Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Star Trek Report from Starlog #19

From issue #19 of Starlog magazine, published February of 1979, comes this edition of "Star Trek Report" by Susan Sackett. These monthly reports from Gene's secretary were a reliable and anticipated look at the progress of the movie.
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Update: Susan Sackett herself, who is a friend on my Facebook fan page, left these comments on the post over there: "Thanks for bringing back memories. Hard to believe they actually paid me to write this stuff! I think it was $300 per column, but I really don't remember, just that it wasn't a lot! Truth be told, it was really like trying to balance a ball on my nose for FOUR YEARS without dropping it! Finding things to write about and cheerlead for the "upcoming movie/TV series/whatever" month after month was a real challenge. Glad you enjoyed my little contribution!" Yes, we did, Susan. Thanks for the insight!

Bonus: below, from the same issue, a short news bit about the Yellowstone location shooting for the movie.

Also gleaned from the same issue comes this writeup on a Trek spoof by an Australian TV show. Although I never saw it, (with apologies to Mr. Hogan) it sounds about as dumb as a lot of the others done since then, a tradition that continues to this day... and they haven't improved much.

And below, finally, is a sad reminder of the time when I heard the news that talented Trek fan Mike McMaster had passed away.

For more material from this issue, go to my other blog "Fantastic Flashbacks" for a look at the painful collective memory known as "The Star Wars Holiday Special." Yes, Virginia, it does exist!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

1980 article: The Lost Designs of ST:TMP

From issue #32 of Starlog, published March 1980, comes this revealing article on the "Lost Designs of ST:TMP" featuring an interview with Andy Probert.

Probably the best photo you will ever see for the details on the filming model of the Vulcan shuttle "Surak."

Monday, May 17, 2010

1978 Interview with Nichelle Nichols

Back in the late 70's and early 80's there were a number of cheaply-produced magazines put out to capitalize on the sci-fi boom by one company, all with photo-montage covers or strange generic sci-fi paintings. They carried names like "Space Trek," "Space Wars Heroes, " "Weird," "Warp," etc., all put out by the infamous Myron Fass, known for his multitude of exploitational and trashy publications (read the whole sordid story here, a NSFW link). Sucker that I was for anything Trek-related, I bought some of them as well, and occasionally a recognized author like Allen Asherman would contribute, like in today's featured interview with Nichelle Nichols. This is from the first issue of "Space Trek" put out in winter of 1978.

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That's actually a nice photo below of Nichelle from "Plato's Stepchildren" that I had never seen anywhere before, so sometimes they printed something not seen absolutely everywhere else.

Bonus: Below, a nice big photo of Nichelle at her loveliest.

Below, another photo of Nichelle at her loveliest... wait, I said that already. Can't it be true again, though?

Nichelle has aged beautifully, as attested by the photo below.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

1978 article: The Making of ST Phase II

From Issue #12 of Starlog, published March of 1978, comes an interview with Gene Roddenberry on the progress of the then-planned TV series. The planning, designing and writing for the proposed series was finally moving along until it was scrapped in favor of a big budget movie, which had just happened after the interview but before press time. It's interesting to see the struggles they went through to get it going, and observing what would evolve into the movie, and beyond. Much of the stage was being set for what we saw in the movie at this point. Gene is to be commended for not simply throwing up his hands and walking off due to the frustrations and fights he was going through!
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Bonus: below, from the same issue, is Susan Sackett's report on the development of the series.

And below, also from the same issue of Starlog, is a report that looks at the development of the new Enterprise design. The inset box reveals the latest news that the series had been scrapped in favor of developing the two-part "In Thy Image" as a big-budget theatrical film, and as yet Nimoy was still not involved. Interesting stuff to look back on as history, or to remember if you haven't seen it in awhile.

As I read about Gene's struggle to make his vision and be in control of it, I get a little sad in retrospect how, after the movie came out with lukewarm reviews, they put someone else in charge of the next movie. Many see the second movie as the best of any of the movies, but we have to remember that the groundwork was laid and the path paved by Roddenberry, and others then built on that hard work. The Motion Picture may have lacked action, and the script may have needed more work before being pressed into production; but it was not a failure, and studios don't generally "throw good money after bad;" they only recognized that if another was to succeed, it would need to be more dynamic and exciting. Even during the series, Gene was a good producer, but not neccessarily a good writer. The studio felt that, next time, it needed more.

