Saturday, February 28, 2015

RIP, Leonard Nimoy: So many talents—but Spock's #1

FInal Vegas Khhaaan Trek convention appearance, August 2011

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

De-Day 2015: I'm an actor, not a doctor! OR a cowboy.

If it's January 20, it must be my annual, personal tribute —as it has since this blog began—to my guy, Jackson DeForest Kelley, who would have been 95 today. Wow.

Don't need to say much more than what I've said in past years... aside from the groundswell of Kelley fandom that seems to be shaping up everywhere (perhaps, not coincidentally, since THIS first happened).

In any case, I'll just drop this year's edition here. You're welcome.

De with Susan Hayward, getting out of the haybarns and hitchin' posts for once, co-starring with her and Bette Davis in 1966's Where Love Has Gone (and thanks, once again, Sue Keenan):

Monday, January 19, 2015

Yes, MLK saved Uhura—and she brought diversity to NASA's real space faces

Dot-connecting time to Star Trek, on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 

Yes, MLK "saved" Uhura, via Nichelle Nichols' famous tale—but that in turn allowed, and led directly 10 years later, to her incredible NASA outreach mission and some of our most iconic faces in space, giving us the diverse shuttle corps we came to know—and some real-life IDIC in action.

In Star Trek's own way....THANKS one more time, Dr. King.

Nichelle Nichols On Gene Roddenberry
And Dr. King's Fateful Advice
"… As a result of Nichelle Nichols’ efforts of space exploration evangelism work over the last four months of 1977, NASA received 8,400 applications, 1,649 from women and nearly 1,000 from minorities. 
Here is the NASA leader who is responsible for inspiring the recruitment of Sally K. Ride, the first American woman in space, Judith A. Resnik, the second U.S. female astronaut and first Jewish-American in space, Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut (in TNG role with Nichelle, above), Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian-American in space and the first African-African American male astronauts, Guion Bluford and Ronald McNair.
Nichols' charismatic recruitment method increased the number of applications from women sixteenfold, and from people of color thirtyfold."

One more for Voyager's 20th birthday: It's a SIGN!

Seen across the street from Paramount on a cloudy January day—exactly 20 years ago this week:

A goofy promo theme, and symptomatic of what would dog the two UPN shows as "marketing" for their entire lives.... as many of you will recall.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

20 years ago: When EXACTLY did Voyager premiere?

VGR Premiere Program
Well, that 's a misleading headline—of course, for most of the world, we all know that Voyager premiered with its pilot "Caretaker" on Monday, Jan. 16, 1995—as the ballyhooed flagship of the newly birthed United Paramount Network. As such, for the first time since the original series, as a "network show" its airdate would be on a uniform date and time, unlike the scattered "week of" airdates of syndicated TNG and DS9. (Mostly).

But six days earlier, Jan. 10, saw a special studio premiere at the on-lot Paramount Theater, complete with some press and a celebrity guest to kick off not only the first network Star Trek since TOS, but the first to be led by a woman.

In special remarks beforehand, co-creators Rick Berman, Michael Piller (at left) and Jeri Taylor all spoke about their feelings on the occasion of this newest Trek, as did star Kate Mulgrew—who then introduced an equally historic figure from the real space universe—Dr. Sally Ride, America's first female astronaut, who had flown twice on the shuttle during the 1980s, and who since has sadly passed away of pancreatic cancer far too soon, in 2012.

As a symbol of bonding between historic women of the real and fictional universe, Kate presented her that night with an actual Voyager combadge, making her an official member of Voyager's crew and with the hardware so that Ride could "beam up to the ship any time" she wished. We carried the event in Communicator #100.

And with those words, after a small press posing event, the Paramount Theater darkened while cast, crew, studio honchos, guest and press all saw "Caretaker" for the first time. Pilots and premiere episodes always hold such promise and hope, unaware how succeeding seasons just might unspool, or for how long... but everyone that night was a-marvel at, truth be told, how it was seemingly the best Star Trek pilot yet for character conflict, potential drama, scope and visual effects.

