Saturday, December 13, 2014

L.A. ALERT! This Sunday—it's another chance to see 'The Green Girl' at NoHo's Valley FIlm Fest



For any Treklanders, TV Golden Age buffs and women-in-media advocates around SoCal who still have not seen it, the Susan Oliver bio-documentary The Green Girl will have a big-screen showing at noon this Sunday, Dec. 14, at the Laemmle NoHo Theater, 5240 Lankershim Blvd., 91601, as part of the 14th Annual Valley Film Festival.(Tickets at that link).

My buddy George Pappy Jr. will introduce his film, all about the actress who played Vina in "The Cage" and so much more: from Hollywood's go-to girl on camera to bumping up against the glass ceiling in film, speed racing and flying. I was fortunate to be a part of the many who recount, along with numerous and wittily-used clips, the rise, incredible diversity and the sad final years of this amazing pioneer.

Meanwhile, thanks to the attention that The Green Girl has focused on Susan's life and body of work, George shared news on Facebook that the actress was just honored with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award by the Women's International Film and Television Showcase (left).

Susan's niece Timi attended to accept the award, and at the same event editor Amy Glickman Brown was also honored for her excellent work on The Green Girl.

Again, I'm very proud to have been one of many George asked to be a part of this film, and I will be there as well Sunday for the post-screening Q&A panel.

Friday, December 12, 2014

TWENTY years ago? A pitch you can't 'Prophecy'


Well, THIS is a moment locked in time for me...and it was exactly 20 years ago today that we rehearsed for it:


This sale memo, from Voyager's Jeri Taylor and signed under fellow exec producer Michael PIller's
reply, was about our pitch called "Reflections," or "Descendants," or "Alliances Undone," or "Birds of a Feather"... whatever... that SOLD... then got bumped for 4 years, sank into the unused "sold" pile, but then finally got plucked out to produce (with update) seven years later as "Prophecy."

It's been an anniversary memory for me all week, exactly (gulkp) two decades ago: The TNG Companion was two years old, our new home home in L.A./Burbank was into its fifth month, Janet's six-week Voyager temp job had just been made permanent, and the extended contact from all our new opportunities had won us an invitation to pitch stories.

Yes, Dec. 12  was the night we rehearsed our 3 or 4 pitches with script coordinator and buddy/boss Lolita Fatjo at Micelli's in Hollywood, and got her notes; the very next day, we met with Jeri in her Hart Building office to try them all for real. And it was all, of course, still six weeks or so until the world at large would even see Voyager and meet its denizens on TV.

I had heard all the TNG writers tell of their own pitch experiences—of the nerves and mistakes in both their own as writers, and of the hopefuls they heard ideas from—and thus Lolita's gentle reminder that "no one sells on their first pitch" had been well taken.

Which, of course, was all the more weird when we DID do just that—and with the one idea, of course, we thought the least of: our "token 'Klingon in the Delta Quadrant' story, to mess with B'Elanna's Klingon half" idea. Thank you, Jeri—and thank you for being gentle with the rookies. And you too, Michael, wherever you are—bedecked in Dodger blue, I'm sure).

It was hardly the last time we pitched to either show—back in the day of Michael's revolutionary but time-consuming open-door policy for non-agented writers and spec scripts—but it was the only time we ever sold. Of course. (The old maxim about "you never get to do the teleplay for your first story sale," however, came perfectly true.) I even found out later we weren't even the first ones to pitch a "Klingon generational ship" story for Voyager.

March 1995: A "bottle show" no longer...
We used to tell the full story at convention talks—the prep and pitch, the writer meetings, the directed enlarging and then shrinking of the bottle story scope as the show and staff evolved, its disappearance and then final-season resurrection—as a snapshot of the outside-writer process, and how wacky a "textbook case" of off-staff TV selling and writing can actually be, and over several years. I've told parts of the saga on a couple of podcast interviews, but any of you new fans want us to pipe up about it for a current con, just let me know. (For the right rum mixture, I'll even share all the better concepts we pitched on either "middle show" that didn't sell.)