Monday, May 10, 2010

1976 Federation Trading Post Article

The fun stuff this time comes from the first issue of the short-lived, but memorable (and cumbersomely titled) "All About Star Trek Fan Clubs" magazine, published in December of 1976.
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I've posted an entry about this magazine before here, along with a cover gallery, so check that out too. The article I'm featuring this time is about the legendary (among Trek fans) specialty shop "Federation Trading Post," co-founded and operated in California by Charles Weiss and Ron Barlow, who was known to fans such as me from his work on the great newspaper "The Monster Times." The New York branch was manned by the also-legendary fan-turned-pro Doug Drexler. Although both were far from me (I had the "Starship Enterprises" stores in south Florida for my fan fixes), I was aware of them, and enjoyed reading about them in this in-depth article. Please contribute any memories or facts you may have in the comments section!

Poor "Fake Balok" only wishes the article writer had spelled his name right.

All I'm doing here is posting a magazine article from the past about it, but Doug Drexler himself is the one with the real treasures. To hear all about it from the source, read his blog entry with loads of info and awesome photos from the FTP East!

Update: Doug commented this on my Facebook post about the article: "Frederick! I'm astonished whenever I visit your site. It's like my ultimate 1976 magazine stand exploded! This article is amazing. That's back when Paramount couldn't care less about Trek. Creative and industrious fans kept it growing. Thanks for posting this!" -Doug Drexler

One of the things highlighted in the article is the hunger fans had for accurate replicas of the show's props, at a price affordable by most. We have a good number of that kind of thing today, with very nice prop replicas that have lights and sound, for a reasonable price, off the store shelves. But back then it was a dream, and only those fans with a good job or generous parents could get their hands on these kinds of things. For myself, I had the kid-sized "Exploration Set" model kit, and the water-gun phaser, and that was it until only a few years back when I bought the Playmates version of the "big three." Fans with more money than I can get the Diamond Select replicas, lucky people! But the fact is, having accurate and life-sized replicas are within the reach of the average fan now, and we are fortunate for that.

Friday, May 7, 2010

1974 "Movie Monsters" Trek article

From the December 1974 first issue of "Movie Monsters" comes an eight-page article on Trek. (You can see the magazine cover here, since I have featured the monster articles in it on another of my blogs.) The article is memorable to me mostly from the negative reaction I had to it; I hated it! The strange treatment of the photos accompanying it (except for the first one of the ship), and the somewhat derogatory review of the show really ticked me off when I read it. How dare anyone criticize the show? Reading it now, I have mellowed somewhat and I realize it was not as bad as it seemed at the time; but it was the first time I had read an article that was written in anything other than glowing terms, (notwithstanding this one, which was only an published reader letter)and I wasn't ready for it. I know now that the show was not quite perfect, only nearly so. :) Many of the claims are unfounded or just plain in error; but the one thing that rankled me most was that the writer blamed the third season decline on Roddenberry, when he wasn't even producing the show any more; Fred Frieberger was the one to blame for dragging a beautiful show through the mud of mediocrity. But, it seemed that the author was not aware of this.

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I wasn't the only one angered by the writeup; a few issues later they printed a story that was more positive in direct response to all the irate letters from the fans! Read it here, from an earlier post. Fan power!

Bonus: Below is another from the set of Random House greeting cards put out in 1976. (See all that I have posted by clicking the "greeting card" tag on the right.) The inside text consists of one word: "COURAGE!"

Bonus #2: Below are the front and back covers to the next James Blish adaptation, Star Trek 10. This was a first printing, published in Feb. 1974. I bought this in 1975 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL when I was 16. I still recall the excitement when I saw it in the high school bookstore where I bought it with my lunch money. It has a nice (and unusual for the Blish books) painting of the Enterprise blasting a Klingon Battlecruiser. The artist gave us some great detail, even adding extremely large rivets on the metal of the ship, as if it had been put together by NY bridgeworkers in the 1920's. I mean seriously, they had to have been as large as dinner plates to be visible at that range! Otherwise it's quite accurate.

"Break out the diving suits and the jackhammers!"