TV Guide Notes
November 4-10, 1989
Sci-Fi Rides High: Paramount's Star Trek: The Next Generation remains No. 1 among hour-long syndicated shows. At $1.4 million a week, it also leads in cost-per-episode-equal to the most expensive current network offerings. But with 235 stations aboard, Trek boasts a 10.8 rating and a third-place ranking overall, easily beating Superboy (4.0 in 173 markets), War of the Worlds (also 4.0) and Friday the 13th (3.9).
Culled from the article Syndies: What's Hot, What's Not:
1. Wheel of Fortune (13.0 230 stations)
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation (10.8 235 stations)
4. The Oprah Winfrey Show (9.1)
5. A Current Affair (8.2 184 stations)
7. Entertainment Tonight (7.6 163 stations)
Chip `n Dale's Rescue Rangers (4.8)
Duck Tales (4.2)
21. Inside Edition (4.1)
23. Hard Copy (4.0)
Superboy (4.0 173 stations)
War of the Worlds (4.0)
Friday the 13th (3.9)
Super Mario Brothers (3.0)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2.8)
USA Today on TV (2.8)
The Joan Rivers Show (2.6 148 stations)
American Gladiators (2.5)
Crimewatch Tonight (2.1)
The Judge (2.0)
Divorce Court (1.8)
Trial By Jury (1.6)
March 3-9, 1990
Cheers To Patrick Stewart, who plays Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation. The British-born Stewart's command of the Starship Enterprise is surpassed only by his mellifluous command of the mother tongue - thanks to his training as a Shakespearean actor. He fills predecessor William Shatner's shoes with his convincing portrayal of a leader who's both authoritative and empathetic.
June 16-23, 1990
Beam up the Emmys
Paramount Network Television, which creates Star Trek: The Next Generation, along with the producers of the syndicated show have set their phasers on stun: they are waging an aggressive campaign to secure Emmy nominations for the popular cult series. Beginning this month (and extending through July), ads and promotional spots will appear in the media touting the show. In addition, reruns of its best episodes will be shown. Last year Star Trek: The Next Generation was nominated for eight Emmys - but all in technical categories - and that, says Rick Berman, has everyone burning hotter than a warp-drive engine. "In some demographic groups, this is the number three or four show," says Berman. "Few people would argue that actor Patrick Stewart is one of the best actors on television. And we are hoping through promotion to garner the recognition that we deserve."
Star Trek: The Next Generation concludes its third season in syndicated space with a dandy cliffhanger: the Enterprise is engaged in battle with a seemingly invincible foe.
Riker (Jonathan Frakes) faces two tough foes in this season-ending cliffhanger.
For starters, there's Lt. Cmdr. Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy), Riker has been offered command of the starship Melbourne, but he's "comfortable" as second-in-command on the Enterprise, and is reluctant to leave. The ambitious Shelby, who is on the Enterprise to probe the disappearance of the colony on Jouret Four, intends to push him out.
First, though, they both must contend with the Borg, a ruthless race of cyborgs that is probably behind the colony's disappearance. The Federation has never been able to stop the Borg, and this time is no exception: when the Borg ship materializes it traps the Enterprise and inflicts heavy damage to its hull. As the Enterprise limps away to hide in a solar nebula, 11 crew members are dead. Another eight are missing.
July 7-13, 1990
Culled from the article The Best and Worst - by the numbers
Syndicated Series through 5/20/90
1. Wheel of Fortune (14.3 average rating)
2. Jeopardy! (12.6)
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation (9.9)
4. The Cosby Show (9.4)
5. The Oprah Winfrey Show (9.3)
6. A Current Affair (8.6)
Wheel of Fortune (weekend version)
8. Entertainment Tonight (8.4)
9. Donahue (6.4)
10. Geraldo (5.8)
11. Star Search (5.7)
September 22-28, 1990
Star Trek: The Next Generation warps into a new season with the Enterprise locked in battle against the invincible Borg under the command of the former Jean-Luc Picard.
The syndicated series returns with a resolution of last season's cliffhanger. With Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) transformed into a half-Borg named Locutus, Riker (Jonathan Frakes) prepares the Enterprise to join Starfleet in a defense of Earth. The Borg, however, have used Picard to learn of Federation defenses, and before the Enterprise arrives they lay waste to the Starfleet armada. With Earth defenseless, Riker relies on a talk with Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) to devise a tactic that can destroy the Borg-but might also destroy Picard. Shelby: Elizabeth Dennehy. Data: Brent Spiner.
October 6-12, 1990
Grapevine: Spiner taps the past
Brent Spiner, who plays android Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, explores new frontiers this week on the "Brothers" episode of the syndicated show. In the segment, Spiner plays three characters: besides Data, he'll portray Data's evil twin, Lore, plus Noonian Soong, the man who created both androids. Spiner discloses that to play the evil twin, "My initial impulse was to call upon the anger I once had toward my older brother, Ron." Spiner stresses, "We've become very close," but, in the past, he says, there were typical sibling squabbles - and a little more. He'll never never forget the time "Ron had me convinced we'd had a middle brother he'd done away with. I was about 5 and Ron was about 7. My mother had just pulled out of the driveway to go somewhere, and he was telling me this story - with butcher knife in hand - about this older brother in a cave somewhere with a knife in his back. I swear my mother heard me screaming 10 miles away in her car."
November 3-9, 1990
Plus: Trek warps past original
Wil Wheaton is leaving the show, and Leonard Nimoy may make a guest appearance. That's the news from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which surpasses the original with its 80th episode this week-one more than the 79 shot for the original Star Trek.
"We've discussed with Leonard Nimoy the possibility of his appearing on the show. But no plans have been made," says Rick Berman, executive producer of the syndicated series.
Berman says two ideas for using Spock were drawn up some time ago. "One was to have him come back as a man 80 years older, which wouldn't be a problem because Vulcans age slower. The other was a story that dealt with a unique form of time travel. That would have presented Spock at his own age." The latter sounds more likely, since in an episode last season, Sarek, Spock's 202-year-old dad, paid a visit to the Enterprise and seemed to suggest his son had died.
The departure of Wheaton, who plays Ensign Wesley Crusher, is still top secret but should take place within a handful of episodes. The actor, best known for his part in the film "Stand By Me," has a number of other projects to pursue, including another TV series for Paramount, which produces Star Trek.
Meanwhile, the series will go ahead with storylines that feature Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) waking up to discover that 16 years have gone by and that he's now the captain of the Enterprise-but he can't remember how he got there; Councilor[sic] Troi (Marina Sirtis, who is gifted with empathetic abilities) finding herself empathetically blind; and Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) being badly hurt in a shuttlecraft accident and left stranded on a deserted island.
For the 80th episode itself (appropriately titled "Legacy"), the crew of the Enterprise face a distinctly 20th-century challenge: gang warfare. When two crew members are taken hostage, the Enterprise is forced into a rescue attempt with one of two gangs that run a space colony.
-Stephen Galloway, Geofftey A. Hamell
As Star Trek: The Next Generation presents its 80th episode (one more than its NBC predecessor logged), the Enterprise crew is involved in a rescue mission at a lawless planet that was the birthplace of their late comrade, Tasha Yar.
January 19-25, 1991
Grapevine: Woman of Letters
The departure of Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) from Star Trek: The Next Generation last November has prompted a flood of letters to Gates McFadden who plays Wes's mother, Dr. Beverly Crusher, on the syndicated series. "I'm getting all these letters from teenage girls who adore him and want to know: `What [is your character] going to do without him?,'" says McFadden. If Beverly were to respond, she jokes, she might say, "Well, now I don't have to wash his clothes, I can date like crazy . . . maybe have time for a little sex." McFadden also gets her share of teenage fan mail. "They look at my character as a role model," she says. Some write to say they wish she were their mother. But McFadden is also reaching an older crowd. A doctor getting ready to start her own practice considers Dr. Crusher so inspirational she wrote and said "she wanted my picture in the office." McFadden also receives correspondence from convicts. "I get letters asking, `Please send me a picture, but not the one of you in your uniform-do you have any 8x10s of you in your panties?'"
June 15-21, 1991
Grapevine: The guest stars are with them
Star Trek: The Next Generation certainly seems to be the "in" show to guest-star on these days. The syndicated series featured Mick Fleetwood, Jean Simmons, Dwight Schultz and Bebe Neuwirth last season, and co-executive producer Rick Berman already has a list of interested candidates for next season, including: Rosanna Arquette, Bruce Davison, Roger Rees and Sean Young - who would also like to write an episode.
A recurring character will also be introduced on the June 17 cliffhanger. Insiders say it could be Denise Crosby, who portrayed Tasha Yar during the show's first season. Berman reports that all of the current cast members will be back next season - including Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg.
This Week On TV: Golf's U.S. Open and a "Star Trek" cliffhanger
Meanwhile, on local stations around the country, the Klingons are teeing off on each other as Star Trek: The Next Generation heads into its season-ending cliffhanger. A civil war is brewing and that leaves poor Worf (Michael Dorn), the lone Klingon on the Enterprise, with a bad case of divided loyalties. Is his primary allegiance to his people or the Federation? Trekkies will find out in the fall.
July 6-12, 1991
The Best And Worst
Most Improved Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation (syndicated). State-of-the-art sci-fi.
July 13-19, 1991
Insider Cheers `N' Jeers
Jeers To Star Trek: The Next Generation for beaming down a decidedly lackluster 100th episode. Now before you get out your phasers, Trek fans, you should know we're high on this series (we even called it the Most Improved in our Best and Worst issue last week). That means we also hold it to higher-than-usual standards. Unfortunately, the eagerly awaited 100th turned out to be a talky, complicated and unsuspenseful cliffhanger about how Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) resigns his commission to fight in a Klingon civil war. This is one war we'd rather sit out. Let's hope Trek gets back on track next season with more shows about life aboard the Enterprise - and fewer side trips.
August 17-23, 1991 (Canadian edition)
Brent Spiner - The Man Inside The Machine
Brent Spiner brings a distinctly human element to the android Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The yellow contact lenses are in. It's a Thursday morning at Paramount Studios in L.A., and Brent Spiner has started the ritualistic countdown to becoming Lieut. Commander Data on Star Trek: TNG. Ol' Yellow eyes. Next will come more than an hour in a chair having yellowish-gold makeup applied to his face and neck, to turn Spiner into the luminous android Data. "It's a doubled edged sword," Spiner says of the makeup routine he goes through every day he works. "It took about a year to get used to the contacts - for a long time it felt like I had Elvira's fingernails in my eyes. And it's a complete drag to sit in makeup for 75 minutes every morning." Then Spiner pauses, grins and points out a benefit actors kill for. "On the other hand, when you're in a scene with seven other cast members viewers' eyes do tend to focus on the one who glows."
That happens to be true, even if Spiner has some fun with the way he describes it. Much of what Brent Spiner says is true. Some isn't. Some is somewhere in between. Think of it this way: He does not remotely suffer from an iron deficiency. Look for his tongue - it'll be frequently planted in his cheek. Check out what's happening behind those yellow contacts - there's a good chance it's carefully disguised mischief. "Boy, have I looked like a jerk in print from those tendencies," Spiner says. "Not to mention what I really what I really mean. One gentleman of the press asked me, `Don't you feel you owe the Trekkies your presence at there conventions?' I said what I believe, which is that I think what I owe Trekkies and any other viewers is the best performance I can possibly give. So it comes out that I've announced out of the blue that I owe Trekkies nothing. Hmmmmm."
No one connected with `The Next Generation', which starts its fifth season next month, can say for certain, but it's quite possible that Spiner gets more mail than any other cast member, and not just because he sometimes comes off in print as an ingrate. Data touches people in ways that the human characters don't. Executive producer Rick Berman says, "From the start, Data has been one of the most popular characters - if not the most popular. I think a lot of it has to do with Data being the barometer of the human condition. He illuminates human emotions by aspiring to them."
"I think Data is the most clearly evolved character," Spiner says. "When this series started - when I thought, `Oh, sure, we'll do a pilot and that'll be it' - what appealed to me most about Data was that if this show could get a foothold, Data had the most growth potential. In the very first episode [Encounter at Farpoint], Riker [Cmdr. William Riker, played by Jonathan Frakes] calls Data `Pinocchio' - in reference, of course, to this thing that wants to be human. And the challenge to me and the writers, I think, at that moment was to begin this journey toward Data striving for humanity, little by little."
There's no mistaking that Data is a machine: "The producers wanted makeup of some kind in the first place to deaden his facial expressions." Spiner adds, ironically, "Hey, I could have played expressionless without any help.' Still, "Data's more `human' now than he started out as. Everything he experiences becomes a part of his programming, so human behavior becomes a part of his programming. He's constantly observing, adding this, adding that. His movements have therefore become more fluid over the years. `Ah, this is what you do in a positive situation - the corners of your mouth go up and and your eyes light up a bit.' The progress continues. The longer we go, the closer Data will become to being human without being human."
The writers have also given the actor chances to indulge his talents for comedy and mimicry. "Data likes to try on the clothes of other aspects of humanity. I've done Sherlock Holmes, Henry V, Friar Tuck, Scrooge. In one episode last year, I played the perfect mate, programming myself with all of the cliches and attributes of what Data would think would be the perfect male partner for a woman." Spiner adds drolly: "Actually, Data could do very well at pickup bars."
By all accounts, The `Next Generation' sets are a bundle of improvisational comedy. "Everybody in the cast gets involved," Spiner says. "There are many rich hilarious moments."
Mind you, It's not entirely fun and games. "The only parts of it that aren't fun are the makeup routine and - in direct contrast to what most actors tell you - learning the lines. That's usually the easy part, but the dialogue from Data has to flow; I don't have the luxury of being able to pause and look for the next line. And the dialogue usually consists of things that have never come out of my mouth in real life, so it isn't easy." Spiner thinks for a moment, grabs the interviewer's tape recorder and deadpans, "But I am not complaining, Star Trek fans; I am absolutely not complaining!"
August 24-30, 1991
TV News Update: Spock beams aboard TNG
In a casting coup that should send millions of Trekkers into orbit, Star Trek: The Next Generation has signed Leonard Nimoy-who starred as Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek-to reprise his role in a two-part episode set for the November sweeps.
According to Rick Berman, executive producer of the top-rated syndicated series, "Leonard's episodes are purposely going to make reference to events that the Star Trek audience will see in the movie `Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.' Like the appearance of Michael Dorn [TNG's Worf, who will play his own ancestor in "VI"], this is an attempt to link the last film with the characters in The Next Generation."