But for young Okie kids getting a tad later start in the biz than usual, it was three fast days in a week I'll always remember.









Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Bye Bye Robot 'Voyager' art: it's my bud, at last


It's taken 20-some years, but I finally feel I've done right by one of my oldest friends—or at least that's me personal reaction to Friday's news announcement at startrek.com of a new five-piece, four-artist original print offering from Bye Bye Robot.

Actually, here's the full frame:

I met art studio Bye Bye Robot founders Charity and Chris Wood in 2010, before they were BBR, and was happy to help how I could as they worked to get their official CBS license for Star Trek fine art prints and graphics in 2012. 

But even further back: Many of you know my logos for Trekland, The Con of Wrath, the Trekland Trunk, and most of all Mystar Media; some of you even remember the incredible black-and-white line art in my old, original annual "TNG" concordances.  THAT was all my bud Kevin Hopkins—met up the first week of sophomore college year as I hosted aTrek/sci-fi club organizer, then oft-roomates and mutual best men… and, since my days with pro Star Trek, my perennial candidate for breaking in to the licensed art world. 

Like many others whose Trek work you've seen before, he has a great style that includes portraits, heroic fantasy, and photorealistic biology/botany—in both "analog" pigment and now digitally.


Charity tells me she's excited for this set, each one repping a different series, and to work with two new artists among the four—Thomas Ziffer, who's been involved with the gallery, as well as Kevin.

"Kevin has been on our radar for a long time," Charity says, when I asked her for some thoughts for TREKLAND. "I first met him while he was accompanying Larry at the Dallas Comic Con, back in 2010. We chatted about his penchant for fossil digs, and then I found out about his art career and talent. Well, it took us nearly four years to capture one of his paintings, but we’ve finally done it. Now (besides more awesome artwork) all that’s left is to weasel my way onto one of his paleontological digs so I can fulfill my dream of finding my very own fossilized megalodon tooth!"

My getting Kevin and Charity introduced was a happy serendipity that finally led to this "official Trek" opportunity: but instead of Kevin's faces of actors, it's ships—as in, the fourth print just released by BBR and their first-ever Voyager subject. Take a close gander, up top—and I'm proud to say I lent a couple eyeballs and notes for it, too. 

"Being able to work on this Voyager poster project and doing the art for "The Long Way Home"  is a very special thing for me because it lets me give back a little bit to an idea and a an ongoing project that has given me so much," Kevin says. "And doing an officially licensed piece of Star Trek related art (for Bye Bye Robot) is a special milestone in my career."

Kevin reminded me that he grew up in an even more rural area of Oklahoma than I did, where the sparse TV offerings like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Lost in Space, and "the annual Saturday afternoon showing of This Island Earth " was enough to tease but not satisfy the sci-fi craving they awakened. 

"There was a bookmobile that stopped in the community sporadically, and one summer I managed to read the entire science and science fiction sections that it contained," he says. "I would save up for visits to larger towns where I could find cheap science fiction paperbacks.  Still, the scifi sections were small in even the best of book stores.  I still remember the first year that science fiction novels outsold westerns nationally."

And that was about the time Star Trek hit, Kevin recalls: "The first season of the original airing was like a breath of fresh air for me—it supplied something that my mind was aching for; it allowed me to see that world as something larger and more diverse than the little town where I lived. My affinity for Star Trek continues on through the present; it has brought me friends, experiences and life lessons I would never have encountered otherwise, and I am very grateful for them all."

And me…I'm just grateful to have finally helped play a part in getting that talent out to the "official" Star Trek world. Yay, Charity… and yay, Kevin.













Sunday, December 7, 2014

STV: Ensign Williams logs in from 'Red Shirt Diaries' !


Finally… on the last day of their Indiegogo…I finally get this posted. Good thing it's not as if they needed my help! 

