Category: Star Trek


Published September 21, 2009

While most all of the cast from the original Star Trek series have written memoirs — each of which, like the Gospels, tell differing accounts of the same story — a few stand out from the rest. William Shatner’s Star Trek Memories (1993), and Star Trek Movie Memories (1994) are both extremely entertaining accounts of their titular topics. Likewise, Leonard Nimoy’s I Am Spock (1995 — updated from 1975’s I Am Not Spock) is, as his pointy-eared alter ego would opine, fascinating. Even Harlan Ellison’s The City On the Edge of Forever — The Original Teleplay That Became the Classic Star Trek Episode is a whip-smart, venom-laced, laugh-out-loud rant about Star Trek’s most famous hour.

Add another classic book to these with Nicholas Meyer’s The View From The Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood (2009).
The View From The Bridge
Nick Meyer, as Star Trek aficionados will tell you, is just as responsible for the continuing success of Star Trek as any of those aforementioned gentleman. I would even include Gene Roddenberry in that statement — though the writer/director was often at odds with The Great Bird of the Galaxy.

Meyer, who in the 1970s had written the Sherlock Holmes-meets-Sigmund Freud novel The Seven-Percent-Solution (he also adapted the screenplay) and wrote and made his directorial debut with the H.G. Wells-chases-Jack-the-Ripper-through-modern-day-San-Francisco thriller Time After Time (1979), was called in to see if he could help the ailing Star Trek film franchise after Robert Wise’s bloated-but-profitable The Motion Picture left producers at a loss on how to boldly go forward.

Meyer was not a Trekkie (“Star Trek … is that the one with the guy with pointy ears?”), but after talking with producer Harve Bennett, and screening a few of the original episodes (especially Space Seed), he had an epiphany. Always a big fan of the classic Horatio Hornblower series, Meyer realized that Star Trek was simply Hornblower in space. Roguish Captain with a girl in every port (or on every planet), noble ship, gallant crew … all he had to do was turn up the military aspect a bit (“nautical but nice,” as Meyer says), and heave anchor. Well, that and take the best bits (Khan, the Genesis torpedo, Kirk’s bastard son, Spock’s death) out of five failed screenplays, add touching ruminations on aging and friendship, and in an unbelievable 12 days, write the script that became Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. 12 days — not even enough time to legally wrangle himself a screenwriting credit on the hard-dated production. Meyer also directed the film, and to this day it is considered the best of Star Trek’s cinematic journeys. If this second film had failed, there would have been no more movies, no Next Generation, nor any of the other series which followed — which is why Meyer, among others, can be credited with saving Star Trek. Again.

Meyer would also go on to co-write Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and co-write and direct Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country — the original cast’s swan song.

Many of the anecdotes printed in Meyer’s memoir were previously related on the DVD director commentaries of these films, but the stories are so entertaining, and Meyer’s voice (whether spoken or read) is so good-humored and comforting, it is quite nice to have them in this form. A few of the dates mentioned are obviously wrong (did no one at the publishing house proof this?), but I quibble — this is a wonderful book. Meyer’s most oft asked question about The Wrath of Khan: is Ricardo Montalban’s chest real or prosthetic? Answer: it is real.

While this memoir covers Meyer’s other screenwriting and directorial efforts, like the telefilm The Day After (1983), Volunteers (1985) and The Deceivers (1988), it is smart enough to know who its core audience is, and so breaks itself up into three parts, Pre-Trek, Trek, and Post-Trek. There is a nice symmetry in having this memoir published in 2009 — the same year that J.J. Abrams saved Star Trek. Again again.

Intimate, informative and impossible to put down, The View From the Bridge is a must-read not only for Star Trek fans, but for anyone interested in the craft of screenwriting and filmmaking.


For a fascinating conversation with Meyer, check out this Q&A at a recent book signing.


Published September 7, 2009

Opening the festivities at this year’s Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA, was a comedy act that was so funny, so endearing, and so entertaining, it is no wonder that they’ve been honing this act for over four decades. With an easy rapport not unlike, say, Martin and Lewis, these guys pretty much kept their audience in stitches for an hour. The fact that they are William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy made this all the more cool.