And last it is-at least according to Paramount Picture, which claims "VI" (scheduled for release on Dec. 13) will mark the final appearance of the original crew, which includes Spock and Capt. Kirk (William Shatner). Plot for the two-parter: an undercover Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) will go in search of Spock, who has mysteriously disappeared from the planet Vulcan and is reportedly making an unauthorized visit to the Romulan home world. Also making an appearance is Spock's father, Sarek, played by Trek veteran Mark Lenard.
"This is a story," Berman promises, "that will have major intergalactic consequences." (And probably a few on the home front, too, since it's been rumored that Paramount is quietly making plans to move the Next Generation cast into features.) Audiences shouldn't assume the pointy-eared alien will return as a member of the Geritol set. "We've previously established that Vulcans live a long time," Berman says. "Spock is probably 130 years old-but he'll still look pretty much like Leonard Nimoy."
September 7-13, 1991
Insider Cheers `N' Jeers
Cheers To another of those casting coups we just can't seem to resist. Leonard Nimoy, the Vulcan Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series (and the soon-to-be six theatrical movies it inspired) has agreed to appear - as Spock - in a two-part episode of syndication's Star Trek: The Next Generation this November. Don't be surprised if the ratings go through the roof - and all the way to Janus VI.
September 21-27, 1991
TV News Update: It's Kirk over Picard
Phasers on stun! The former captain of the starship Enterprise has beaten his successor-decisively. In TV Guide's special Star Trek issue (Aug. 31), we asked: which one-James T. Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard-would you entrust with saving the Earth from hostile forces threatening it with extinction? An astronomical number of you-31,491-responded to out 1-900 phone-in poll, and 60% voted for Kirk; only 40% for Picard.
What made the difference? A Bronx reader offers a clue: Kirk is "brash but he is also compassionate and he would not kill unnecessarily."
However, a fan from Massachusetts, who likes both men, gives the edge to Picard because, unlike Kirk, "Picard opts to delegate his authority rather than handle each situation himself."
November 9-15, 1991
Grapevine: Nimoy gets royal treatment
Leonard Nimoy got the red-carpet treatment when he guested as Mr. Spock on a special two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (Nov. 4 and 11). That's the word from Brent Spiner. who plays Lt. Comdr. Data on the syndicated series. Normally, says Spiner, "We have a raucous set. We all regard the bridge of the ship as one big nightclub and do a long improv that goes on all day - only to be interrupted by having to do scenes from the show. But we were on our best behaviour when Leonard was on the set. It was kind of like we were working with a visiting dignitary." Spiner (whose character is known for spouting scientific jargon, as is Mr. Spock) says the first thing Nimoy asked him was, "`How do you remember these lines?' Leonard told me that by the third year of the original Star Trek, he was losing brain cells. I said, `I had the advantage of starting this series with no brain cells to begin with'."
TV News Update: Trekker titan's tributes planned
A pair of dedications to the late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry will soon be beamed onto both the small and silver screens. "We are planning something that is going to be at the head of a two-parter called `Unification'," says Rick Berman, executive producer of the syndicated TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episodes, scheduled for telecast during the weeks of Nov. 4 and 11 (exact dates vary around the country), will feature original Trekster Leonard Nimoy, making his first appearance on the show.
"Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" will be lifting off in theaters in December. "The dedication will be brief, a few lines, but I think it will say something about his vision," says producer Steven-Charles Jaffe. "[Roddenberry] was happily able to see the movie [just before his death], and he and his wife were very pleased with it. I can't say how much that meant to us."
December 7-13, 1991
Grapevine: Star Trek, the next, next generation?
The crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation might be heading for the big screen by 1994. The team is under contract for the series through the `92-93 season, reports Michael Dorn, who plays Lt. Worf on the syndicated show and Lt. Worf's great-grandfather on the recently released "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." When the contracts expire, he says, "Paramount will decide either to stop making the show and just do the movie, or they'll have a new Generation crew come in and take over the series."
December 21-27, 1991
TV News Update: Rumors of new `Trek' travel at warp speed
You don't need an official Enterprise Communicator to pick up the buzz about future "Star Trek" plans-both big screen and small.
Within the "Trek" inner circle, the success of the current "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" has prompted discussions about yet another sequel. And reports in trade papers are suggesting that a second TV spinoff is also under consideration.
"I discussed [making another movie] with William Shatner at a recent lunch," said the star's manager, Larry Thompson. "I think he's very receptive." "Undiscovered Country" has been promoted as the absolute last feature with the original crew. But with box office for the film booming-a record-breaking $18 million earned in its first weekend alone-the likelihood of a return engagement of some kind by Capt. Kirk (Shatner) and his crew seems inevitable.
Trekkers, those devoted fans who often know more about the best-guarded plans before they're officially announced, are already hearing word about the new TV series. "I've definitely heard that Paramount is considering some sort of spinoff," says Dan Madsen, president of Star Trek: The Official Fan Club.
Word is that the upcoming series would be a prequel, portraying incidents before the 23rd Century Star Date of the original series. No one is saying yet whether the new series would be another live-action series or an animated children's program. Rick Berman, executive producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, declined to comment.
February 1-7, 1992
The Collins Report: A new Trekkie fears warp factor
Kurses to Klingons! Fie on Ferengi! Like a shot out of deep space, it hit me one Sunday at midnight while I absorbed in Star Trek: The Next Generation-I had fallen into the Trekkie trap.
"We manage to suck you all in sooner or later," said a gleeful Rick Berman, executive producer of Next Generation, when I confessed my come-lately addiction. He even promised a new spinoff of the spinoff (Deep Space Nine, a wilder, woollier Trek set in a galaxy frontier) that might serve to aggravate my Trek yen.
What did this mean, to be a tyro Trekkie? Wearing rubber pointy ears? Holding splayed fingers upright in a Vulcan salute? Haunting Star Trek conventions? For 25 years, I had been immune to endless reruns of the old series, the movies and the Next Generation. But suddenly, I was falling under the spell.
Get sucked into L.A. Law and you're not guilty of being a "Lawzie." Belly up to Cheers, you don't become a "Cheerie." But once enamored of anything Star Trek-ian and there's a label for you: Trekkie (read: nerd squared).
"Quite often, fans of Star Trek get a bad rap," admits Tom Johnson, a 26-year-old Trekkie from Colorado who's seen every episode of the old TV series, every episode of the new TV series and every movie in the "Star Trek" sextet. "A lot of people view them as drooling lunatics who go berserk at the mention Star Trek."
If a cult, Trekkie fandom may be TV's largest and most loyal. Last year alone, "Star Trek: The Official Fan Club," the only such club sanctioned by Paramount, registered 10,000 new members, who forked over $11.95 a year to join. The entrepreneurial Trekkies who run the club employ 10 full-time staffers and work out of 4500 square feet of office space in Aurora, Colo.
As such an organization may suggest, though, the backbone of the Trekkie phenom is not a network of space-debris collecting kooks. In fact, in talking to Trekkies, you find there is an attitude-warp between the faithful followers and the "radical fringe."
"There are really fanatical fans," says John Davis, vice-president of the club. "A minority group almost believes in the reality of Star Trek. If you want to buy some models and T-shirts, that's fine. But Star Trek reaches diversity, and sometimes the hard core tends to forget the concept of diversity."
For Johnson, the best kind of buff to fall into the Trekkie trap is a "thinking" person moved by the gentle, futuristic allegory.
"There are a lot of very normal people who are fans," he says reassuringly. My preconceptions about the typical Trekkie may need correcting. You can still be a fan and never don pointy rubber ears or flash a Vulcan handsign.
The typical Trekkie, says Davis, is "very thoughtful and very optimistic. They believe in the future." I can live with that. Live long and prosper, in fact.
July 20-26, 1992
Culled from the article The Best and Worst - by the numbers
1. Wheel of Fortune (13.9)
2. Jeopardy! (12.0)
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation (11.8)
4. The Oprah Winfrey (10.8)
5. Entertainment Tonight (8.6)
6. A Current Affair (8.0)
7. Married...with Children (7.6)
8. The Cosby Show (7.5)
9. Donahue (6.9)
10. Inside Edition (6.5)
Note: Through 5/17/92. Wrestling telecasts are not included.
December 12, 1992
ASK TV GUIDE
Q I just bought an album, "Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back," with Brent Spiner, Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation. His backup singers, The Sunspots, sound familiar. Who are they? -A.M., Bridgeport, Conn.
A The same guys who back him up every week-The Sunspots are, in reality, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn, Spiner's crooning colleagues from the Starship Enterprise.
January 2, 1993
A DEEP SPACE DIARY
Picard Ponders Star Trek's Next Step
By Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
Captain's log, stardate 46385.1
The Enterprise has arrived at Station Deep Space Nine in orbit of the Planet Bajor. Our mission is to coordinate relief efforts following the withdrawal of Cardassian occupational forces that have ruled Bajor for decades.
I am shocked by the conditions that have greeted us. Bajor has been robbed of every valuable resource. Our relief efforts are barely adequate. The space station, originally built by the Cardassians as a transport site for their Bajoran mining operation, is in ruin.
A Starfleet detachment, under the leadership of Commander Benjamin Sisko, is due shortly to take command of the station. He will be assisted by Chief Miles O'Brien, a valued member of my crew who has accepted a transfer and a promotion to Chief Operations Officer of Deep Space Nine.
I am concerned, frankly, about the choice of Sisko to head this team. Although he has served with honor during his Starfleet career, he has turned down several other assignments in recent years and only reluctantly accepted this posting. He is raising a son alone and apparently objects to the environment. I can sympathize with his concerns, but as Starfleet officers, we do not always have the luxury of serving in an ideal environment.
Chief O'Brien and the Bajoran liaison officer, Major Kira Nerys, have been working 26 hours a day to get essential systems functioning on the station. Kira is a former Bajoran freedom-fighter who is not happy that the Federation has been invited here by her government. I've been told Commander Sisko requested that a Bajoran national be assigned as his first officer. But now that I've met the young woman, I predict that she will pose significant problems to his command.
There are continuing incidents of break-ins and robberies on the station's promenade, but I have been impressed with the efficient response of the Chief of Security, an alien shape-shifter whose name is Odo. According to Odo, much of the looting can be traced to a Ferengi named Quark who runs the gambling facility on the station and has a hand in virtually every illegal activity in the system.
Starfleet has assigned two other senior officers to assist Commander Sisko. His Chief Medical Officer will be Dr. Julian Bashir, who is on his first assignment since graduating second in his class from Starfleet Medical. Arriving with Bashir will be the Chief Science Officer, Jadzia Dax, from the joined species known as the Trill. The symbiont life form that lives within this female humanoid is almost 300 years old and has lived in six previous host bodies, both male and female.
The challenges that face Commander Sisko are enormous. It will take a man of extraordinary power and commitment to succeed here. Unfortunately, there are rumors that Sisko is considering resigning from Starfleet.
Is he the man for this job? I will have to reserve judgement.
Computer, end log entry.
This Captain's log was transmitted to TV Guide from Deep Space Nine creators and executive producers Rick Berman and Michael Piller.
February 20, 1993
Grapevine: Close Encounters
"Trekkers have been waiting for this for years," says Michael Dorn, a.k.a. Lt. Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation. "This" is the first Klingon kiss, which occurs in the episode airing the week of March 1. In the second half of a two-parter titled "Birthright," Worf falls for a Klingon teen (Jennifer Gatti), only to discover during a romantic interlude that she's actually half Romulan (a Klingon no-no). The resulting plot crisis was almost as angst-ridden as the shooting of the big smooch. "Jennifer and I analyzed it to death," says Dorn. "How exactly would Klingons kiss? Would it be tentative? Akward? Sweet? Sexy? After a week of that, we finally said, `Hell, let's just film the thing and hope our false teeth don't hook together.'"
February 27, 1993
Grapevine: What I Watch
Patrick Stewart, Star Trek: The Next Generation
What do you watch? The one show I try not to miss is Cheers. It's the wittiest show I've ever seen, and Ted Danson is the most delightful leading man since Cary Grant.
Where do you watch? I have a little TV in the kitchen that I move around the house with me. After I make my solitary, lonely supper at the end of a day's work, I carry that TV into the living room and settle down for my dose of Cheers.
What else do you watch? I have seen American Gladiators. It's like a show in England called It's A Knockout, which pits the citizens of two towns in a series of bizarre and grotesque events. It always seemed to me that you could add a certain element of tension to these shows just by adding trap doors that would collapse beneath contestants while shark-infested pools or pits of snakes waited below. I think that could do wonders for the ratings.
-Interviewed by Gregg Stebben
March 13, 1993
Update: A Trekker's Guide to the Galaxy
It had to happen. The vast and varied universe of Star Trek and its spinoffs has expanded again. Beginning March 8, "Inside Trek," a syndicated, weekly newspaper column, will add to the TV series, the six movies, the more than 100 novels, the 500 fanzines, and the 3000 Trekker conventions a year, all inspired by the original TV show. The column will feature interviews with the stars, trivia (Q: What do the letters IDIC stand for? A: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), plus plotlines of current episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. So far several newspapers have committed to the column, which is produced by the New York Times Syndicate. The Times, however, will not carry it.
March 13, 1993
Letters: Beam her up, Captain
Patrick Stewart, my darling, I can't bear to think of you eating your "solitary, lonely supper" all by yourself while you watch Cheers ["What I Watch," Feb. 27]! By coincidence, it happens to be my favorite show as well (besides yours, of course). So dry your tears and just say when, and I'll be right over to cook for you so we can watch Cheers together.
New York, N.Y.
April 17, 1993
Culled from the article TV Guide Presents 40 Years of the Best
Dramatic Actor: `80s - Patrick Stewart
Lots of competition here: we applaud Daniel J. Travanti's steely captain in Hill Street Blues and William Daniel's crusty heart surgeon on St. Elsewhere. But we simply feel that Stewart's work on Star Trek: The Next Generation took a dubious notion-a Star Trek retread-and made it fly. He gave his role unexpected humanity, gravity, and literate grace. His formidable screen presence raises others to his level.
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: `80s - Star Trek: The Next Generation
TNG succeeds in ways that the original never did, or could. And while it retains Trek's story-telling style, it expands on it both technically and imaginatively. In this future, aliens and Earthlings mix more freely, even aboard the Enterprise. Its endless creations-the charming, omnipotent "Q"; the fearsome Borg collective; the enigmatic Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg)-keep it fresh week after week. We're glad this starship is on a "continuing" mission.