Meet Ashley V. Robinson and Jason Inman, whose Red Shirt Diaries web series is the slyest, most inventive little take on what NCC-1701 lower-decks life for redshirts 'n' redskirts might have been like…and now an Internet cult hit, to boot. It's all in bite-sized, three-minute weekly "log entries" from Ensign Williams of security, her friends—and, yes, her famous superiors. Organized, of course, by historical records otherwise known as the first 10 outings of Star Trek—original series style.

Are YOU hooked yet? It's so simple—and yet more addicting than a cordrazine slush.
If you're a noob, give a look here on their YouTube channel at the 10 episodes up so far—the TOS classics in aired order, through "Corbomite Maneuver"…told of course, through the long-suffering yet surviving ensign's oddly eventful personal logs, right from her simple quarters on Deck 8.  


Want to see more? Today is the last day of their very modest campaign and they've met two stretch goals already—including a bonus show and location shooting! So, you can still help them out with their drive for RSD's "Season 2", which would get the enterprising duo (and more) through the remaining 16 episodes of TOS' Season 1…and maybe even to Vulcan and plak tow...

Give a listen and find out all the backstage secrets, the genesis, what lies ahead for as we present this first of a four-part visit with Ashley and Jason RIGHT ON THE SET (ie, their living room)—and even a surprise visit from Gertrude/Beauregard. 
 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

STV: It's FarragutFest! Celebrate with two REAL and local crew of the Farragut & Enterprise


If it's the first weekend of December, it must be FARRAGUT FEST down in Kingsland, GA, home to the Farragut Studios that boasts the rebuild of Desilu's storied Stage 9...i.e., the original Star Trek sets of the 1960s whose amazing recreations are used here now for both the Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues indie fan film series, of which I've come to be quite familiar.

If you are lucky enough to be in the region—I hope to go one year, but families already come from several states away to get to walk those hallowed corridors in these incredible lookalikes—I hope you tell Royal Weaver and Sam Rooks hi, if you meet them (video below the fold). Those two, and many more, are part of the local crew who build and maintain those stages year-round in-between times the rest of us are away.  In between the tours, panels and even vendors of FarragutFest, they are among the many who can tell you all the history and backstage detail you'd ever want to know.

And that's why I took time during the "Mirror" shoot for STC's "Fairest of Them All" last spring—our own chat cut short by the needs of the shoot, as you'll see—to get both of these guys on camera and get them their due. The photo (left) just happens to be them atop and steadying a ladder to be able to run the Tantalus Field cover during that filming.

Also during shoots, Sam spends a lot of time with lights, while Royal is everyone's number one door man—and I don't mean the taxi-hailing kind, I mean the sliding Starfleet kind. It's a special art, as anyone who's seen the original bloopers knows all too well!

So—in honor of another FarragutFest this weekend, here's my chat with the locals, to celebrate! If you can't be there, try for 2015—I know I will—and meanwhile check out the Farragut Films Facebook page where I'm sure there'll be pics a-plenty. Go "Like" their page—and of course, go "Like" the Star Trek Continues page as well— if somehow *gasp* you haven't already!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

LA ALERT: Armin's back in 'Discord' through Dec. 21


If you missed our own Armin "Quark" Shimerman in the new play last spring about three historical bigwigs who edited their own Bibles finding themselves trapped in a limbo together across time and space in a battle of wits and whys… here's your chance to see the show on a bigger stage, even more refined.

Yes, the same cast—which also include onetime Trek guest star Larry Cedar as Thomas Jefferson, to Armin's Count Tolstoy and David Melville's Charles Dickens—gets an up-tweak now at the Geffen Theatre in a run that's already won rave reviews around town and a one-month extension to boot. It plays weeknights at 8 p.m. through Dec. 21 except for Mondays, with double showtimes on weekends: 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Check out the play website and remaining tickets for Geffen’s Audrey Skirball Theatre at 10886 Le Conte, or call 310-208-5454.