Kirk and Spock
Covering a multitude of different topics (fame, age, Priceline, George Takei), one running bit involved, of course, the new Star Trek movie, and why Shatner wasn’t in it. Bill isn’t bitter about it (or is he?), but his little diatribe was very funny. We’ve known since TOS episodes like The Trouble With Tribbles (not to mention A Piece of the Action and even City on the Edge of Forever) that Kirk and Spock could provide great comedic fodder for each other — Star Trek IV drove this point (on a Voyage) home — but here their comedy chops seem to be firing on all thrusters. Not bad for a couple of guys pushing 80.

Wish I could have been there. Check it out and let me know what you think.

For another fascinating conversation between Bill and Leonard, click here.


Published April 28, 2009

While surfing around YouTube recently, I stumbled upon a 2006 documentary produced by The History Channel, entitled Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier. This 90-minute program, narrated by Leonard Nimoy, is one-half overview of Star Trek’s 40-year legacy, and also a fascinating look at Paramount’s decision to auction off Star Trek props, costumes, ship models (from all the TV series and films), and other memorabilia, stored for four decades in massive warehouses on the studio lot.
USS Enterprise
The project is handled by Christie’s Auction House in New York and, while I don’t want to spoil anything, garners ginormous figures from those looking to take home a piece of history. Some might complain this was Paramount’s last milking of a franchise that, at the time, was seemingly dead (a phrase all-too-familiar to Trek fans) — but with this year’s reboot of Star Trek, was obviously only dormant. What else were they supposed to do with the thousands upon thousands of items gathering dust in storage? Throw them out like any other defunct show’s props? The fact that they decided to utilize the biggest auction house in the world, to let fans from around the globe bid on a piece of history is a pretty cool thing to do. Yes, there is a fine line here between generosity and profiteering, but … I wish I had been able to attend this auction. To bid on what no man has bid on before.
Kirks Chair
If this is something you think you would enjoy (and you know who you are), have at it. Leave a comment when you’re done — I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Published April 18, 2009

Quinto and Pine
While in Australia for the World Premiere* of Star Trek last week, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto sat down with Bruce Moyle of to talk about J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the classic series. This very entertaining ten-minute interview covers such ground as contacting Shatner and Nimoy, the daunting task of stepping into such iconic roles, and what the future holds for the franchise. This is by far the best insight we’ve gotten so far from this dynamic duo.

I have been stoked about this project for months … but between this interview and the slew of rave reviews the film has received, my excitement is now operating on all thrusters. Star Trek opens May 7, 2009.

* Star Trek made its unofficial premiere hours before the one Down Under, at a theater in Austin, Texas where a showing of Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan was scheduled. Leonard Nimoy was on hand, and gave those in attendance the thrill of a lifetime.


Published January 30, 2009

WORDSLINGER’S NOTE: This article was written in January uary of 2009, a few months before the release of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot that spring.  I made some predictions regarding William Shatner’s role in that film which I obviously got wrong … but I still stand behind my reasoning about why he should have.  Anyway, don’t let that deter you from checking out this very cool interview between Nimoy and Shatner.

Now that we are nearing the release date of J.J. Abrams much-anticipated reboot of Star Trek, I thought I would post something special for fans of the original series. I grew up watching this show (in syndication – I’m not that old), and must say that Captain Kirk was my boyhood hero.
Shatner and Nimoy
I was an equally big fan of the first six movies – and though William Shatner did appear in the seventh, Generations, his death was gimmicky and not handled well. Though both Abrams and The Shat have stated adamantly that he will NOT appear in the new movie, I still stand by a post I wrote months ago, about why and how he should.

Anyway, one of the more fascinating interviews I’ve seen regarding the two main stars of the original series, was conducted earlier this decade. Entitled Mind Meld – Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime, the 75-minute program features William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy interviewing each other. Die hard Trekkies have heard (memorized) many famous anecdotes from the making of the show and the movies, but Bill and Leonard dive much deeper here.

The show is broken up into sections which include:

The PhenomenonHow Star Trek meaningfully changed their careers, their very lives.
The Creative BattlesThe pressures of making a landmark weekly series. The challenges of bringing back Star Trek as a movie franchise.
The Original CrewRivalries, jealousies and conflicts between the original cast and creators.
The Personal ImpactPressures on their families and friends. Struggles with personal demons and addictions.
The Final FrontiersLives reviewed. Facing death. Remembering co-star DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) and the legacies both men hope to leave behind.