May 8, 1993
Soaps: Swamp Thing
Since vacating his Clay Alden role on Loving a year and a half ago, James Horan has made a killing on the episodic circuit: lately he's guested on The Commish, Highlander, Dark Justice, and Zorro. And this week he makes a little history. On the "Suspicions" episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Horan will introduce a species never before seen on a Trek series-a Takaran, an iquana-like creature with green hair and a blue stripe down his forehead who can alter his body chemistry to make himself appear dead. Leading lady Gates McFadden (Crusher) has warned Horan that he'll forever be a smash hit at Trek conventions. But after his daily three-hour makeup job, the actor felt anything but unique. Noting that TNG shoots on the Paramount lot on Hollywood's Melrose Avenue-stomping grounds of the punk-rock trendoids-Horan says: "If I'd gone up the street on my lunch break to buy a hot dog, no one would have noticed."
May 29, 1993
The Best and Worst According to Nielsen
1. Wheel of Fortune 13.9
2. Star Trek: TNG* 13.4
3. Jeopardy! 12.1
4. Star Trek: DS9* 11.7
5. The Oprah Winfrey Show 10.4
6. Entertainment Tonight* 8.8
7. Married...with Children* 8.6
8. Wheel of Fortune-weekend 7.7
9. A Current Affair* 7.6
10. Inside Edition 7.5
(*-includes multiple telecasts)
June 19, 1993
The All-Time Best TV
Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show %
*Star Trek 28
The Twilight Zone 24
The Six Million Dollar Man 16
Star Trek: The Next Generation 9
Mork & Mindy 9
Dr. Who 3
*James Garner 29
Richard Chamberlain 17
Raymond Burr 13
Patrick Stewart 8
David Janssen 7
Peter Falk 6
Edward Asner 4
Daniel J. Travanti 3
E.G. Marshall 2
Lee J. Cobb 1
*-TV Guide's selection
June 19, 1993
Star Trek: The Next Generation (CC)
Sun. 11 PM
Fri. 9 PM
The Borg are back: Those implacable enemies of the Federation return for the season-ending cliffhanger. Responding to a Federation-outpost distress call, the Enterprise Away Team finds little damage to the station, but many dead bodies. And an old foe. No longer slow automatons, the Borg (one of them is pictured) have become, Riker (Jonathan Frakes) says, "Fast, aggressive ... more like Klingons." Data (Brent Spiner), too, experiences a change. First he feels anger, then he confesses to having another emotion after killing a Borg ... pleasure. Physicist Stephen Hawking has a cameo. Newton: John Neville. Einstein: Jim Norton. (1:00)
Physicist Stephen Hawking has a cameo as Star Trek: The Next Generation warps out of its sixth season by bringing back those galactic bad boys, the Borg. See Close-up on p. 85.
July 24, 1993
TV Guide Interview: Rick Berman
Trekking Into the Future
Deep thoughts on `Deep Space Nine' and `Next Generation' from the brain behind the `Star Trek' universe
By Michael Logan
"Star Trek: The Next Generation"-the most successful first-run drama series in the history of television syndication-will purposely photon-torpedo itself after the 1993-94 season so that Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and crew can trek on to the big screen, leaving the show's gritty, edgy spinoff, "Deep Space Nine," to satisfy the appetites of TV Trekkers. Once again, just as so often in the past, this unprecedented, billion-dollar entertainment phenomenon-credited in the mid-1960s by a former Pan Am pilot named Gene Roddenberry-is at a crossroads. And standing dead center is Rick Berman, a former Paramount Television VP who co-created "DS9" with Michael Piller, and who serves, along with Piller, as executive producer of both series. Berman learned the Trek business at Roddenberry's feet, and, upon the 1991 death of the maestro, he inherited the key to the store and to the future. But he most assuredly is not The Man Who Would Be Gene.
TV Guide: With the ratings for Next Generation higher than ever before and the demographics of its audience an advertiser's dream, it seems suicidal to cancel the series. What gives?
Rick Berman: That's a decision by Paramount. The studio wants to begin the feature film work, and the feeling seems to be that seven years is enough. The actors had six-year contracts. Paramount has successfully renegotiated with all of them to return for the seventh season.
TVG: Have the Next Generation cast actually signed contracts for the film?
RB: Patrick Stewart is set. Negotiations have begun with a number of other actors. The motion-picture people are doing that all at their own pace.
TVG: How would you assess the first season of Deep Space Nine?
RB: I'm very pleased with it. The first year was a shakedown cruise, which is always a little uncomfortable, but the character evolution and the relationship between the characters are everything I'd hoped they'd be. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. The funny thing was, when we were trying to cast the show, some of the actors weren't dying to do it. Unlike other new shows, where there's one chance in 20 of survival, a six-year contract with a Trek series is a virtual fact. The first year, everybody was a little bit thrown off, but now that they've had a break, they're raring to get back in bed with their roles. And they're all gonna have bigger trailers.
TVG: You've gone on record saying the press misrepresented your intentions for Deep Space Nine.
RB: It might have been our fault, but the word "dark" got misconstrued. People started saying it was going to be a "dark" show, and we never intended it to be that. Now that we've completed 20 episodes, the viewers can see that for themselves.
TVG: Still, you seem to have ruffled the feathers of more than a few Trekkers by suggesting Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future was too perfect.
RB: We were never asked to explain Deep Space Nine-we were always asked to explain the difference between it and the first two Trek series.
TVG: Why no end-of-the-season cliffhanger for Deep Space Nine?
RB: We were certainly open to one, but one never came up, and we didn't want a cliffhanger just for the sake of having one.
TVG: But aren't you potentially missing a beat? After all, Deep Space could use the buzz.
RB: We raised that concern, but there are certain stories that can be expanded to two hours and others that can't.
TVG: Stephen Hawking the renowned physicist, turned up in the finale of Next Generation. Are there any other famous fans dying to make guest appearances?
RB: Frank Langella has a major role in the Deep Space Nine three-part season premiere. He never does episodic TV, but he's doing this for his kid. As for Next Generation, Jason Alexander, Dana Carvey, and Christopher Lloyd have all expressed interest. I just had lunch with James Worthy of the L.A. Lakers, who wants to be a Klingon. We're trying to work something out with Robin Williams, but we want to give him a substantial part, not a cameo. Lyle Lovett is also an obsessive fan, and we're in discussions with his people now. He would be a natural for an alien.
TVG: Would there be a part for the new Mrs. Lovett, Julia Roberts?
RB: Sure. We're always open to alien-human romance.
TVG: Is there any truth to the wide-spread rumors that a Deep Space Nine cast member-one who has not lived up to expectations-will be written out during the coming season?
RB: Totally untrue.
TVG: How would you assess Avery Brooks' performance as Sisko?
RB: I'm very pleased. After we cast Avery in the role, he brought a whole different element to the character than we had expected-just as Patrick Stewart brought a whole different element to [our conception of] Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. Like all of our actors, Avery has grown into the character and the character has grown into him. Over the course of the season, he has become much more comfortable in that role.
TVG: Explain what you feel he brings to the role. What do you see in him that you like?
RB: Well, I don't know it that's a fair question [in response] to what I'm saying. Avery has worked for nine months bringing himself into the role of Sisko. [Now] we write the character slightly differently. You do that as the course of the season goes on. Avery has a certain stature, a certain power, an inner self. There's mystery to the character, and a tremendous amount of strength. And his fellow actors worship him. He's been picked up for a full second season.
TVG: Word is, the Promenade-originally intended as a sort of Dodge City street filled with intergalactic traders and travellers-will have a new look.
RB: It's been too sterile. Rather than a stop at a distant space station, it seems more like a fashionable mall inhabited by well-dressed people on a shopping spree. So next season we're making it a lot funkier and busier. We're budgeted for a lot more extras and we'll give it more of a feeling of sailors in a port. We're dressing the set with outdoor vendors and lots of banners and signs. It'll happen over the first four or five episodes so it doesn't hit the audience over the head.
TVG: Demographically, both series are tops with male viewers. Will you attempt to broaden the female audience?
RB: I can tell you with great joy that neither Michael Piller nor I have ever had anyone at Paramount talk to us about demographics other than to tell us how great we're doing. We've never gone after the young audience, or women, or blacks-though it's been suggested that we're trying to build up the black demographic by casting Avery Brooks.
TVG: But this is a business. If there is a larger audience out there, how can you not be tempted to go after it?
RB: Well, perhaps we'd have an even larger audience if we started writing the show to attract specific kinds of viewers, but it would make us crazy. Besides, if you alter your show to reach a specific group, how would you know it won't effect the audience you already have? The insurance, beer, and car advertisers want male demographics, and they're very happy with our show the way it is.
TVG: Clearly, Trekkers love seeing the Classic Cast mix it up with the characters from Next Generation, yet thus far you've only written Bones (DeForest Kelley), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Scotty (James Doohan). Why haven't you resurrected the rest of the originals?
RB: I'm a great champion of believability, especially when your concept-people who travel around in spaceships and find strange aliens with funny faces who just happen to speak fluent English-comes close to being silly just by its nature. Next Generation is set 80-some years after the original Trek. We try to stay away from time-travel stories and, thus, there are just so many ways you can bring back people who are either already dead or remarkably old. As a Vulcan, Spock can live a long time. Scotty hasn't aged a minute because he's been locked in suspended animation. And Bones was very, very old. As for the others, it could happen. We're always open to it, but it's a question of how believable the premise.
TVG: Are there crossover plans for the casts of the two current series?
RB: My guess is that next year, when Next Generation goes off the air, we'll have an opportunity for a whole bunch of stars to do that. Q (John DeLancie) came to Deep Space Nine last season, and we plan to keep the character alive. Lwaxana (Majel Barrett) will be seen on both series next season. I think we'll also have some Deep Space people crossing over to Next Generation.
TVG: What happened to the announced plans for Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan) to pop up on Deep Space Nine?
RB: She has told me that she'd be happy to do Deep Space, but we're gonna wait and see. One of the problems with Whoopi is her schedule. The bigger a star she gets, the harder it is for her to find time to come on our show. We can't just say, `Oh, Whoopi's available in two weeks, let's just slap her into a script.' We need to develop a story in which her character is an integral part. But she is coming back to Next Generation for what will be her sixth season-and we have one story that has to do with one of Guinan's children, which could work equally well on either series.
TVG: Why do you avoid nearly all public appearances?
RB: Right after Gene Roddenberry died, I was asked to take his place as the final speaker at a big Star Trek convention in Los Angeles. A year later, I again spoke at the same convention-and those are the only public appearances I've made. I have tried my best to stay away from them because it's not my job. My job is to turn out pieces of television that are though-provoking, intelligent, entertaining, and on budget. Gene was elevated from television writer to a highly esteemed place in the hearts of millions, and that esteem has not changed. Yes, in certain ways he passed the baton to me, but I'm not comfortable with the honors that come with that baton. I don't think it's appropriate for me to step into his shoes and be beatified.
TVG: Yet the loyal Trekkers seem to need you as their leader.
RB: There's something about all the glory people want to heap upon you that's a little spooky. At one time, there was even a story making the rounds that I was dead. I have no malice toward these people. Those that I've actually met are big-hearted and seem to be terrific. I guess it has to do with keeping everything in perspective. I want to produce a television show, not a mythological icon.
July 24, 1993
Star Trek: The Next Season
The season finale for Star Trek: The Next Generation left fans in a frenzy: Data (Brent Spiner) had joined forces with his evil twin, Lore, and announced plans to destroy both his own shipmates and the entire Federation. In next season's premiere (airing in September), Lore will be revealed as a David Koresh-like prophet who has promised to rid the evil Borg (who are part biological, part mechanical) of their remaining vestiges of flesh.
"In the fifth season," says Berman, "the Starfleet officers found a young Borg (Jonathan Del Arco) and gave him a name-Hugh-and a sense of self-identity. When they sent him back, they knew he would probably be reprogrammed into an automaton, but there was hope that maybe something would spread into the Borg collective. In the premiere, we'll learn that something did." Hugh will make a return appearance, says Berman, and the eventual downfall of Lore will leave dozens of Borg on a deserted planet. How they evolve will be revealed in a subsequent episode.
Meanwhile, returning to Deep Space Nine in a three-part season opener, are Philip Anglim and Louside Fletcher, as Vedek Bareil and Vedek Winn, the Bajoran religious leaders who squared off in an evolution-vs.-creation debate in DS9's season finale. The plot: While on a liberation mission to a Cardassian prison camp, Maj. Kira (Nana Visitor) finds a Bajoran MIA whose presumed death had blossomed into some very inaccurate mythology. The truth will lead to major strife on Bajor.
Star Trek: The Next Movie
The next "Trek" movie is shrouded in customary secrecy, but one thing is certain: It won't be called "Star Trek VII."
"That would imply it's a continuation of the first six, which, in a sense, it is not," say Rick Berman. "Right now we're calling it `Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Movie,' but that's strictly for the people in payroll." Berman, will executive-produce the film, has actually written two story outlines and hired separate teams of screenwriters (all Next Generation alumni) to develop them. Whichever script Paramount green-lights will go before the cameras in April `94 and arrive in theaters by the following Christmas. "And if both scripts work out well," says Berman, "we've got fodder for the eighth movie."
Though each film will include original Trek players, Berman says one script involves "the entire group in both a prologue and other elements of the film." The other has roles for only some of the vets, including William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. One features a major role for Whoopi Goldberg. Thus far, however, everything's on a handshake.
"I've spoken to Bill, Leonard, and Whoopi, and they're all enthusiastic, but we must wait until a script is done and approved," notes Berman, who says it's possible that Nimoy will also direct.
Though mum about the two plots, Berman hints that, in his opinion, "Star Trek IV" (with its save-the-whales message) was "the simplest and best of the series" and that Paramount was "very insistent the next film be as substantial and thought-provoking."
July 31, 1993
Interview: Patrick Stewart
On Picard, indecent proposals, and the perfect cup of tea
By David Rensin
Almost seven years ago, when Patrick Stewart was auditioning for "Star Trek: The Next Generation," it took three readings before he realized he was trying out for the role of Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the starship Enterprise. Today, it's impossible to imagine anyone else in the command chair. But unlike his swashbuckling predecessor; William "James T. Kirk" Shatner; Stewart, 53, has managed to avoid being overly identified with his "Trek" persona. A veteran of films ("L.A. Story," "Dune") and public television ("I, Claudius," "Tinker, Tailor, Solder; Spy"), he has also starred on Broadway in his own one-man show, an adaption of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in which he portrayed 35 characters. These days, in addition to his captain's duties, he narrates documentaries, make commercials, and remains an associate artist with Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company. As a follow-up to our special science-fiction issue last week, TV Guide sat down with Stewart while "The Next Generation" geared up for its seventh-and possibly final-season.
TV Guide: It's been a year since TV Guide named you "the most bodacious man on TV." How has your self-image changed since then?
Patrick Stewart: For a while I was in total denial of this event, falling back on the persona of a deeply embarrassed Englishman. But as time went by, I began to confess, first to myself and then to others, that I enjoyed it very much. I feel a little-and it's only just occurred to me this moment-bit or what it must be like to be a Miss World or Miss Universe. And it happening my 52nd year was a unexpected as it could possibly be.
TVG: Has there been any increase in indecent proposals?
PS: That remains at a fairly consistent level. Something funny happened when I was speaking at a convention in Phoenix. This young man stood up, and he said, "Mr. Stewart, please, will you marry my mother?" An attractive-looking woman sitting beside him bent forward and put her head into her hands.
TVG: How has playing Captain Picard changed you?
PS: He's made me a little more thoughtful. A little less impulsive. I hope, more patient. I was very short on patience and tolerance once.
TVG: In fact, didn't you once walk off the set of Good Morning America?
PS: Yes. They were broadcasting from the Next Generation set and the weatherman was dressed in a Star Fleet uniform. I thought it was demeaning to the show. I know I sound pompous, and I don't give a damn. Nevertheless, I should not have done what I did. I regret it.
TVG: Picard is known for his diplomatic men.
PS: I'm at my least diplomatic when there's a lack of respect. And I'm not speaking only of me, but when I see anyone or any group of people being treated disrespectfully. That's when I'm inclined to lose it.
TVG: You've said that you had a violent childhood. How violent? In what ways?
PS: Life was scary when I was growing up. I wasn't beaten, but there was violence in the house. My father would get very angry. He would lose control. [Pauses.] But recently, I came across a photograph. I'm sitting on a beach, in a deck chair, and my father is tickling me. And I am squirming with laughter. I must have been about 6 years old. If anybody would have asked me, "Did your father ever make you laugh?" I'd have said, absolutely not. He made me feel a lot of things, but he never made me laugh. And yet there it was. And I looked at the photograph and I could remember it. I knew what his fingers felt like in my ribs. I'd forgotten that my father made me laugh. And that's as important a memory to record as that he occasionally lost control of himself.
TVG: Some might say that your transition from the Royal Shakespeare Company to a TV starship was equally surprising. What did your colleagues in the RSC think of your going into space?
PS: My closet friends were delighted and astonished, perhaps a little envious. Later, one of the nicest things to happen was meeting Terry Hands, who was artistic director of the RSC, in New York City, where he confessed to having been a fan of the original series and now of what I was doing. Nothing could have been more satisfying.
TVG: Were you a fan of the original Star Trek?
PS: I only saw it on occasion, with my children, as they were growing up. It used to air in England on Saturday afternoons, and when I was working for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, I could get home between a matinee and an evening show and have tea with my family. Sometimes that meant watching whatever was on TV with my children, and very often it would be Star Trek. I don't think I ever saw a complete episode, probably because I had to drive back to the theater for the evening show. But I remember thinking that it was interesting and odd and out of the ordinary.
TVG: How did you get the call to audition for the part of Picard?
PS: I was assisting a friend, a professor at UCLA, in a public lecture one night by reading extracts to illustrate his lecture. Robert Justman, who was one of the show's producers, was in the audience. He claims he turned to his wife and said, "We've found our captain." I met [Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry two days later. I had no formal auditions, then followed by, to my astonishment, a third, when I was told, "It's down to you and a couple of others."
TVG: Long after Roddenberry's death, his positive, humanist vision has lived long and prospered. Yet, some dismiss Star Trek as escapist entertainment. Is it?
PS: It's only dismissed by people who don't watch it. Even though it's full of fun, high adventure, dazzling technology, and all kinds of creatures, it's a very serious show, and that's the way serious things should be presented. Shakespeare wrote entertainment, but clearly his plays could be very serious, too. We're conscious that some people think of us as "that syndicated kids' show," and as far as a large part of the TV industry is concerned, we are. Otherwise, how can you explain the total absence of Emmy nominations, for directing, writing, and acting? Oh, I was angry for a while. I wondered: Are we so bad? Are we getting it wrong? Are our numbers somehow totally misleading as to the quality of the work? I watch the show and I think it's very good. In fact, it's as good as anything I've ever been around in my life as an actor. So how do we explain this? It's interesting that on the first "American Television Awards" show we "got" a nomination-from reviewers and critics. But never from the industry, unless it's a technical nomination for special effects or makeup-which are highly deserved. It's somehow a curse to be too popular.
TVG: What do the English know about good TV that Americans don't?
PS: People who watch television seriously say how fabulous British television is and has always been, but it's changing, increasingly playing down to lower tastes and a popular market. One thing I admire about Star Trek is that it never underestimates the intelligence of its audience. It does the opposite, and it very often says, "This is difficult, this is complicated. Follow it if you can. If you can't, you'll catch up with us in time." If you treat people as intelligent, sophisticated, and cultivated as you can possibly imagine, chances are they just might be.
TVG: Violence on TV is a big topic these days. How do you handle it on Trek?
PS: We're not exclusively nonviolent, though I'm told we're much less violent than the original series, which used physical conflict more frequently.
TVG: You don't punch guys out as much as William Shatner did.
PS: I don't personally, although I have thrown a punch or two [laughs]. Captain Picard's approach to most situations is diplomacy. He always strives to see someone else's point of view and not to act aggressively or impulsively.
TVG: On the Enterprise, you give orders. From whom do you still take them?
PS: I don't think I'm good at taking orders. [Pauses.] I don't know why, but that question make me extraordinarily uncomfortable. Maybe that's the answer.
TVG: What's the first thing you do every morning?
PS: I wake up about 4:30, 5 O'clock and listen to classical radio while I read and drink tea. To an Englishman, the day does not begin without a proper cup of tea-and the critical thing about tea-making is that the water be boiling as it hits the tea leaves. In America, they bring you water and a tea bag, outside the pot, which I shall never get used to.
TVG: Do you read the newspaper?
PS: No, no, no. I read books. The hour before I go to work is for me. I don't want to be made angry by the newspapers. I don't want to be moved by the press. Later, I can cope with it. I've got to have one moment before I confront the reality of the world. So I usually have two or three books going at the same time. Only after I shower and shave do I switch to words and voices.
TVG: Do you read science fiction?
PS: Not at all. My shelf is stuffed with unread science fiction that people have sent me. If I do read any, it's always an effort and I sigh with relief when it's over. Especially now, when science fiction occupies so much of my time, I feel there's so much else I'm hungry to read.
TVG: Are you for space exploration?
PS: Actually I'm quite ambivalent about this. I get approached quite a lot, regarding the shuttle, the space station, the Mars mission. But I look around our planet and I find it hard to justify those billions of dollars. Of late I've just been saying no to these things, because I cannot wholeheartedly commit myself to the idea that this is a priority that should take precedence over other needs.
TVG: Do you hang out with the Star Trek cast off-camera?
PS: I'm entertaining half of them at my house this weekend. We do all kinds of things together. I've just finished directing four of them in a play. It never occurred to me to cast anybody else. I wanted to work with my palms and I wanted to have a new experience with them. I'm told that it is unusual. And we have fun. I've laughed more in the last six years than I have in my entire life.
TVG: As captain, you file personnel reports and make assignment recommendations. Care to speculate on what you'll recommend for your command crew once the series ends?
PS: It's perfectly clear to half the galaxy that Commander Riker ought to be a captain. He's been offered it and, to my relief, turned it down, but Riker is probably the most overqualified First Officer in the history of space flight. Lieutenant Commander Data is clearly First Officer material. But I've often drawn parallels in the way Data and women are regarded on the show: Their contribution is fine, up to a point, and then thee is a glass ceiling. Dr. Crusher should be running her own well-funded medical research institute. Worf-and some of this occurs in an episode-would make a great spokesman for the Federation, being a Klingon. I think Counselor Troi would make a wonderful teacher; posting her to Star Fleet Academy would make sense. Commander La Forge's promotion to First Officer is long overdue. He's now in Engineering, but I've missed the delightful irony of the first season-Gene Roddenberry's idea-that the navigator of the Enterprise, La Forge, should be a blind man.
TVG: What does the future hold for the actors?
PS: I have no doubt that Jonathan Frakes [Riker] will have a marvelous career as a director. Brent Spiner [Data] is so multitalented that, given a personal choice, I would love to see him get a leading role in a musical or some dramatic play. In fact, one day I wish to see Brent play Stan Laurel-his likeness to Stan in his middle years is extraordinary. Within five years Michael Dorn [Worf] will be a leading member of either the Royal Shakespeare Company or the National Theatre of Great Britain. Marina Sirtis [Troi] will have a movie career. LeVar Burton [La Forge] will be a significant movie producer or director. Whoopi Goldberg [Guinan]? Difficult to say. It's going to be a struggle for Whoopi when the series if over. All I can do is wish her luck. It's going to be really though for her.
TVG: Where do you want to go that you haven't boldly gone before?
PS: [Laughs.] Brent Spiner and I have promised ourselves that we are going to become certified for scuba diving this year-together. We'll hold hands and jump in. I am very, very nervous of the water, have been all my life. My mother had a phobia about it and she passed it on the me. So I cannot believe that I have given my promise that I would do this with Brent. I'm sitting here talking about it and already I'm getting nervous.
TVG: Do you have a pool in L.A.?
PS: I'm a British actor living in America. It's absolutely required.
TVG: Do you use the pool?
PS: Not very often.
TVG: No doubt it will be as hard for you to leave the show as it will be hard for the fans to accept it's over.
PS: They want it to go on forever. In a way, it could. I would be content to do it in some form or other, so long as it was decent and respectable.
TVG: Do you have any regrets about being involved with Star Trek?
PS: One. It separated me from my daughter for long periods of time, and I'll never get that back.
TVG: Will you be doing more American television?
PS: Yes. I wrote a role for myself. It's an hour-long TV play, an adaptation of a section of a novel called The Master and Margarita. It's about the most famous day in the history of the Christian world-the day of the Crucifixion-as seen exclusively from the point of view of Pontius Pilate. In the Bible, Pilat is only seen in the morning when Christ is brought before him. I take it further.
TVG: What's the strangest place you've been recognized?
PS: About a year ago, I was working with a film company in Croatia, and one night, my girlfriend and I went to a restaurant recommended to me in the old town of Zagreb. We were ushered in by a very dignified and formal maitre d', shown to a table, given menus. We didn't speak a word of Croat, so we ordered everything by pointing. And when our salads arrived, sitting in the center of each-beautifully carved out of cucumber and green and red peppers-was a perfect little replica of the Enterprise! The other courses were served, and there was no change of any kind on this man's demeanor; we paid our bill and left-without any other comment being made.
TVG: We know you hate being asked about your hair, so we won't. But is there any question you'd like us to ask that we haven't?
PS: There is! But it can't be asked yet. After the show ends, and I am involved in a serious film or play, I look forward to being asked, "And how was your work in this role influenced by you years on Star Trek?"
TVG: And what do you expect from the next generation?
August 14, 1993
Letters: To boldly go where no mail has gone before
I am very upset and disappointed to read that Paramount has decided to pull the plug on Star Trek: The Next Generation after next season. I don't see why it is necessary to cancel the series to make a movie. Surely there must be a way to do both. TNG has gotten better and better each season and there is still plenty of story to tell.
Deep Space Nine can't possibly replace Star Trek. The heart of Star Trek has always been and will always be the Enterprise.
Christy L. Adkins
August 21, 1993
Letters: Beam her up, Captain
It was proving to be a typical bad Monday-traffic jams, hot weather, unair-conditioned bus-when I picked up the new TV Guide and saw Patrick Stewart smiling at me from the cover [July 31]. Thank you for the great article and pictures; they made my day.
August 28, 1993
Letters: Sorry, Gates
Anyone who has ever made a "thank you" speech knows that you name names at your peril. Far safer to thank "everyone too numerous to mention" than to embark on a list of names and leave one out.
Therefore, when David Rensin, talking to me for his excellent "Interview" piece in TV Guide [July 31], asked me to speculate on the future careers of my colleagues on Star Trek: The Next Generation, I spoke about each, taking great care that none were left out. Fool, Picard. For there in print-or more to the point, not in print-my best intentions were mocked. It would seem I had nothing to say about my adores friend and colleague Gates McFadden.
Please, dear editor, before I am torn limb from aged limb by the fans of Dr. Beverly Crusher, let the world know that I did not omit, either by accident or intention, Ms. McFadden from my list.
Los Angeles Cal.
October 2, 1993
Grapevine: Talkin' 'bout Next Generation
"It was a dream come true," says Ben Vereen of his guest shot on this week's episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as the father of Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton). "I always loved the original Star Trek, and now I love the new one and Deep Space Nine." Vereen's passion is no secret to Trek stars: Last year, while he was recovering from a near-fatal accident, Whoopi Goldberg sent him an autographed picture of her as TNG's Guinan, and Leonard Nimoy sent him his Spock ears from "Star Trek VI." "I framed them," says Vereen. "I believe those ears have magical powers." Further evidence of his fanaticism: the "Live Long and prosper" sign on his dressing-room door at "Jelly's Last Jam," the Broadway show in which he recently co-starred. It's no wonder Vereen was overcome at the actual TNG taping. "It's crazy, but when I put that uniform on, I wept. They had a hard time getting me to take it off."
TV Guide Update: Syndication
Star Trek Rumors Fly
Rumors are buzzing on the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Will there be an eighth season in '94-'95, or is the current one the last? "Anything is possible with Star Trek," says star Patrick Stewart. But executive producer Rick Berman claims the series will "pretty definitively" close down. Another spinoff of the 1960s series, however, is a definite possibility, and, according to one insider, "new contracts" have been signed with TNG actors. As for the TNG feature film, a script giving William Shatner a huge role has been scrapped. The current working script dispatches the new Enterprise back in time to hook up with some of the original crew, including Shatner, although he'll have a reduced role. A few TNG actors are dismayed that the movie combines the two casts. "The producers are worried about whether the cast can carry a Star Trek movie," says a TNG source acidly. "By having some of the original cast, they're sending TNG out there with training wheels."
October 16, 1993
Klingon For A Day
B-ball great James Worthy stirs up some hoopla as a guest on `Star Trek: The Next Generation'
Until this guy showed up, no one has ever had to duck to get through the portals of the Starship Enterprise. But then, no guest star on Star Trek: The Next Generation has ever been 6-foot-9. "Does he really have to bend down to get through the doors?" asks Marina Sirtis, who plays Counselor Deanna Troi, craning her neck around a stage wall to see. "Look," she says, delighted, "he does!"
The towering man in question is the L.A. Lakers' star forward, James Worthy, a remarkable hoopster with stealthy moves, leonine grace, and a reputation as a gentle soul. But he has been transformed for this week's episode (syndicated; check local listings) into a surly, ferocious Klingon named Koral.
For those not fluent in the other-worldly language of Star Trek, Klingons-the ones who look on the outside the way most people feel on the inside when they're suffering a major Excedrin headache-are a race of honorable warriors. They are known for their loyalty, bravery, and brute strength. They are also known for their alarming appearance. "Other than our own Michael Dorn [who plays the charismatic Klingon known as Lt. Worf]," says Joy Zapata, one of a team of Emmy Award-winning Star Trek hair stylists, "I have never seen a better-looking Klingon than James Worthy. You know, Klingons are supposed to be big, dynamic, scary, overpowering. He's supposed to take the screen and he does."
Which comes as something of a surprise to those who have watched the soft-spoken Worthy quietly be come one of the all-time basketball greats over the past 10 seasons: In Laker history, he's ranked third overall in steals, fourth in field goals, fifth in points, eighth in assists. But unlike some of his flashier counterparts, Worthy lets his stats speak for themselves.
"From what I know of him," says Jim Murray, sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times, "he'd be miscast as a Klingon" Because he isn't the ferocious-warrior type? "No, he's not" asserts Murray. "James Worthy is very gentlemanly. He is not scary. Well, I mean, he is if you're trying to guard him and he's got the basketball. Now that's scary."
This eye-catching role must be something of a relief to Worthy, who made national headlines in 1990 when he was arrested and pled no contest to charges of soliciting prostitution. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.
So, right now, Worthy's big concern is being a worthy Klingon-and all his years developing basketball finesse haven't helped. "When you're used to speed and beating someone in a footrace," he says, "it's very difficult to take six seconds to say three words." Worthy pauses, shaking his head. "Acting is tough"
Worthy says that working with the crew of the Enterprise-especially with Patrick Stewart, who plays Capt. Jean-Luc Picard-was intimidating. "I got to watch him do the last shot of the day, and it was just overwhelming," says Worthy, searching his memory bank for the proper comparison. "It was like seeing Lew Alcindor for the first time, or rather Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]. The guy is just great."
So after his Trek experience, will Worthy give up basketball to tread the boards? "No," he replies immediately, "I think I'll keep my day job." The star forward takes one last look at his fierce-looking, mighty self in the mirror, admiring the newly flared nostrils, the bony, ridged forehead, and the enormous wig, a dreadlock masterpiece. "But I'd love to wear this on the court."
-Deborah Starr Seibel
November 6, 1993
TV Guide Update: Ploys
Big Bucks Ride on New Star Trek
Can a television network be launched from a starship? Paramount Communications Inc. thinks so: In January 1995 it will introduce a two-night-a-week programming operation, The paramount Network, which will feature a lavish new version of its hugely successful Star Trek series, to be called Star Trek: Voyager. The new starship-based show will join the current Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the 24th century. But other elements of the sci-fi show are still being hatched by producers Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor, who crafted DS9 and Star Trek: The Next Generation. A lot is riding on their imaginations: Paramount needs an exciting show to draw unaffiliated stations and keep them from a new network that's expected from Time Warner and Tribune Co. And Paramount wants to convince Wall Street that the company is on track to fend off a hostile takeover from cable's QVC shopping channel.
December 11, 1993
Grapevine: In `Snapper,' Meaney's a `beaming' grandpa
As the only permanent crossover from Star Trek: The Next Generation to Deep Space Nine, he's certainly earned a unique spot among TV's most popular team of sky jocks. Still, Colm Meaney (Chief Operations Officer O'Brien) was able to wangle a six-week leave to star in the upcoming comedy "The Snapper," opening in theaters Dec. 17. In the film, Meaney plays the befuddled father of an unmarried daughter who won't reveal the name of her baby's dad. While on TNG, the actor experienced his own identity problems: "I was in the transporter room for 15 shows and they just kept referring to me as `Transporter Chief.' Then I get a script and I see `Transporter Chief O'Brien.' I freaked. I said, `Hey! I'm the transporter chief! What's going on here?' And then Jonathan Frakes [Riker] goes, `Relax, Colm. They just gave you a name.' "
January 8, 1994
Letters: Sorry, Klingon, you lose again!
With the negative attitude that Trekkers sometimes receive from the general public, it's good to see TV Guide treats Star Trek as mainstream entertainment. Nearly every week, I can enjoy articles about the show and its actors.
However, your "Super TV Trivia Quiz" [Dec. 18] incorrectly stated that Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) worked for the United Federation of Planets. He, in fact, worked for Starfleet. His father, Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) worked as a delegate to the United Federation of Planets, representing the planet Vulcan.
Minister of Culture
Klingon Armada International
Allen Park, Mich.
Editor's Note: Spock too was a U.F.P. ambassador as seen in a two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
January 15, 1994
Days of Future Past
In his final season on the Final Frontier; Patrick Stewart ponders the next generation of his career
By Nina Malkin
Though Star Trek: The Next Generation has boldly gone into its final season, the mood on the set three days before Christmas is more merry than maudlin. Some cast and crew members' children, as well as a meteor shower of gifts, are aboard. Brent Spiner (Data) breaks into an impromptu lounge act of comedy with carols-only to be interrupted by catcalls and whistles as Jonathan Frakes arrives in a glittery shirt more suited to Hugh Hefner than Cmdr. Riker.
But as soon as the camera starts rolling, it's down to business-TNG runs as tight a ship as the Enterprise itself. And in full command is the man perhaps most profoundly affected by the beginning of the end: Patrick Stewart. Of this seventh year on the bridge as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, he says, "My feelings when I knew this was to be the last season were a mixture of intense relief, and sadness, and an inevitable sense of loss and regret."
Stewart is calm despite the fact that immediately following today's scenes, he'll fly to London to perform his one-man stage version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" at the venerable Old Vic-his return to British theater. Although he hasn't much time to wax nostalgic, he takes a moment to reflect: "This has played a bigger part in my life than any other project I've ever been involved in."
Which is something he hardly expected. "When it first started, I didn't think that I would survive beyond the pilot," the actor recalls. "I did not unpack-I didn't see the point. I thought the producers would come to their senses and realize they'd made a grave error in casting me. I was certain that I'd be on my way back to London." Circumstances proved him wrong. "Eventually, it became clear to me that not only wasn't I going to go away, the series wasn't going to go away," Stewart laughs. "I stayed-and have relished every moment. "
The close personal relationships Stewart has formed during TNG's seven-year run have much to do with his affection for the show. Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher) says, "I adore Patrick, and we've been very close since all this started." As to the chemistry between the two-in particular regarding the episode "Attached," which nearly led their characters to a love affair-"We had a wonderful time doing those scenes," McFadden says. "We even got to bring out a lighthearted quality, with all the bantering that went on. Patrick has a fabulous sense of humor, and you don't always see that in his character."
Stewart agrees that one aspect of his own personality he brings out in Picard is his "sense of fun." And what has Picard instilled in him? "I hope that Patrick Stewart has become a better listener," he says. "That is a characteristic of Jean-Luc, but I don't think I've always paid as much attention to others as I should have. I think I'm doing a little bit better now."
Showing no sign of separation anxiety, Stewart is philosophical. "There comes a time when you've given all you can to a project, and I've liked to roam from job to job," he explains. "I'm ready now to tackle a different kind of work." Virtually everyone involved in TNG seems to share his view. "I reached the apex of Worf about three years ago, and around that time, I-and Patrick, too, I think-started counting down," says Michael Dom. Adds McFadden: "This experience has changed all of us in a really positive way, but by now we're all excited about the prospect of new things."
Not that the next big project will be all that new for many on the set today-principal photography on a TNG feature film begins as soon as the final episode wraps. "After a few days of break, I shall be back on the bridge of the Enterprise again," Stewart says-but he refuses to so much as hint about what to expect from the movie. "Under no circumstances will I give away one single breath," he says. "I think it's terribly important that we keep our surprises in this film-there are lots of them, I will tell you that."
After the film is completed, Stewart is looking forward to a much needed vacation, then an extended theater engagement. "It's very important to me to be in front of a live audience," says the actor, who remains affiliated with Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company. "While in London, I'll finalize the details of a play that I hope will open there in October of `94. There's also a possibility of doing some theater work in New York."
Other film roles are being bandied about, but Stewart is most enthusiastic about further involvement behind the camera. "The opportunity to direct has grown out of my work on Star Trek-that's been the most exciting thing for me on the series in the past few years," he says. He has directed four episodes and starts his fifth in February. "I'm delighted one of the final episodes will be mine."
Considering all the aliens encountered and friends made during the course of TNG, one might expect Stewart will put pen to paper, along the lines of William Shatner's Star Trek Memories. "There is a book in me," he says. "When it will get written I can't say, but there are some memoirs here. So watch out!"
Writing, performing, directing: ambitious goals, to be sure. But there is no question that Patrick Stewart will make it so.
Nina Malkin is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.
January 29, 1994
Ready for my closeup, Ms. McFadden
When Gates McFadden, a.k.a. Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, takes over as director for an upcoming episode, she'll become the second woman in the show's history to ever do so. "I'm wildly excited," she says. "It was seven years ago-at the start of the first season-that I asked if I could direct, and it's finally happening." Unlike a lot of actors who long to step behind the camera, McFadden has experience. Prior to TNG, she worked under the tutelage of Jim Henson, who hired her as a director of choreography and puppet movement for his ambitious 1986 film "Labyrinth" on the recommendation of an associate who was impressed with her work in theater. Henson subsequently became one of McFadden's artistic mentors, and he was much in her mind as she prepared to shoot "Genesis," in which a virus causes the denizens of the Enterprise to "de-evolve." The idea of the crew members in various primitive states-insects, reptiles, etc.-delights McFadden no end. "The possibilities are tremendous," she says. "Every night in bed, I keep seeing these shots I want to do."
February 5, 1994
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Sub-Atomic Articles
Patrick Stewart, a.k.a. Capt. Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation, hosts Saturday Night Live Feb. 5. Can he possibly top William Shatner's "Get a life" skit?
TV Guide Update: Daytime
Stork to Visit Soaper Genie Francis
Shhh! You're not supposed to know, but Genie Francis, half of spasms hottest couple-General Hospital's Luke and Laura-is expecting her first child. Francis, 31, and husband Jonathan Frakes (Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation) have been trying for several years. GH's director let the cat out of the bag when he saw Francis snacking on the set: "It's OK," he said, "you're pregnant." Francis confirmed it to the cast but has refused to comment publicly. No word yet on how GH will handle the real-life plot twist.
-Deborah Starr Seibel
March 12, 1994
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Stars trek to new toon
Look for Star Trek: The Next Generation stars Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis to play the bad guys in the near future. The two have signed in to do voices of villains Xantos and Demona, respectively, in Gargoyles, an animated series debuting this fall as part of Fisney's syndicated "Action Friday" afternoon. Gargoyles follows the adventures of a band of mythical creatures who are medieval stone statues by day, coming to life only at night, when they perform various heroics. Hmmm. Sounds like a lot of folks I know.
April 23, 1994
It may have taken seven seasons to get there. But now these seven questions are all that separate you from your own close encounter with Star Trek: The Next Generation. To celebrate the series' last episode (telecast the week of May 21), we're offering everyone who correctly answers the questions at right the chance to win a trip to Hollywood for a special screening of the finale with all cast members in attendance. Just mark your answers and send your ballot by April 29. We've set up an E-mail address for entry as well (see official rules below). The winner will be the first correct entry drawn at random from all entries. Hey, if ST:TNG has to end, at least you can be there for the last hurrah.
1. The near omnipotent villain Q, introduced in TNG's premiere episode "Encounter at Farpoint," is an almost exact copy of the character Trelane, from the original Trek. What classic Trek episode did Trelane appear in?
o A. "Elaan of Troyius"
o B. "Dagger of the Mind"
o C. "The Squire of Gothos"
o D. "Spock's Brain"
2. What famous rock drummer appeared as an Antedian during the second season?
o A. Mick Fleetwood
o B. Bun E. Carlos
o C. Ringo Starr
o D. Chris Cutler
3. While the character of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) was killed off on the first season, she was seen several times after that in holographic form. In which third-season episode did the flesh-and-blood Yar maker her return?
o A. "Skin of Evil"
o B. "Yesterday's Enterprise"
o C. "Future Impact"
o D. "Unnatural Selection"
4. In the fourth-season episode "The Host," Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) is in love with a Trill that temporarily resides in which crew member's body?
o A. Riker
o B. Data
o C. Worf
o D. Troi
5. In the two-episode story "Unification," the Enterprise comes upon a Ferengi wreck that contains parts of an old Vulcan ship. Which ship?
o A. The Fesarius
o B. The T'Pau
o C. The Archon
o D. The Reliant
6. In the sixth season, when the Enterprise rescued Scotty (James Doohan), how long had he been trapped inside the transporter beam?
o A. 75 years
o B. The combined length of all six "Star Trek" movies
o C. Nine Days
o D. 200 years
7. In Star Trek: TNG's final season, many of the actors were granted long-time wishes for their characters. What did Worf (Michael Dorn) and Troi (Marina Sirtis) get to do?
o A. Commandeer the Enterprise
o B. Have an affair
o C. Dip Picard's hand in a bowl of warm water while he was asleep
o D. Beat Riker at poker
May 14, 1994
And the contest winner is...
Jim Merritt, 36, from Capitola, Cal. The software consultant was one of 275,000 who entered TV Guide's TNG contest, which appeared in the April 23 issue. His prize: a trip to the series' finale screening. Correct answers: 1.-C; 2.-A; 3.-B; 4.-A; 5.-B; 6.-A; 7.-B.
Exit the Enterprise
Some said it would never fly-a sequel to "Star Trek," the most popular cult TV show of all time. But when "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was launched in 1987, it not only flew, it soared. Now, the crew of the Enterprise is about to embark on its final TV voyage (airing the week of May 23; check local listings) and begin exploring strange new worlds on the big screen. In this issue, we salute seven season of stellar science fiction from a show that truly was ahead of its time.
Behind the scenes with the stars as `The Next Generation' blasts off-one last time.
By Michael Logan
Sitting like a lost orphan in the middle of Paramount's cavernous Stage 8, Marina Sirtis wipes at her drippy mascara and attempts a droopy smile. It's hard to tell what makes Sirtis more upset-the fact that her phenomenal hit series Star Trek The Next Generation has been canceled after seven seasons, or that none of her six co-stars seems to be taking it as hard as she is.
"I'm really rather hurt that they're not going to miss me as much as I'm going to miss them...the bastards!" says Sirtis, a British expatriate who was cast as TNG supershrink Deanna Troi just six months after landing on U.S. shores. "That's why I'm so torn apart. These people-and my husband-are the only family I have in this country."
But then, this really isn't goodbye.
Workmen may be dismantling Sickbay and ripping up carpet in the Transporter Room but, next door on Stage 7, spanking-new sets and costumes are waiting for Sirtis and the rest of the Magnificent Seven, who will next star in the $25-million film "Star Trek: Generations." Chances are, they'll also be offered guest spots on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (and maybe even on TNG's upcoming replacement series, Star Trek: Voyager). And, if they so choose, they can reunite on the sci-fi convention circuit until they're old and gray.
So there will be no official farewell, no last-time-before-an-audience hug-fest like the cast of Cheers had (nor, mercifully, will there be any tacky, drunken revelry on The Tonight Show!). Instead, production on the two-hour finale-achingly titled "All Good Things..."-will come to an end in piecemeal fashion. The last time all seven regulars appear on camera together actually occurs five days before the series wraps. The emotions are pretty piecemeal, too.
"A slight little pang of despair runs through me every time I realize we're going to be on the Bridge orin Picard's quarters for the last time-but there's no real sense of closure," says Rick Berman, executive producer of TNG and guardian of the vision of creator Gene Roddenberry. "The movie," he adds, "certainly softens the blow of separation."
But nothing softens the bewilderment. No one seems to know (or is willing to say) exactly why Paramount has photon-torpedoed the most popular and financially lucrative first-run drama in the history of syndication.
"There are a lot of reasons why this decision has been made, and I'm not aware of all of them," says Berman, hulking like a giant panda in his production office (a bust of Roddenberry sits on his desk, its eyes covered by a red bandanna).
Across the lot in his small, no-frills trailer, Jonathan Frakes (Riker) isn't quite so complacent.
"If there's any truth to the rumor that our show makes Paramount $80 million a year, why in God's name do they take off the cash cow?" asks Frakes, breaking his melancholy with a Cheshire cat grin. "But they don't ask us, do they? One wonders if they aren't going to the well one too many times. I hope not. But it's certainly got to be a fear the creators have."
Then again, maybe not. Michael Dorn (Worf) tried to have a conversation with one of the TNG producers about the frustrating lack of closure. "But," he says, "she was [more interested] in talking about going on to Voyager. She's on her way and I felt like an old shoe. It's sorta like [they are saying], `Hey, we've got a new group showing up, it's been wonderful, see ya later, have a good finale.'" Dom grabs a chair in an empty corner of the Ten Forward lounge and offers this P.O.V.:
"There was a different feeling when we first came on board. If there was an answer you needed, you could always go right to Gene-and the answer made sense. It was well thought out because it was his vision. And we're kind of a conglomerate now. We're lost in the machinery."
But there are no sore feelings between the crewmates of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-170l-D.
"We have all the affection in the world for each other," continues Dorn. "I don't know if we're ever going to have this much fun on any future job."
Sirtis seconds that emotion: "For the love to have lasted this long is extraordinary. Everyone has said that they've never known actors to get along this well after two years, much less seven. We've all heard horror stories about other sets, but we have no horror stories here. Not one."
The intercast dynamics are fascinating to behold-as is the way they forgive each other's trespasses. Sirtis is the make-up-chair diva, the one most likely to keep everyone else waiting. Dorn is subject to great bouts of joy and great bouts of angst while, in contrast, LeVar Burton (Geordi), whose spartan trailer is at all times wafty with incense, seems to march to a transcendental drummer all his own. A master of the snide understatement, Brent Spiner (Data) is the cast member whose critical opinion is most highly regarded ("I was thinking of asking him to be my acting coach for upcoming auditions," says Sirtis, "but he'll make me pay'). Then there is the sleek and coltish Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher). Half sophisticate, half earth mama, she has brought her 2-year-old son, Jack, to the set today and constantly apologizes for his cranky outbursts-one of which ruins a scene she is playing with Patrick Stewart.
Ahhhhh, yes, Mr. Stewart. Even when he's not playing Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, the chrome-domed superstar can't help but stomp about the sound stage like a flat-footed stentor. He is the ruler of the roost: often funny, often enchanting, and just as often abrupt, moody, and manic (he snippily refused to be interviewed for this farewell issue, only to reconsider at the 11th hour). It comes as no surprise that Stewart has won international success and various awards for his one man stage version of "A Christmas Carol"; he's Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim all rolled into one. And the cast adores him for it.
But with Stewart self-cast as the enfant terrible, the role of company father figure falls quite naturally to Frakes. One is instantly struck by the guy's age-of-innocence decency. "This is all very bittersweet...very bittersweet" he says, grasping at his heart. "It's a very revealing time for us all. I've been very lucky with Riker-he's a good and honorable man I've always begged for a little more irony, but irony's tough to write. All things being equal it's been a good lick, as they say."
The days tick by. Spiner-who doesn't want to move seven years' worth of junk out of his trailer-is begging Paramount not to force him into plusher digs when the movie starts. Dorn, looking zonked, says he wants "to go to Hawaii and get massaged within an inch of my life." Sirtis (without any tutoring from Spiner) has gone on her fist audition in seven years. "And I could hardly speak," she says. "Maybe the rest [of the cast] are so sure of themselves that they have no doubts about their next jobs. But am really scared of what's out there. "
By the time the septet's last scene rolls around, tension is so thick it can only be cut by machete (for days, the stars have been throwing hissy fits about the increasing and ceaseless bombardment of reporters and news crews-so much so that one of the show's frenzied publicists asks us not to look any of the actors directly in the eye). But as the final setup begins, the players gather one by one in Riker's quarters, determined to turn the atmosphere buoyant.
Frakes, taking a chair, begins to hum the TNG theme song. A moment later, Spiner joins in. So, then, does Stewart. And Burton. And Dorn. And then...it's a free-for-all. A glorious chorus of swaying, arm-waving Enterprisers booms out round after round after round, interrupted only by the plaintive cry of Sirtis who is staring, dazed and confused, at her out-of-date script.
"Why are everybody else's pages yellow when mine are cherry?" asks the tear-stained beauty. Dorn pretends to sob.
"Since this is our last day, there's something I've been meaning to tell you all," says Stewart, as he puts his arm romantically around a burly, mustachioed stagehand. Frakes laughs. So does Dorn. So does Burton. Another chorus of the TNG theme begins-but it is interrupted by finale director Winrich Kolbe. It's time to get serious.
Sirtis (who has since been handed the new, yellow pages) quickly runs her lines in a goofy Cockney accent. McFadden, as if saving herself for the take, delivers hers in monotone. The boys giggle through theirs. Before the cameras roll, Kolbe tries to achieve a smoother sense of pace with the dialogue. But he can't because Frakes flubs a line. Then he flubs it again. Then he flubs it again.
Finally, the exasperated Frakes shrugs, throws his hands hopelessly in the air, and says, "Hey, what are they gonna do-FIRE ME???!!!"
Trek Star Memories
Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
"I cannot yet say the world is my oyster," grins Patrick Stewart. But at least England seems to be. Despite achieving international icon status, the British-born Stewart has thus far escaped the fate of Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, whose fame and fortune have made them pariahs in their own country.
"The English are uncomfortable with too much success-we see it to be in somewhat bad taste," snickers Stewart. But he notes that "the 25 million people who watch The Next Generation every week is not insignificant to producers" and, as a result, he is "currently, to my deep pleasure, looking at several independent film scripts coming out of England." Also, this fall, he will co-produce and star in a London stage revival of what he'll only reveal is a "modem American classic" (he is presently scouting for an American leading lady). Stewart-who was so sure he was going to be fired from TNG at its outset that he didn't unpack his bags for six weeks-says he's also "most curious to see what possibilities will open for a film career in Hollywood." Picard's evolution into a heartthrob has "opened up an area of work for me that I'm delighted with-because I never anticipated romantic roles would be accessible."
Trek Star Memories
Cmdr. William Riker
"There are far worse fates than being permanently identified with the legend that is Star Trek," says Jonathan Frakes. "I'll take a career Like William Shatner's or Leonard Nimoy's anytime." Frakes has been directing episodes of TNG and next hopes to "cash in some chips at Paramount so they'll let me direct Deep Space Nine and their new series, Voyager". And just like every other director in town, I'd love to do NYPD Blue." Not that he plans to give up acting. Frakes, who was recently seen in the poorly received North and South sequel, Heaven and Hell, says he'd commit to another quality series "in a heartbeat-especially a sitcom. Hey, I was around and struggling long before The Next Generation came along. I don't have to be kicked in the head to recognize a good job."
He smarts at the cast's year-in, year-out Emmy snub: "I think it's an insult to Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart. They have done work on this show as good as anything I've ever seen on television. But personally? It doesn't bother me." But then, Frakes has his own little prize on the way: He and wife Genie Francis (General Hospital's Laura) are expecting their first baby in August.
Trek Star Memories
Counselor Deanna Troi
Marina Sirtis was folding sweaters at an L.A. shopping mall for a living when called to audition for Deanna Troi, The Next Generation's half-human, half-Betazoid psychologist. But along with the desperately needed paycheck came a little frustration.
"Don't get me wrong," says Sirtis. "I am very appreciative of every storyline Troi got because, let's face it, I am not one of the Big Three. But [I felt] a kind of disappointment that so many were `love' episodes. The stories that stand out in my mind aren't the girlie ones. I loved `Face of the Enemy,' where Troi was abducted because she was an empath-not because she was a woman."
She only has one real regret: "I could never make Troi funny. People will say, `Gosh, Marina, you're sooo funny-you should do comedy.' But Troi has no timing. None!' Her role in the upcoming TNG movie is no laughing matter, either-Sirtis nearly turned it down because it was just too small. "I speak only for myself," she huffs, "but after seven years of 17-hour days, they could have thrown us a bit of a bigger bone."
Trek Star Memories
"Emotionally, I really haven't come to grips with the end of the series yet," says Michael Dorn. "However, I do know one thing-I'm gonna be glad to get out of this makeup!" For seven years, the towering actor has undergone a nightmarish hair-and-latex transformation to become Worf, the Klingon character whose beastly exterior belies a beautiful soul. And that duality is his proudest accomplishment.
"Gene Roddenberry gave me great creative leeway and, as a result. I feel I've been the architect for all Klingons," says Dorn. He considers the simmering romance between Worf and Troi to be his "crowning glory. It's not consummated in the series finale, but we do put a sort of button on the whole thing. We leave you knowing there's something there.
Reflecting on the upside and downside of Trek success, Dorn admits he's enjoyed "the freedom that comes from not having to worry about every penny. But I've now developed such an aversion to material things-I mean, I actually own a pinball machine!-that I just want to unload. I want to get rid of the house and possessions and get a little apartment somewhere."
Trek Star Memories
Dr. Beverly Crusher
Though Gates McFadden's run on The Next Generation was a tad shorter than that of her costars (her character-Chief Medical Off. Beverly Crusher-was written out for season two), she more than made up for it her dialing finger.
"Just ask any of the producers," says McFadden, flashing a naughty grin. "Over the years I was always making telephone calls to say, `Gee...couldn't we make Crusher a little stronger on page 23?' or, `All the men get to say things in the last scene-\what happened to the women?!'" Her biggest triumph: getting Dr. Bev's romance with Picard back on the air.
McFadden is the first to prove there is life after TNG: Even before the finale was in the can, the actress was jetting back and forth to Oregon to film Mystery Dance, an ABC pilot for a whodunit comedy suspiciously reminiscent of Woody Allen's "Manhattan Murder Mystery." "I got to be sarcastic," she says with glee, "which is something that was never allowed on the Enterprise!"
Trek Star Memories
Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
When Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the air in 1987, Roots star LeVar Burton-who was hired to play the blind, visor-wearing Geordi La Forge-was easily the best-known member of the company. And maybe that's why he's so unruffled by TNG's cancellation.
"I actually feel great about it," grins Burton. "This has been a very fulfilling seven-year cycle in my life, but I feel in my very being that it's time to move on. Time to do what I've been preparing to do-tell stories that are near and dear to my heart." Long associated with educational programming (now in his 11th year as host of PBS's Reading Rainbow, he has also been named exec producer), Burton squirreled away his dough, and in 1991 established his own production company, Eagle Nation Films.
His favorite TNG episodes? "Any opportunity to get onto the Holodeck and out of uniform," laughs Burton, who believes he never really got a chance to rock `n' roll with his character until Geordi was promoted to chief engineer in season two. "He started out as navigator, but we really needed to find something for the poor guy to do. After all, Gene Roddenberry always maintained that the Enterprise was so sophisticated, it could fly itself."
Trek Star Memories
Lt. Cmdr. Data
So what's Brent Spiner gonna do next?
"If the history of hit TV shows tells us anything, I'll most likely be on the first train to Has-Been City," he says with a gut-busting laugh. `And that's just a quick stop on the way to Oblivion." But seriously, folks, Spiner-who plays the Starship's golden android Data-does have his worries. "There's no getting around it-for the rest of my life I'm Data I would love to think the audience will instantly accept me as another character. But, in reality. the best I can hope for is that they'll see me in future parts and say, `Oh, my God, that's Data!' and then forget about it 10 minutes later."
After several versatile years on and off Broadway, Spiner took the role of the emotionless Data with great trepidation: "I thought he would be an incredibly limiting experience." But, thanks to the Holodeck, he estimates he's played "a minimum of 20 different characters over the seven years of the series-Sherlock Holmes, Henry V, and a Musketeer. Data turned out to be as unlimiting a character as I could ever hope to play."
John de Lancie
In sizing up his performance as Q, the most-beloved villain in Star Trek history, actor John de Lancie likens himself to the Marx Brothers-but it's in all modesty.
"The Marx Brothers only did two films that are actually terrific, but because they made so few, people love them all," says de Lancie, whose appearance in the finale marks his ninth outing as the Enterprise hell-raiser. "Their fans are just a little too generous-I think I enjoy a bit of the same phenomenon"
As space teen Wesley Crusher, Wil Wheaton proved a smash kit with the Clearasil set. But the actor defected during TNG's fourth season to "go out and experience my life." Wheaton, now 21, returned to TNG earlier this season to wrap up his role. He calls the reunion "awesome" but-as a sci-fi collector he's mad as hell about the "franchise." "Up until recently, you couldn't go into a drugstore and find stupid Star Trek figurines that look like junk," he grumps.
Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien
Though an original member of The Next Generation, Colm Meaney jumped ship when his alter ego, Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien, was made operations chief of Deep Space Nine. But he rejoined his cronies for the "past" sequences of the finale. "They hauled everything out of storage-including our first-season space suits. We had great laughs remembering the day we learned how to shake our bodies to make it look like the Enterprise was on the verge of being destroyed."
Security Chief Tasha Yar
"If Gene Roddenberry hadn't been alive and in complete control of the show, there's no way I would have gotten out. Paramount certainly wouldn't have let me go," says Denise Crosby, who was so disgruntled with her back-burner status as Security Chief Tasha Yar that she begged out during the first season (though killed by an alien, Tasha, like Miles, returns for "past" sequences). "[Roddenberry] told me if he was hungry and in his 20s, he probably would have done the same thing."
The Next Generation Finale
Geordi without his visor?! Data a professor at Cambridge??!! Dr. Crusher the captain of her own Starship???!!! All this and more await when The Next Generation goes back to the future for "All Good Things...," the two-hour series finale airing the week of May 23 (check local listings).
"We wanted to end with a sweeping story that embodies the themes that have made Star Trek important to us," says exec producer Rick Berman. The episode will bookend the series by once again exploring the concept of mankind being put on trial-the theme of our premiere show, `Encounter at Farpoint'" In that episode, the Enterprise was hijacked and its command crew sentenced to death in a kangaroo court by Q, a member of an all-knowing super-race that considered humanity too barbaric to "boldly go" further into the universe. Returning as Q is John de Lancie, who sends Picard leap frogging between past, present, and future (in the latter sequences, we'll discover that the Captain, after marrying and divorcing Crusher, has happily retired to his vineyards in France). Also featured are two more blasts from the past: Colm Meaney as Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien (now the chief operations officer of Deep Space Nine) and Denise Crosby as Security Chief Tasha Yar (who was killed by an alien near the end of season one).
"We don't tie up every loose thread because, hopefully, there will be a series of movies," notes Berman. "But there is a very strong sense of finality-we owe that to the audience. Riker will not wake up in the shower and say it's all been a dream."
The Next Generation Movie
Though the film "Star Trek: Generations"-due in November brings together the 23rd century's Capt. James T. Kirk and the 24th century's Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, producer Berman insists the flick features "no time travel whatsoever." Berman isn't saying how this celestial convergence occurs. Nor will he discuss rampant rumors that Kirk (William Shatner) is going to die (Too late! Actor Malcolm McDowell, cast as the villain, Dr. Soran, has already been quoted in Daily Variety as saying, "I get to kill Kirk"). Berman is also under gag order not to discuss Whoopi Goldberg's involvement, but rest assured that Goldberg, as Guinan, will definitely be on board ("Whoopi has a great role but does not want to be mentioned in publicity, ads, or credits," says a studio insider). Confirmed are all seven TNG leads (though Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis came close to saying no) and, from the original cast, Walter Koenig (Chekov) and James Doohan (Scotty). Berman says there was no room for Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) or George Takei (Sulu), but DeForrest Kelley (Bones) and Leonard Nimoy (Spock) were offered roles and refused (Nimoy, who also declined an offer to direct, was miffed that his part was so much shrimpier than Shatner's). Trekkers desperate for more details should start haunting those sci-fi gatherings. Harrumphs Berman: "A week after the movie was written, we found a copy of it for sale at a Star Trek convention."
Celebrities from many worlds
have appeared on `TNG.'
Here, a few fond memories
By Ty Holland and Josť Martinez
James Worthy For the L.A. Laker forward, being a Klingon for a day fulfilled a Trek fan's lifelong dream "I was really proud. I was a strong representative for the Klingon race. It was actually a touching moment for me." The tallest Klingon on record (at 6-9, he had to duck to get through the Enterprise portals), Worthy believes in what the show stands for: "I like the fact that it has a lot of different races, and is all about solving problems and peace." And he especially relates to Klingons. "They kind of have some of my characteristics: They believe in their work, they are warriors, they fight till the end, they stick together. The Lakers have been known to do that, in my 12 years."
Ray Walston Being a TV veteran whose work ranges from the `60s (My Favorite Martian) to the `90s (Picket Fences) didn't prepare Walston for the notoriety he got from just one appearance as Picard's Starfleet Academy mentor, Boothby. "I really was amazed and flabbergasted at the popularity of that show. It was a joy to do. But I have to say I was very disappointed they didn't bring Boothby back in another episode." So, with only two scenes, what did Walston base the character on? "On one of the first lines Boothby said to Picard when they met: `What happened to your hair?' "
Mick Fleetwood The drummer for Fleetwood Mac played hardball rather than rock `n' roll to land the role of an Antedian dignitary, an alien with fish head and webbed fingers. "I went down to see the casting director and said, `Look, let's make a deal here. I'll shave my beard off if you guarantee you'll beam me down.' Just once in my life I wanted to be on camera being beamed down. And, true to our words, off came the beard and there I was, beamed down as the Antedian." But Fleetwood was decidedly less enthusiastic about what the aliens had for lunch: "My role was playing this creature slurping `vermicula' [a slimy Antedian delicacy]. It was gelatin with sawdust and food coloring. Pretty vile."
Ben Vereen A Star Trek fanatic. Vereen has a bathroom bedecked with glow-in-the-dark stickers of Capt. Kirk and the Enterprise: "I lie back in my tub, and imagine I'm flying through the universe in the 24th century." He even has a framed set of Spock ears given to him by Leonard Nimoy, and says that nightly episodes of TNG helped him through tough times in the hospital after he was nearly killed in a traffic accident. So the actor was overwhelmed at thc chance to guest-star as Geordi La Forge's father. "When I put on my uniform, there were tears in my eyes. I couldn't believe it. You wouldn't have thought I was in show business."
Mae Jemison "I'm the only person on the program who's been in space." says former space-shuttle astronaut Mae Jemison proudly of her 1993 role as a transporter operator. The first Africa-American woman in space, Dr. Jemison is a Trek fan going back to the first series-the days of Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura. "Her character was an affirmation. I would have gone into space no matter what, but sometimes you see people you can identify with, a person who allowed you to reaffirm that you could do it." She adds: "Star Trek is a journey into a world where people have learned to deal with each other's differences."
Bebe Neuwirth "I'm a Star Trek fan from the `60s," says the actress best known as Lilith on Cheers. "I wanted to be Uhura. She was something every little girl would love to grow up to be: smart, capable, great at her job, and also beautiful and caring. And I always thought Sulu was cute." So Neuwirth leapt at the chance to appear on a `91 TNG as an alien nurse who helps Riker. "The deal was, I would help him escape from the hospital if he made love to me. And I actually got to say the line, `I've always wanted to make love to an alien' Why would anyone turn down a role where they got to say that line?"
Joe Piscopo played a comic from the past who taught Data how to tell a joke in a 1988 episode. So Joe knows firsthand about Trek's cheapest and most effective special effect, used in every show: "The door thing-oh, man, cool. I walked through them and in my head, I heard `whoosh.' Actually, it was just two guys in T-shirts pulling the doors open, but I didn't notice them. I just heard the `whoosh' in my head." The Saturday Night Live alum admits he didn't realize the power of Trek until after his episode aired. "I'll never forget this one guy in Florida who came up to me. He looked like every chemistry major you ever saw in college. He was enthralled that I did Star Trek, and I'm sure he hadn't seen anything else I'd ever done. It didn't matter to him. It was like I had won the Nobel Peace Prize."
Paul Winfield is among the few actors to have appeared in more than one Trek incarnation: He was a human captain in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," and an alien on-the Tamarian Capt. Dathon, who spoke only in metaphors-in a `91 TNG. He recalls the latter role as "one of the hardest acting jobs I've ever had to do. At first they gave me a translated script with the English version of what I was saying. They were very serious about it. It had to be spoken exactly the way it was written; they worked very hard on it. It's easy to do Shakespeare; it's hard to do that sort of... gibberish." Despite the difficulty, and the fact that Dathon died in the episode, the character was a fan fave-so much so that he's one of the few guests to have a toy figure based on him. "Gee, it's a shame I died, isn't it?" says Winfield. "I could have come back and done a sequel."
Michelle Phillips She only appeared in one episode-as Jean-Luc Picard's long-lost first love-but it has had a lasting effect on the former Mamas and the Papas songbird and Knots Landing star. "It was like doing a miniseries," she says. "It aired over and over again." And even though she did the appearance six years ago, fans just won't let her forget about it. "It's funny. I get letters from Trekkers all the time. They think it's a new episode." Unlike most Star Trek guest stars, Phillips isn't an avid fan of the series. In fact, there's only one thing that gets her to watch-when her episode is on. "That's when I make the big exception."
Artisans from the `Next Generation' reveal tricks of the TV space trade
By Nina Malkin
Richard James Production Designer
Richard James used to work as a designer for NASA, "but only as a means to break into art direction," he says. The veteran production designer came to Star Trek: The Next Generation at the start of its second season and has been responsible for "everything you see except the actors" ever since. Over the seasons, James admits: "We've had to slash and burn a lot; budgets play a big part in last-minute changes. I start off with the Taj Mahal and wind up with Motel 6!" Case in point: Lt. Cmdr. Data's ornate English manor home in the final episode. "We designed a library for it, two stories high, with a mezzanine level full of books," says James. "Then I had to cut $30,000-so out came the erasers!" He says his crew has been too busy to get sentimental about the series ending. "But when it hits us, we're going to be very sad," he says, tapping the final show's script on his desk "`All Good Things...,'" he sighs. "An appropriate title."
Michael Westmore Makeup Supervisor
For Michael Westmore, TNG's seven-year makeup maven, sci-fi isn't pretty. "This is work: You're in at 1 in the morning, you do three-hour makeup jobs, you're on the set all day long touching up." And while Westmore has fun creating more aliens than the Weekly World News, he's not bored when it's time to do the TNG regulars. "Actually, you breathe a sigh of relief, because there's so much of the other work to do," he says. "But even enhancing the natural beauty of, say, Counselor Troi, can take several hours." No matter how wild and weird his imagination may have run over the seasons, Westmore says Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry defined one primary guideline. "Gene's concept was to have a little bit of human in everybody, so you can relate to them," he says. "We never buried anybody so deep that he was just a blob."
Robert Blackman Costume Designer
Veteran stage costume designer Bob Blackman moved easily from the theater to TNG five seasons ago. And he has even put his classical background to use on the series. "I'll pick up a sleeve from one era, a neckline from another, cram them together, and then clean it up and make it sleeker," he says. His first mission involved changing the men's Star Fleet uniforms from front-zipping spandex jumpsuits to two-piece wool gabardine numbers. "Spandex is so unforgiving-you have a couple of extra doughnuts, and everybody sees them," he says, adding that men found the fabric too restrictive. "Women wear bras-they're used to it but guys are real wusses. They know nothing of pain!" Blackman promises "lots of new creations" for the final episode. "We'll get to see all of them in the future, so there'll be new uniforms and, for those who've retired, well see how they dress as civilians." That, says Blackman, is his greatest challenge. "Civilian clothes need to reflect the characters' personalities," he explains. "For instance: Riker is a loose, trombone-playing kind of guy, and his clothes show that. Deanna Troi and Dr. Crusher both have remarkable taste." Does anyone have bad taste? "Oh, no!" he assures. "No one's tacky at Star Trek."
Dan Curry Visual-effects Producer
As visual effects producer on TNG, Dan Curry employs a decidedly mixed bag of "gags" (the industry term for illusions). "We do a mixture of very high-tech and very low-tech" says Curry, who's been with the series since its first season. How low can they go? "When one of my guys was getting out of his car one day, he stepped in something that might have been Alpo on a previous day," Curry says with certain chagrin. "A closeup macro-shot of this...squashed substance looked like a very interesting planet surface-once we threw it out of focus so you couldn't see the undigested corn." Curry says he comes up with this stuff because he retains "a childlike" view of the world. "When I walk into a hardware store and look through the plumbing section, I don't just see plumbing supplies; I see spaceship parts in a different scale." At the same time, he must keep on top of the latest technological advances. "A lot of what we do now is transitionary technology," the two-time Emmy-winner says. "It sometimes makes me feel like a blacksmith at the age of the advent of the automobile." As filming for the final episode approached, Curry and crew were brainstorming to come up with the show's last "new gag"-a time-space phenomenon that's pivotal to the story. "Right now, we're toying with different ideas on how to make it," says Curry. "We're winging it."
Mrs. Roddenberry Speakes Her Mind
The First Lady of `Star Trek' defends her husbands memory and tries to unravel the show's cancellation
By Michael Logan
No doubt about it, Majel Barrett is a pistol-and she's got all cartridges loaded.
"I'm very disappointed that I'm not part of the finale-of all people, I should have been there," says Barrett, the widow of Gene Roddenberry and the only performer to have spanned all Star Trek incarnations. After appearing as the first officer in Roddenberry's original pilot for Star Trek, Barrett was recast as Nurse Christine Chapel, the role she played throughout the series. She continued as Chapel in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," and later became madcap mama Lwaxana Troi on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And, as hardcore Trekkers know, she's also the voice of the Enterprise computer. As a result, Barrett is more than just the "First Lady of Star Trek," as fans have proclaimed her-she is also keeper of the flame. Now she's burning about some recent Trek stories that cast her husband in an unfavorable light.
"Apparently the best way for inadequate talent to achieve recognition is by being negative," huffs Barrett, referring to author Joel Engel's new-and very unauthorized-tell-all biography, Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and The Man Behind Star Trek. In it, Engel paints Roddenberry as a sexually insatiable, widely disliked glory hog who overhyped his "vision" while burying the contributions of those who made it a reality. Worse yet, the author got a few of Roddenberry's former setside cronies to back this up on record.
"I was rather shocked to see some of them [quoted in the book] because all during Gene's lifetime they were calling him `friend, friend, friend.' And then to hear the venom that comes after he's gone! It just shows you who the ___-kissers were."
When Gene Roddenberry is attacked, Barrett fights back. She calls Engel (who penned a similarly dark biography on Rod Sterling) "one of those people who'd accuse Santa Claus of abusing children." The tone of his book disturbs her almost as much as the details. "Even if some things in the book are true-even if everything in the book is true-it should never have [been written]," she insists. "Gene instilled a hope and a brightness in people. He gave us reason to look forward to the future and he did it with a great deal of love and energy-so leave it alone! People like [Engel] absolutely disgust me. What he's done reflects more on his own attitude and self-image than that of his subject."
And speaking of hidden agendas, La Barrett has some thoughts on the bizarre cancellation of her husband's final brainchild-Star Trek: Generation:
"Paramount has come up with a whole bunch of excuses and reasons-but so far none of them holds water. One [exec] will point in one direction, one will point in the other. I have a feeling it has to do with what goes on behind that little door marked `Accounting.' Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think we've heard the truth yet."