For more on "Discord" itself, written by Real Time With Bill Maher exec producer Scott Carter, there's always our prior Trekland post here ... as well as our backstage, post-play chat with Armin about the play's themes and playing Tolstoy within it.  Ignore the detail s of that small-theatre run; stick with the play's core and Armin's basic thoughts about it—and Tolstoy.  You'll notice that this upgraded production has given Armin's Tolstoy a much more sophisticated makeup and costume (seen in photo at left):

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cyber Monday? Two quick gift ideas from Trekland!


Well, in the spirit of the day—a quick suggestion and a reminder this holiday season:

If you need stocking stuffers, or easy gifts for the workplace, schoolplace, churchplace or distant relatives... and don't mind taking a charitable tax deduction... why not get your friends and family likewise inspired into the future—and signed aboard the First Enterprise In Space?

I'm talking about offering "gift seats" as virtual crewmembers about "Enterprise in Space," the NSS Enterprise orbiter non-profit mission with student projects and aerospace demonstrators that will launch in 2019, sponsored by the National Space Society and with an incredible team in charge I'm pleased to be part of.

It's the same simple set-up as always: As with any donor of our only grassroots request (you can give more, of course, as your passion demands it!), each "crewmember" has their name added to a chip that will join the payload and be recovered—proving all those "aboard" were aboard the first really spaceborne Enterprise.

Yes, there's a gift certificate option you can download after your simple $20 donation (or more)—plus your loved one is set up to get all updates and special news over the four-year life of the mission til launch, and then after re-entry and recovery for display and touring, to boot!

Then, too: As a 501c(3) non-profit… if you need to do good works AND reduce your taxes, you can also park your giving with EIS as well by Dec. 31, or April 15. OR... even have us as your sci-fi convention or other event's beneficiary "charity," if you need one that looks futureward.

Of course, for variety, far be it for me not to also toss in a reminder about those REMASTERED archival interview Trekland CDs of mine, recorded during finales of TNG 1994 and DS9 1999—Vol. 2 and 3 (at left) still available in hard-shell and ready for an autograph if you want it, now with a 2-fer price!  I'm also happy to personalize to whatever giftee name you'd like, if you just include the info on the order form.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

50 years ago, "The Cage" first flew—in Culver City


NOW we're talking history: 50 years ago, Nov. 27 was a Friday—and the crazy giant-killers at Desilu led by creator-producer Gene Roddenberry, line producer-in-deed Bob Justman, director Robert Butler and even studio guy Herb Solow started filming on a little thing called "The Cage," the Pike-led first pilot of Star Trek.

I'm been both gratified and amused to see the online-o-sphere finally start talking about this as the "actual" 50th anniversary ahead of the storied 9/8/66—anniversaries have a funny way of causing page-clicks  .... after I've been mentioning it here in passing, as a caveattime and again for years.  And years. (Of course, Gene's pitch memo was actually dated from March...)


One of my recently discovered fans, Dwayne A. Day, just did an excellent reflection on Star Trek's power to move us then —and not so much now—based on what "The Cage" and classic Star Trek meant in its time, to its times.

And *I* just did a new cover story piece to connect some recently pondered new dots about making 'The Cage" in the Titan official Star Trek Magazine (at left) —you can get it on newsstands or subscribing online or postally now.

So. I'll let the big time celebrating commence elsewhere, across the interwebs. For here, I'll just trot out a little reminder that not only was "The Cage" (and the second ppilot too) filmed not at Desilu-Gower (later Paramount)... but at Desilu-CULVER, in the studio that was home under various banners to Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, Mayberry and Hogan's Heroes: today known as The Culver City Studios—going strong with a new owner, but not open to the public.

So I'll just mark "The Cage" today with my quick mini-tour of what you can acutally see of Trek's true filmage roots today: the fence along Ince Avenue, the studio's northeast perimeter where a small memorial has been created to honor all the lot's owners... including Lucy and Desi, and her little space show that went so far: