The Next Generation," will be in attendance at FanX on Saturday.

An emotional moment came when one fan, a military veteran and double amputee, told the Star Trek cast: "You guys have no idea what you were doing. … You were the faces I turned to in my time of need and in my time of desperation. I (remember) countless hours of comfort and wisdom and you didn't know you were preaching to us. You were talking to every person in this room."

"I've been in front of an audience for many years and this is probably the most emotional moment I've been connected to," Shatner said. "For a moment here, we had a small insight into the sacrifices that these kids make for this country."

The audience responded with a standing ovation and each member of the panel descended into the crowd to embrace the young man.

To lighten the mood, Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi in the series, said, "I'm going to do the splits now, just to make everybody laugh."

Sirtis kept the audience laughing throughout the evening by rearranging furniture, rejecting potential suitors and poking fun at her fellow cast members.

Other memorable moments came from Frakes' reciting of famous Star Trek dialogue, Spiner's imitations of Captain Jean-Luc Piccard and Dorn's self-deprecating thoughts about his character's on-screen appearance. In the show, Frakes played Commander William Riker; Spiner was the robotic Lieutenant Commander Data; and Dorn starred as the Klingon, Lieutenant Worf.

One fan asked the cast what they believed was the most appealing aspect of "The Next Generation," which aired from 1987-1994.

"I think it's (Star Trek creator) Gene (Roddenbury's) vision of hope for the future that's resonated with the fans," Frakes said.

"There's something about Star Trek. It just connects with people in the most powerful way," Spiner added. "It just has become a part of the fabric of the country."

"Each (episode) is a morality play," Dorn said. "I think that kids today can sit down and watch an episode and get something out of it — some type of story, some type of moral."

Dorn mentioned that he often hears fans say things like, "I didn't watch it, but my mother sat me down and we watched this show."

"Family time," Sirtis agreed. "It's also one of the few shows that the whole family could watch together."

At the end of the event, Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr thanked the cast for their time and thanked the audience for coming out to support the convention, then broke news that Stewart will be in attendance at FanX on Saturday.

For more information about Stewart's surprise appearance at the convention this weekend, a full schedule of activities and a list of celebrity guests, visit saltlakecomiccon.com.

Email: achristensen@deseretnews.com, Twitter: atownmania