"Maybe it's Rick Berman," says Barrett. "Maybe he just wants to go on to some thing that has no more of Gene Roddenberry in it." Berman, the executive producer who inherited the Roddenberry scepter (and, with it, an overwhelming responsibility to the fans) has been left. she says, "with the [burden] of the whole thing. If nothing is out there with Gene's name on it, it might make Rick's role a little easier. I could [understand] it."
But Barrett, a big hit on the sci-fi convention circuit, says Trekkers are keeping an open mind about TNG's spinoff series Star Trek: Voyager.
"They're disappointed about the cancellation but they're not screaming mad or threatening the studio or anything like that. They know it's inevitable. Don't forget, they fought hard against The Next Generation seven years ago and they lost that battle, too."
Winning them over wasn't easy. Recalls Barrett: "I was the only little voice from the original series going around the country saying, `Give The Next Generation a chance! It's gonna be marvelous!' The other seven [original cast members] were saying, "They can't replace us! We know you fans aren't going to tolerate this!' Well, the fans are now willing to admit they made a mistake-so they're tolerant and willing to see what this Voyager thing is."
And what would the maestro have thought? "Gene reached the point where he felt he'd done enough. He was retired and was resigned to the fact [Berman] would go on without him. When Rick talked about [the possibility of] doing a third series, Gene just said, `Go with God, I wish you well.' "
Barrett has not, as yet, been asked to take part (even as the computer) in either the new series or the upcoming film But she's not sitting home waiting for the phone to ring, either. In a partnership sure to make loyal Trekkers drool, Barrett has joined forces with Dorothy "D.C." Fontana (story editor on the original series and co-writer of the TNG premiere) to create a universe around the character of Ranger, a heroic DNA clone whom Roddenberry created in the early `70s but never thoroughly developed.
"And we're not huntin' for money," assures Barrett, who has sold the comicbook rights to BIG Entertainment (it, in turn, licensed CD-ROM rights to IBM). Borrowing from "The Magnificent Seven" formula, Barrett and Fontana have placed Ranger on a dinosaur-filled planet in the Andromeda Galaxy and given him some pretty odd traveling companions, including an asexual test-tube child and an 18-inch-tall troublemaker who, Barrett says, "is a cross between a Crip and a Blood."
And just to make sure she gets her two cents in, Mrs. R is negotiating with Simon & Schuster to pen her own Trek memoirs. "Unlike a few other people," says Barrett, "I was there for every minute of it."
My Appointment with the Enterprise
By Ursula K. Le Guin
For years now I've had an appointment with the crew of the Enterprise, two nights a week. It's hard to remember that at first I didn't like the program. I said things like, "If Q knows everything, how can he be so stupid? And if Wesley is 15, how can he know everything?" But then I caught a rerun of "The Offspring," in which Data builds a daughter, and I was hooked.
It's been fascinating to watch Brent Spiner develop the physical and psychological subtleties of a role that might have been just another jerky android. The casting of the show was superb from the start. Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Majel Barrett brought depth and complexity to the conventionally feminine roles of Dr. Crusher, Counselor Troi and Lwaxana Troi. Many of us wish that Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) and Ens. Ro (Michelle Forbes) had stayed on board to shake things up, but at least we got Whoopi Goldberg wearing those great hats. The lead male actors, all impressive separately, were also great team players, their characters changing and deepening in relation to one another.
Worf (Michael Dorn) was my first love. That voice, Richter 6.5-that forehead-those dark, worried eyes-those ethical problems! The glimpses of Klingon dynastic struggles were like Shakespeare's plays about the kings of England, full of quarrels and treachery and kinfolk at each other's throats-just like a family Christmas. I love that stuff. Worf, caught between two worlds, was a powerful figure, tragic. Being in love with him I thought was safe, until I saw the episode in which Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) lives a whole life in 25 minutes, and then the one where he revisits his home and brother in France. Such a strong, sensitive, intelligent man, so short, so bald, so beautiful-well, so I'm a bigamist.
My favorite episode may be the one where Picard is alone with Capt. Dathon (Paul Winfield), an alien whose language is all myth and metaphor. A beautiful idea, and the way the alien's soul shone through his ugly, piggish, snouted face was magic.
The Next Generation never had a simplistic concept of Us/Nice/Real People vs. Them/Ugly/Villains. Of course, there are bad guys out there. When the Klingons turned into real people, the Romulans and Cardassians were waiting-but they keep turning into real people, too. The Borg was a great embodiment of Evil-mechanical evil, absence of souL Hence the power of the episode where Picard, the very soul of the Enterprise, became a Borg: Anybody, even the best man, can lose his soul. This is a genuinely scary idea, a mature concept. Violence, on The Next Generation, is shown as a problem, or the failure to solve a problem, never as the true solution. This is surely one reason why the show has such a following among grown women and men.
Lots of young people watch it, too, of course, and, recently, at a conference about science fiction, one of them told me why: "A lot of science fiction shows us a future just like now, only worse," she said. "I like The Next Generation because it shows us a future I could live in."
What I myself like best about it is the way it transforms vision. The best example of this magic is Geordi's visor. At fist, I saw Geordi (LeVar Burton) as a blind guy with a prosthetic device. I don't know when the transformation happened-when I began to see him, and got uncomfortable when he took his visor off. I felt this discomfort even in one dream sequence where his eyes were perfectly normal. Who cares about "normal," when what you care about is Geordi?
This is what science fiction does best. It challenges our idea of what we see as like ourselves. It increases our sense of kinship.
And it was Gene Roddenberry's legacy to a great writing and production team. Naturally fearless and innovative, Gene never stopped learning. He knew television's power to persuade by showing, and wanted to use that power well. On the Enterprise, we see the difference of racial and alien types, gender difference, handicaps, apparent deformities, all accepted simply as different ways of being human. In this, The Next Generation has been light-years ahead of its predecessors, its imitators, and practically everything else on television. The continuing mission of the Starship Enterprise has been to take us out of the smog of fear and hate into an open space where difference is opportunity, and justice matters, and you can still see the stars.
Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "A Fisherman of the Inland Sea," a collection of science-fiction short stories due this November from HarperCollins.
May 21, 1994
This Week: Hits & Misses
Reviews by Jeff Jarvis
Star Trek: The Next Generation (syndicated; check listings)-"We have to save humanity!" Patrick Stewart shouts as he travels across time to meet the challenge of the diabolical Q on this Enterprise's final flight (on TV, that is). The plot's a neat conceit; the best sci-fi always is. And it's great to see Stewart classing up all TV just once more. My score (0 to 10): 8
Red Alert! Star Trek: The Next Generation beams down its final episode this week, a two-hour installment titled "All Good Things..." Picard finds himself drifting through time, where he encounters his old nemesis Q (John de Lancie). See Close-up on p. 216.- 9 PM
Star Trek: The Next Generation (CC)
Mon. 9 PM
Tues. 7 PM
Fri. 9 PM
All Good Things...
After seven seasons, the sci-fi series warps out of the TV galaxy. As the finale begins, Picard (Patrick Stewart) is hurtling uncontrollably from the past to the present to the future and back again. It seems that a "spatial anomaly" may hold a clue to the time-tripping, and Picard sets off to investigate. But on his way, he encounters his old foe Q (John de Lancie), who informs him that humanity is doomed-and that Picard will be responsible. What Q doesn't tell him is how or why. Tasha Yar: Denise Crosby. O'Brien: Colm Meaney. Tomalak: Andreas Katsulas. (2:00)
June 4, 1994
Letters: Readers recall their faves from Trek
Cheers to your salute to Star Trek: The Next Generation ["Exit the Enterprise," May 14]! And while I really enjoyed this "Collector's Edition," I have one small complaint: You neglected to mention Diana Muldaur, who played Chief Medical Off. Katherine Pulaski during the one-season absence of Gates McFadden. I realize you couldn't name all the actors-but I just thought she should be remembered.
Why only passing mention of Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan, the bartender), and no mention of Brian Bonsall (Alexander Rozhenko, Worf's son) in your TNG tribute?
Valley Springs, Cal.
I was disappointed that Dwight Schultz, the fine actor who played Reginald Barclay in five episodes, was overlooked completely.
I find it amusing that Brent Spiner could say, "There's no getting around it-for the rest of my life I'm Data" ["The Magnificent Seven," May 14]. Years ago I wondered, "What's he gonna do next?" after seeing his hilarious recurring portrayal of the luckless and inept hillbilly Bob Wheeler on Night Court. If people were able to make the leap from Wheller to Data, he shouldn't have any problems at all.
One little thing about your super Star Trek issue: The photograph on p. 21 ["Star Guests," May 14] does not depict Mick Fleetwood as an Antedian dignitary from the 1988-89 season. It's actually an unnamed alien creature from the '92-'93 episode titled "Schisms." A minor gaffe in an otherwise flawless job.
June 11, 1994
The Best and Worst of the Year
Worthiest Enterprise: Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here's to seven stellar seasons in outer space-it was a star trip we will never forget.
The Best and Worst According to Nielsen
1. Wheel of Fortune 15.0
2. Jeopardy! 12.8
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation 11.1
4. The Oprah Winfrey Show 9.7
5. Entertainment Tonight 8.5
6. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 8.4
7. Roseanne 8.2
8. Inside Edition 7.4
Wheel of Fortune-weekend 7.4
10. Nat'l Geo. on Assignment 7.2
Letters: There oughta be a `Law'
You went a little overboard in saying goodbye to Star Trek: TNG ["Exit the Enterprise," May 14], while L.A. Law was given little more than an unenthusiastic "Oh, you're leaving? Well, see you around."
June 18, 1994
Ask TV Guide
Q Is it true that Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, is the only human ever to be "buried" in space? A.Y. Hutchinson, Kan.
A Roddenberry's cremated remains were quietly taken aboard a space-shuttle flight as a tribute to his vision of the future. The ashes weren't "scattered," though-they were returned to Earth.
By Rick Schindler
Each of these TV dads is single-but in what way? Put a "B" for bachelor, "D" for divorced, "W" for widowed.
1. Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy), The Nanny
2. Jay Sherman (voice of Jon Lovitz), The Critic
3. Harry Weston (Richard Mulligan), Empty Nest
4. Worf (Michael Dorn), Star Trek: The Next Generation
5. Duckman (voice of Jason Alexander)
6. Nick Russo (Ted Wass), Blossom
1.-W; 2.-D; 3.-W; 4.-B; 5.-W; 6.-D
July 9, 1994
`The Great Bird of the Galaxy' lands a TV bio
With two new print biographies painting markedly different pictures of Gene Roddenberry, an episode of A&E's Biography dedicated to the man who created the Star Trek universe couldn't be more timely. Like David Alexander's worshipful Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry, and Joel Engel's less flattering Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and The Man Behind Star Trek-which portrays its subject as a credit-hogging pothead-the A&E tribute (debuting Thursday, July 14, at 8 P.M./ET) also has a strong point of view. Gary H. Grossman-who, along with former Entertainment Tonight co-host Robb Weller, serves as Biography's executive producer-approached Roddenberry from the perspective of a longtime fan who eventually became a showbiz peer.
"I was always very excited about the way the original Star Trek series created science-fiction metaphors for things that were happening around us, such as the war in Vietnam and the troubles in Northern Ireland," says Grossman. "In 1972, when I was teaching at Emerson College, I wrote a very bold letter to Roddenberry and was floored when I received a reply." Grossman began using selected Star Trek episodes as springboards for discussion on current issues, and scored a big coup when he lured Roddenberry to speak at the school. Their paths crossed again when Grossman became a producer at Entertainment This Week and the two worked on the same floor at Paramount.
For Biography, Grossman and Weller secured the cooperation of Roddenberry's widow, Majel Barrett, who provided them with never-before-seen home-movie footage of her and Roddenberry's wedding in Japan, as well as other glimpses of what Grossman calls "the joy of a man who brought so much joy to others." A good deal of the show focuses on the "experiences that created Roddenberry's worldview: what he went through as a bomber pilot in World War II, as a policeman-even as a writer of TV westerns. Gene himself sad that Star Trek was merely `Wagon Train in space.'"
Providing reminiscences of Roddenberry is an impressive list from both the original series and The Next Generation, including Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart. Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, and Marina Sirtis. Conspicuous by his absence-except in archival footage-is William Shatner, who, in last year's Star Trek Memories, wrote that he and Roddenberry didn't always get along. ("Honestly," says Grossman of Shatner's absence, "it was a scheduling problem.")
Because of Grossman's obvious admiration for his personal with the Trek creator, it's a cinch he'll be accused of lobbing softballs. Naturally, he doesn't see it that way. "This is not an exposť. It's not 60 Minutes or Hard Copy. It's a look at the man from the points of view of the people who worked with him. We do acknowledge the controversy that surrounds him, but if people have been disgruntled because they felt responsible for aspects of the show's success that Gene was credited for-well, it happens a lot in this business."
Letters: Single dads in space!
I don't believe Lt. Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation ["Pop Quiz," June 18] is a "bachelor father." It's true he never wed Ambassador K'Ehleyr, but they were nonetheless espoused and he referred to her as his "mate." She was murdered, so he is a widower. Labeling other species with purely human terms only perpetuates dangerous anthropocentric attitudes.
January 7, 1995
Brent Spiner Ponders Lt. Cmdr. Data's Final Frontier
Data devotees may want to make sure they get their fill of the amiable android in the current "Star Trek: Generations" feature film. Brent Spiner tells TV Guide he doesn't "particularly want to play him anymore." In fact, he and the Next Generation captain of the Enterprise, Patrick Stewart, are the only cast members have not yet reenlisted for the next two "Trek" film installments. Still, inside sources say that both actors will probably make the "Trek" at least once more.
But Spiner's got a pragmatic point for wanting to ditch Data. "I really do think I'm getting too old for the part," says the all-too-human and 45-year-old actor. "He's a machine. How much can he age? Unfortunately, I'm getting older every day." Also stung by criticism that his big-screen Data was too silly, Spiner hopes his next jump into synthetic skin will find Data "more emotionally mature. Hopefully, by the end, he'll be finding Oscar WIlde funny." Now he's campaigning for an electronic heir. "They need a young android," Spiner says. "Somebody they'll have a good 20 years with."
Times and channels are from the Illinois-Wisconsin edition (unless otherwise indicated).
Technical design, graphic design, interactive features, HTML & CGI programming by Andrew Tong. || All materials Copyright © 1987-1995 by their respective authors. || Document created: May 28, 1994 || Last Modified: November 09, 2010