Vic Fontaine was a 24th century Human hologram on Deep Space 9 created as part of a program simulating 1962 Las Vegas on Earth. He was a singer and entertainer who ran Vic's Las Vegas Lounge. His holoprogram, along with his charming personality, quickly became a favorite among the DS9 crew and were frequently accessed.
Life on Deep Space 9Edit
Vic's program was created by Felix and generally modeled after popular mid-20th century entertainers such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He had a repertoire of vocal-jazz era and cabaret songs that he performed with his band. Vic was designed to be self-aware and fully interactive with the program's participants and in fact was fully aware of his status as a hologram. Fontaine was so sophisticated that he was able to turn himself on and off whenever he desired. Furthermore, he was programmed to be highly perceptive and intuitive, creating a warm, welcoming, down-to-earth character that everyone found very approachable and endearing. In that capacity he proved to be a valuable mentor to many residents of DS9. Felix gave the program to his friend, Doctor Julian Bashir who installed it in one of the station's holosuites at Quark's.
Because he was so advanced, the station crew began to think of Vic as more than just a mere hologram. Odo sought Vic's advice when he wanted to win over Kira Nerys' heart and was unsure as how to approach her and confess his feelings for her. Fontaine turned Odo into a tuxedo-clad piano player and invited a pair of beautiful holo-showgirls so that Odo could practice being at ease around women and develop his social skills. Vic played matchmaker by telling Kira about Odo's feelings for her and arranging a date for them in his nightclub. However, he did not tell Odo that it was the real Kira he was having dinner with, thus enabling Odo to be himself around her as he believed he was having dinner with a holo-Kira. In the end, Vic's advice and matchmaking paid off: Kira finally came around and the two became a pair. In fact, they felt such an obligation to Vic that when once Vic and his program were in jeopardy, they felt that they owed him and immediately came to the rescue. (DS9: "His Way", "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang")
Kira and Odo were not the only ones who felt a great deal of gratitude and affection towards Vic. After Ensign Nog lost his leg on AR-558, he struggled, both emotionally and physically, to cope with his disability, even though his new biosynthetic leg worked perfectly. Angry and frustrated with his situation, Nog decided to immerse himself in the world of Vic Fontaine and spend the remainder of his medical leave on the holosuite, "living" with Vic. Gradually, Nog regained his self-confidence and had even become Vic's personal accountant; profits rose and Vic grew to enjoy his relationship with the young man and the program's round-the-clock operation. However, Ezri Dax reminded him that Nog needed to return to reality. Nog protested when Vic tried to get him to leave Vegas, leading Vic to be forced to just shut down the program, thanks to another one of Felix's ingenious subroutines. When Vic reactivated himself, he was able to convince Nog to return to the real world and live his life again. Nog was finally convinced and in exchange for everything Vic had done for him, he arranged for Vic's program to stay online continuously, enabling him to experience something close to real-life. (DS9: "It's Only a Paper Moon")
In 2375, a hidden subroutine, which Chief Miles O'Brien jokingly called a "jack-in-the-box", was activated in Vic's program, leading to unexpected plot developments. Felix had intended to introduce some thrill and excitement to the usual routine, so during the original programming he inserted this subroutine to shake things up a bit. In his scenario, Vic was fired from his lounge as the mob took over his business, and he was out on the street. The crew of Deep Space 9, most of them willingly, some – such as Benjamin Sisko – reluctantly, joined Vic and helped him get his club back. However, since shutting down the program and resetting it would have led to Vic losing his memories of everything that had happened to him all this time, everyone had to "play along", forcing the crew to devise a con game that got rid of the mobsters and restored the program to the way it was using 1960s methods of breaking into the safe to force the mob to depart from the lounge. (DS9: "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang")
Later that year, Vic put on a special concert for the command crew of Deep Space 9 after the end of the Dominion War. It was the last time they were all gathered together before many took new assignments and left the station. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
Songs in Vic's repertoire Edit
- "You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You"
- "Here's to the Losers"
- "Come Fly with Me"
- "The Best Is Yet to Come"
- "I'll Be Seeing You"
- "Just in Time"
- "It's Only a Paper Moon"
- "I've Got the World on a String"
- "I've Got You Under My Skin"
- "Moon River"
- "They Can't Take That Away from Me"
- "All the Way"
- "The Way You Look Tonight"
Background information Edit
Vic Fontaine was played by actor/singer James Darren. Darren commented on his role: "When I talked to Ira Behr and Hans Beimler, and they said, 'You know you did a really wonderful job in the show,' I said, 'Without those terrific words to say, I could never have done it', because they write this character so beautifully". (Cinefantastique, Volumes 31/32)
Ira Steven Behr commented on the origins of the Vic Fontaine character: "During season four, I decided I wanted to bring a character onto the series played by Frank Sinatra Jr. to be a guy like Yoda who would show up periodically. Not in every episode, obviously, but occasionally like in the teaser or something, where we'd find one of characters coming to this Vegas nightclub in the early 1960's and asking for advice about life, love and the opposite sex. He would be dispensing this advice, and we would be wondering, 'Who is this guy and how does he know so much? So Robert Wolfe and I wrote a scene. Now Frank Sinatra, Jr. is a big fan of Star Trek, so Ron Surma got in touch with him and we sent him the scene. When I spoke to Frank, he thought it was very funny, but he said that he did not want to play a singer, he wanted to play an alien. And so it did not happen. The following year while we were writing "A Simple Investigation", Rene Echevarria said, 'Let's put the scene with the night-club singer in here. And I said, 'We're not gonna get Frank Sinatra, Jr. but maybe we can get Steve Lawrence or someone. So Rene wrote a scene, and that's when the character became Vic Fontaine. But the show was too long and we heard that Steve Lawrence wasn't available, so it never really made it beyond the first draft. And that was the end of that. Until one day. Then one day I was driving in my car. You know, it's not a very long trip between my office and home, but I do tend to think a lot in the car. And I suddenly realized that we were in the midst of year six. And that in terms of Deep Space Nine more had gone behind us than was in front of us. I thought, 'Time's running out!'. And I said to myself, 'I want to do everything that I ever wanted to do on this show! We're doing Vegas baby, and we're not doing one lousy freakin' scene of it, we're doing the whole show about it. And we're going to have music! And we're going to have song! And we are going to consummate the relationship between Odo and Kira! That's what the show going to be about". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Behr recalled how James Darren came to be cast as Vic: "Casting Jimmy Darren is a story in itself. My friend Fred Rappaport, who wrote two early episodes of Deep Space Nine, and I went to the Beverly Garland Hotel in the Valley to a memorabilia show. Why? One, because we like to, and two, I always get my cousin his birthday present there. So we're there and Jimmy Darren is there signing autographs. And Fred says, 'Oh, look, Jimmy Darren'. So Fred goes over there and does his Fred thing, because Fred knows everything about everyone. So he's talking to Jimmy Darren about his spaghetti sauce - Jimmy Darren once had spaghetti sauce. And Jimmy looks like he can't believe someone is asking about spaghetti sauce. So I'm like five feet away. I haven't gone over to the table, I'm just looking at Fred in all his glory, as I am want to do because it's very entertaining and I see that this guy is handling Fred so well and is so smooth and so friendly and so likeable and looks so good. By now we had met with Robert Goulet and had tried to get Steve Lawrence, and Tom Jones, and Jerry Vale, so when Fred comes back I say, 'You know, I'm doing a show on Deep Space Nine about a Vegas lounge singer and that may be the guy. I'm gonna go talk to him'. And Fred says, 'You can't talk to him here!' I say, 'What do you mean I can't talk to him here? You just talked to him about his spaghetti sauce'. Fred says, 'He's gonna think you're a mental patient!' I say, 'He's gonna think I'm a mental patient?' He says, 'You can't do it here'. I said, 'I have a business card, I'm legit'. He says, 'No, no, no, you can't do it here. Go to work on Monday, talk to your casting guy and do it that way. So I listen to Fred. So on Monday I talk to Ron Surma. And Ron sent Jimmy the script. A few days later Ron says, 'You know Jimmy's been directing for fifteen years, but he's gonna come in. We're not gonna have a whole casting session, he's gonna come in alone and we don't know if he's gonna read'. So the other writers and I go out to lunch. And sitting there at lunch, at our favorite sushi restaurant, I'm telling the guys that Jimmy Darren's coming in. To which they want to know, 'Who's that?' I say, 'Moondoggie'. No response. 'Moondoggie', from Gidget. No response. I say, 'The Time Tunnel guy' . Nothing. 'Remember the guy with the turtleneck in The Time Tunnel? Not really, vaguely. 'Okay', I yell, William Shatner's sidekick in TJ Hooker. Oh!! Yeah!! Sure!! These people have Star Trek on the brain. It's like it all has to come back to Star Trek in some way, shape or form. So Jimmy Darren comes in, and he's talking about how he owns a pair of Dean Martin's shoes, and he knows where to get the right tuxedos, at Sy Devore's store, and all of that stuff, and he's being great. We're all listening to him. And suddenly he starts talking about him and Frank and Dean and gambling and making all this money, and suddenly we realize that he's doing the part. It catches us totally by surprise. We're sitting there with the script pages and don't even realize it! He had gone right from being Jimmy to being Vic - without a beat. After he did that, we said goodbye and I started freaking out that he was great. But then I started to say, 'Well, maybe we should see some other people, just to be on the safe side' and Hans Beimler just said, 'Are you out of your mind? What are you talking about? Vic Fontaine was just in the room! There's no question, there's no question! He's the guy!' And he was". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Frank Sinatra Jr. was initially approached for this role, but he only wanted to play an alien character. The writers also thought about Robert Goulet, Tom Jones, Steve Lawrence or Jerry Vale for the role. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
When asked about the origins of the character's name, Ronald D. Moore commented, "I asked Ira this very question not too long ago, and he said that both 'Vic' and 'Fontaine' were simply names that he's always liked and wanted to combine them." (AOL chat, 1998)
Vic Fontaine immediately became highly regarded by fans, cast members, and members of the production crew. Kira Nerys actress Nana Visitor remarked, "He was terrific [....] I think he's going to be a character that will [...] maybe even have the capability of walking around the station. He was that good. I wouldn't be surprised." Ira Behr explained, "Vic is enormously popular here, not only with the writing staff but with the entire crew. There's a lot of fun to be had [with the character]." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 52-53 & 59)
Fontaine appears a few times in the first and third books of the Deep Space Nine Millennium book trilogy. In the first book, he helps the crew of DS9 escape a holographic version of the station's detention cells. In the third book, Odo meets Fontaine in a version of DS9 that exists outside of the normal realm of space and time- Fontaine actually managing to leave the holodeck during this experience-, the Vic the crew encounter after the crisis is over retaining his memories of his encounter with Odo despite the fact that the timeline where they occurred should not exist, prompting Odo to wonder what that scenario says about the nature of time and Vic's own existence. Fontaine also continues to confuse the crew with his 20th century references (such as the Rocket to the Moon ride at Disneyland).
After the destruction of Deep Space 9 in the Star Trek: Typhon Pact novel Plagues of Night, Quark reveals in the following novel Raise the Dawn that he violated the rule against bringing provisions to bring along a memory module containing Vic's program - reasoning that he wasn't violating space restrictions as he could simply hold the module above his head and take up as much space as a Human - intending to reactivate Vic once he has acquired a suitable holosuite. In the Star Trek: The Fall novel Revelation and Dust, Quark is attempting to have Vic's program transferred from the module to holosuites on the new Deep Space 9.