This discussion is often so open and revealing, one feels privileged to be able to share in this dialogue. At least I did. Shot literally in Nimoy’s backyard, it is also refreshing to hear these men (both 70 at the time) openly declare their BFF status.

Here you go – leave a comment when you’re done.


Published January 14, 2009

Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban, after months of declining health, has died in Los Angeles, California, of complications from advancing age. He was 88.
Ricardo Montalban
The much respected actor had a career spanning over sixty years. In addition to his many stage, television and film roles, he was probably most famous for three. In the late 1970s, he was the salsa-tongued spokesman for Chrysler Cordoba — although on an infamous appearance on David Letterman he outed his usage of the term “Corinthian leather” as completely made up … but it sounded cool. From 1977 to 1984 he played Mr. Roarke in the smash hit ABC-TV series Fantasy Island. Yet the role which brought him international fame, was the villainous Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek. The character first appeared in the 1967 episode of The Original Series, entitled Space Seed. He would later, of course, reprise the role in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Ricardo Montalban as Khan
Born in Mexico City in 1920, Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán Merino was soon to be entranced by American cinema. Arriving in Hollywood in the 1940s, he was asked repeatedly to change his name to Ricky Martin. Ricardo refused. Though many of his first roles had him playing various ethnic parts — Japanese, Indian, or as a Latin lover — in 1950, he was cast against type, playing a Cape Cod police officer in the film Mystery Street. For a two year run in the late 1950s, he starred (and sang) opposite Lena Horne in the Broadway musical Jamaica. As an MGM contract player, he worked opposite some of Hollywood’s most beautiful leading ladies: Esther Williams, Lana Turner, Kathryn Grayson, Loretta Young, June Allyson, January e Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse, Shelly Winters, Claire Trevor, Yvonne De Carlo, and Nina Foch.
Ricardo Montalban
But it wasn’t until the sixties and seventies when Ricardo’s star truly began to shine. Though his three (aforementioned) signature roles were all greatly parodied, all would agree that this was a thoughtful, charitable and deeply religious man. He was once quoted as saying that his lifelong devotion to Roman Catholicism was the “most important thing” in his life. If that is true, then the second was his wife of 63 years, actress Georgiana Young (half-sister of his previous co-star Loretta Young). The couple had four children.

Georgiana Young de Montalbán died on November 13, 2007, at the age of 84.

Ricardo has now joined her.

He will be greatly missed.


Outstanding fan video

And yes, contrary to bogus rumor, that IS his real chest!


Published January 5, 2009

J.J. Abrams reboot of the Star Trek franchise doesn’t open until May, but I was recently (this weekend) reminded of a time (30 years ago), when my fondest wish was to see my beloved Star Trek series on The Big Screen.

While tooling around on You Tube, I came across an episode of Tom Snyder’s The Tomorrow Show from 1976, where he interviewed DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig and Harlan Ellison. The series had been canceled after three seasons in 1969, we were still three years away from The Motion Picture, but with syndication ratings through the roof, the unexpected success of a new beast called a fan convention, and the christening of NASA’s first Space Shuttle as Enterprise, something big was brewing.

James “Scotty” Doohan seems to be the most prescient one interviewed, in that he sees what others did not: that Star Trek would soon spawn not just a feature film (which at the time was in pre-pre-pre-production), but an entirely new franchise. Scotty pegged that one. Oh, wait … Simon Pegg plays the new Scotty in the re-boot. Oooooooooooooh. Coincidence?

The rest of the interview is equally fascinating — this despite the absence of Shatner and Nimoy. Harlan Ellison, writer of the series’ finest hour, The City on the Edge of Forever, is as prickly and un-PC as you’d expect. I always enjoy listening to Harlan speak, but he needs to drop the whole Gene-ruined-my-script-spiel already. He’s been milking that for over 40 years now.

Here you go — feel free to smoke, everybody else here is. What a different time. Also, a couple of the vids below may be “slow-loaders” — you may want to briefly hit pause and let them buffer a bit.