Celebrities Receive Smithee Awards at Origins '99

This year's Smithee Awards, Smithee Awards™ VIII: Spawn of Smithee, could go down as the best ever: after eight years of nothin', we finally bagged a couple of celebrities.

Walter Koenig (of STAR TREK)

First, we cornered Walter Koenig (of STAR TREK) at his Q&A session. As Bryan stood up, introduced himself and the Smith-ka-teers, and began to explain what the Smithees were all about, Mr. Koenig's jaw dropped. Then Matt presented him the award and told him it was for Moontrap.
Mr. Koenig's exact words: "But I don't want it."
He gave the impression that he thought Moontrap was a good movie, despite some admitted flaws. He eventually accepted the statuette (reluctantly) when we explained that it was for Worst Cover Copy, and that since he didn't win in any other category, he was by no means the worst we had to offer. (We didn't tell him that, although he didn't win, he put in a really good showing for his "Let's Up the Rating to 'R'" and Worst Acting nominations.) We also wanted to convey that we have the utmost respect for the rest of his body of work, but at that point we thought it best not to push our luck.

When the Q&A was over, Walter stood and quietly left the room, leaving his statuette behind. Hmm... "Oh, well," we thought, "that's about what we expected." We were poised to recycle the award by giving it to Jeff Conaway later (see below), when an aide rushed up and said, "Mr. Koenig just realized he forgot his Smithee Award. He sent me to get it." I guess he "wanted" it after all.

And so, the award took a place of honor by his left hand throughout his public autograph signing, where it attracted some attention. Where is it now? That's anybody's guess, since rumor has it that he again "forgot" it at the booth after the signing.

Jeff Conaway

Later, during the ceremony itself, we were honored with a guest appearance by none other than Jeff Conaway, who, among other things, starred as Taxi's Bobby Wheeler, Grease's Kenicke, and Babylon 5's Zack Allen. (Hmm... Zack Allen. Allen Smithee. Coincidence?) I'm sure it was just an oversight, but notably absent from his convention book filmography was a Smithee film entitled A Time to Die, where he played a sleazy, corrupt police detective who threatens a single mom (Traci Lords) and her son. It was for this film that he received an honorary Smithee in the "WHAT?!" category, becoming the first celebrity to voluntarily accept the award, and the first ever actually to attend a Smithee ceremony. Although none of his clips ever won a category, we felt that Mr. Conaway deserved an honorary award because, hey, he was there. Besides, you know what they say: it's an honor just to be nominated.

Mr. Conaway graciously accepted his award and gave a hilarious speech about how he and his coworkers once awarded a turd to their hard-drinking director. Then he left with his wife (who had also attended), only to return moments later to announce that "the thing already broke!"
Well, it's not like we expected you to put it under a bell jar on your mantel, Jeff.

The statuettes themselves were things of beauty to behold: a golden trash can on a lead-filled film canister, with the word "SMITHEE" winding around the front on a strip of film. Kudos to Matthew Quirk, our Graphics Guru, for their design and creation. Let's hope he has opportunity to build many more.

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