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Long, Strange Road

Driving back to the condo after finishing my interview with William Shatner I had this moment of dislocation and disbelief.  I remembered being the little girl who first watched the Enterprise sail across my TV screen back in the nineteen sixties.  For the first time the pictures in my mind as I read Heinlein and Norton were tangible, something I could see.  I fell in love with Kirk and Spock and Bones.

Flash forward to 2012 where I found myself seated across from the only true captain of the Starship Enterprise.  I didn’t know what to expect when I went in for that interview.  I wasn’t certain of the focus of the documentary.  Truthfully what I expected was a puff piece with softball questions.

I was wrong.  Mr. Shatner (I suppose I can call him Bill since we bonded over horses but more about that later) was an incisive interviewer with thought provoking and at times uncomfortable questions that stopped me, and had me considering my stances and opinions.  What he is creating is almost Shakespearian in scope about power, the loss of power.  Vision versus entertainment.  

Bill has this voice that is like dark velvet.  The depth of the baritone resonance doesn’t totally come across when you hear him on film.  He is very soft spoken as he sets out these tricky questions.  Apparently some of what I had to impart was new information, and I was able to speak to the decency of Maurice Hurley, the man who bought Measure, and gave me my start in Hollywood.  I was glad for that.  I was also able to talk about Michael Wagner, the forgotten man of Star Trek.  The man who was an executive producer, and in charge of the writers for six short, tumultuous weeks.  A man who quit over principle.  I hope some of that is in the documentary.

Silly little things from the day.  I learned that you can’t wear Bare Minerals on camera.  There is too much mica in the makeup.  My makeup artist wears it in real life, but had to wipe it away and redo my makeup because of the glitter.

After the interview the crew was breaking for lunch, and Bill invited me to stay and join them.  I was thrilled to do so.  We talked about horses — he owns the top reining horse in the country, and he shows him himself.  He talked about the bonding of two living beings.  He teased his charming assistant who had no horses when she started to work for him and now she has two.  He invited me to come and see him show his horse.  I will be there.  I love reining.  It’s sort of a Western version of dressage.  Oh, and Bill knows all about dressage.  He and his wife breed Dobermans.  You can tell he’s crazy about animals.

Like all successful actors he is enormously charming with that ability to focus totally on a person.  He keeps his eyes locked on yours, but unlike some actors I’ve known he listens.  Intently and with great intensity.

Lunch ended, and he went in for the next interview after bidding farewell and giving me a sincere thank you.  I climbed in my car, left The Lot, and started driving back to Woodland Hills.  And that’s when it struck me — how had the dreaming sci fi girl ended up a writer?  Ended up seated across from a cultural icon.  Working on a show with such wide appeal, something that has also been a cultural phenomenon. 

It’s been a long strange journey, and I’m happy to report it doesn’t seem to be over yet.  I’m excited to see the next act in screenplay of my life.

0 Responses to Long, Strange Road

  • JaniceG says:

    Glad you had such a great experience and that Shatner deserves his status as an icon.

  • MelindaS says:

    You never know with actors, but it turns out this man is very smart and very thoughtful. I know he was apparently an ego maniac back in the Trek days, but he’s sort of a Star Trek elder statesman now. He really did put me on the spot a few times because he asks follow up questions. He should handle political debates. 🙂

  • Luke Allen says:

    It is truly fascinating where life takes us, and whose lives intersect with ours, whether locally or remotely. Growing up as a geek in Albuquerque, identifying with Data and envying his friendship with Geordi, I never thought I’d become a public speaker on Asperger Syndrome and the issues people like me face, or that I’d spend my free time writing fan fiction for (of all things) My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.

    It’s amazing how people with vision influence us. When Lauren Faust recreated Hasbro’s toy franchise as a high fantasy sitcom with dramatic season caps, she changed something fundamental about gender politics and childrens’ entertainment. In ten years, we will look back on this series and wonder why there was ever such a thing as “girls’ television” – a place for the hacks and the coulda-beens to poorly animate their shattered dreams away with twee voices and silly plots.

    Tears of the Singers is one of my favorite Trek novels, next to Death Count and Uhura’s Song. I was surprised and gladdened to find out that someoone from New Mexico was a writer – I had never heard of the thriving SF writing community this state has. And tonight I just found out you also wrote my favorite episode of TNG, the absolutely amazing Measure Of A Man, which has helped me to cope with my Asperger Syndrome. I found out just in time to get tickets to the local screening at Century 14 Downtown.

    I have a request of you. I would dearly love to see you write an episode or more of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. I believe you have the heart the series requires in its writers, and the vision to write a powerful and moving story. The series is available on Netflix – watch it with children if you have any available, but watch it to see childrens’ fantasy done right. (Actually, my golden dream is to see a licensed YA novel by you, but one step at a time.)

  • MelindaS says:

    Thank you, Luke, for your very kind words about Tears and Measure. While I am horse crazy I don’t think I’d be very good writing for a children’s show. I think it takes a special gift to write YA or children’s television, and I think I lack those skills.

    And there’s nothing wrong with fanfic. I’m writing a Mass Effect story because I was so angry and devastated over the ending of that game that I wanted to do it right. So write and have fun, and keep up the good work you do.

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