Reverse of VGR premiere program
On a personal note, we had barely been in L.A. for five months, and the prospect of present for a front-row seat to watch a new Trek series launch was exhilarating with its fresh-faced, fandom-naive cast (well, all but for boyhood Trek fan Tim Russ, who knew best of all exactly what he was getting into.) Thus you can imagine my chagrin when all my photography—taken on 35mm Kodachrome slides in the pre-digital age—was mostly ruined thanks to a new Burbank neighborhood photo lab that used old chemicals, and threw off the color of almost all my photos taken that night. (The top two are among the rare pics salvaged). I never did THAT again—but I've been heartbroken ever since that I did not have my shots to archive, from an event not exactly as mangy with photogs as you'd expect.

Along with those, enjoy the premiere program card I scanned here—and no, those are not printed signatures, and no, it is not going in the Trekland Trunk any time soon!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Admiral on the bridge!: TNG's Clyde 'Nakamura' Kusatsu

It's amazing the number of creative folks—chiefly actors, but also writers, producers, designers, and crew—who can call themselves part of the Trek family...or Treklanders, as we call them around these parts.

As every year passes, I try to make it a point to meet and hopefully interview many of them, especially the recurring guest stars whose faces are a tad more familiar. That said, I am still struck by how many of even they we have yet to see at some of the larger conventions—I'm lookin' at you, Creation Vegas!

...Such as Clyde Kusatsu, whose long career has included several stints as the first real "recurring admiral" on TNG, a spot in its finale, and a bit of distinction vis a vis none other than Jean-Luc Picard—as we discuss, amid tales from his other work of note, in this vidchat from a recent Courts Signing Show in Burbank.

I mean, he was a finalist for WHAT on Deep Space Nine? And in a sitcom pilot with Brent and WHO?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

STV: Meet Star Trek's '60s-style poster artist, Juan Ortiz

This one has been in the can for a while, but hey—people still love Juan Ortiz' funky
60's-style Star Trek poster looks, and very few folks have got to meet this incredible artist who's started a mini-franchise all his own with these iconic, widely-diverse graphics: posters for all 80 original Trek episodes, and now the animated series, too, on everything from T-shirts to trading cards.

CBS helped collect them all into a "coffee table" style book, STAR TREK: The Art of Juan Ortiz —it still makes a great self-gift if you didn't get enough Trek in your stocking!—and during the 2013 holiday season sponsored a gala signing event for author and book, opening a gallery show of the posters at the West Coast venue of the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. The event was reported, but here's how it looked and sounded, along with Juan and his fans:

Single episode posters (and in the U.K. too) and spin-off goodies like shot glasses, and trading cards from Rittenhouse Archives, are available, too.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

STV: Watch Gerald Fried play his OWN '60s Trek music

A little Trekland gift for all Trekfans everywhere... and one that is long overdue: 

This, posted at last, is the HD video I shot of what can only be called an amazing night in Star Trek history—shot off guard, from my seat, on hand-held zoom, on Dec. 3, 2012. It was already an electric evening at Hollywood's Egyptian Theater—the ballyhooed launch party for LaLa Land Records' incredible 15-disc original Star Trek complete soundtrack box set, a landmark moment for Trek and true film audiophiles everywhere. Friends Jeff Bond and Neil S. Bulk, among others, had all labored with love over it. And I have more vidchats from that night to share as well.

But the breathless moment of the evening was its climax, when an audience sat spellbound and delighted as TOS composer Gerald Fried, then 82, not only presented a duet medley of themes from his three classic scores for "The Paradise Syndrome,"  "Amok Time" and "Shore Leave"—but took to the oboe to play them himself, with piano. 

It was simply 9 minutes of music intersecting history for a result I'd never experienced before, much less in Trek—and with no other apparent video cameras around, I'm just glad to have been able to capture it and share it now. The audio alone would be one thing—and those audience recordings are out there, I believe—but this decidedly unfancy video still adds the visual joy and drama as well...including the audience's delighted reaction to you-know-what from that Vulcan episode, and their 45 seconds of final applause.

Maddeningly, I ran out of chipspace just before the piece ended, but was covered by my iPhone mic—so I hope you enjoy what I edited together here, with sounds and sights alike: