15:44:38 on October 04 2001
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By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Enterprise | www.stenterprise.com
The Star Trek: Communicator sent TrekWeb an advance copy of its latest issue, an ENTERPRISE special weighing in at over 20 pages more than the average issue and including interviews with just about everyone involved in the new series. The issue, #135, will be in subscribers' mail boxes and on newsstands soon, but in the mean time, TrekWeb has surveyed the mag to provide you with a choice preview of what's inside, cover to cover.
Perhaps one of the most visually pleasing issues of the mag in recent history, the ENTERPRISE issue #135 is chock full of full-page, vibrantly colorful images. One of the first features includes shots of STAR TREK creator Gene Roddenberry with Leonard Nimoy on the set of the first TREK pilot, THE CAGE. Other photos of the "Great Bird of the Galaxy" abound throughout this introductory editorial by Matthew F. Saunders tracing the history of the franchise and reminding us of the great man to whom it is all owed.
Next is a colorful full-page spread Timeline placing ENTERPRISE within the TREK mythos and including photos from various era including THE ANIMATED series, THE MOTION PICTURE, and all the previous series.
First up is the STAR TREK Update by Dan Madsen with executive producer Rick Berman, who offers some new insights into the development of ENTERPRISE and STAR TREK: NEMESIS, which goes before cameras November 28th. Here are some of the more interesting excerpts from the interview:
As you were developing ENTERPRISE, did you have to familarize yourself more with THE ORIGINAL SERIES and some of the history that came before that show and what was said on that show regardnig early STAR TREK history?
"Since we were dealing with a period which was a hundred years before Captain Kirk, all we really had to do was be sure that we weren't stepping on any of the historical toes. When we came to various areas that looked like they could be problematic, we went to people like Dave Rossi and Mike Okuda and got input from them that helped us to navigate the direction we should go in. We were sensitive to the historical accuracy issues."
You were really in development on ENTERPRISE for almost two years. What, for you, was the most time-consuming aspect of that two-year development?
"Convincing certain people that going back in time was a better choice than going forward. There were some people who felt that that was a mistake. They felt that if we were going to change centuries then we should be going forward in time. There was a lot of effort that went into sticking to our guns and convincing, through research and a lot of discussions, that this was the right idea. We just kept at it, and, in the end, the people we needed to convince were very helpful and open-minded and, finally, ended up joiningg us in the enthusiasm of the direction of the project."
Do you think Gene Roddenberry would like the concept you and your team have developed for ENTERPRISE?
I would like to think that he would like what we are doing. I try to always do what I think Gene would be proud of. In this case, I think, unlike DEEP SPACE NINE and VOYAGER, where circumstances called for our crew to be in places where they didn't necessarily want to be, this series harkens back to the theme of the original series. In the last two series we have shows where we had our characters sitting on a Cardassian space station, which is not exactly the place they wanted to be, and another series where our characters were on a ship trying to find their way home. With the new series, ENTERPRISE, we have a show where people are off exploring. I think we also have a series now where the enthusiasm of exploration returned because they are the first to go out there. I believe that there is a lot of the original series enthusiasm and excitement and sense of newness and humor that hasn't bquite existed really since THE NEXT GENERATION and, maybe even in some ways, since the original series."
The rest of the Berman interview covers previously known knowledge about STAR TREK X (NEMESIS), including praise for director Stuart Baird and speculation about the dates of production and release which have now been dealt with in Paramount releases.
One of the most entertaining interviews comes from ENTERPRISE co-creator and executive producer Brannon Braga (written by Larry Nemecek), who talks about fan criticism of himself personally and talks in detail about his love for his new characters on ENTERPRISE:
"Hey, I had to fight for that earpiece [of Hoshi's]-- Rick was not sure about it!" he reveals taking the bait. "And the design of the bridge, to some degree. I felt very strongly that it should have a sunken central captain's cahir that swivels, kinda with a Kirk flair. And there were lots of others--I thought very strongly that the communicator should flip open (ala its '60s ancestor)."
But it's not secret that some fans aren't convinced, and were holding their collective breaths when it was annocuned the fifth seres would focus on earlier history--a time the led into the classic series' era.
"Yeah, I've taken a lashing from the fans," he says, taking the issue head-on. "But just for the record, here's how that started. I think there was a period about eight years ago when I made some stupid comments, in one or two interviews, about never having seen an episode of the original series -- which was true. And in face, when I first started here, when Gene Roddenberry was still alive, he said to me, 'Don't watch the original series/ If you haven't seen it, don't watch.' And I said why? And he said, 'Because you will bring something fresh to the table' -- because he was very adamant that TNG not be the original series, and not re-do anything. So I was, like, 'Fine.'
"And then it became a novelty: I was a STAR TREK writer not familar with the original series - which *I* thought was a novelty, but the fans too offense at that. Well, of course, now -- eight years later -- I HAVE seen most of them, and I've always had a great affection for it, and I know it very, very well. And I know what people like about it. So when it came to certain details of this show... there were lots of original series details that came from me.
"So," he adds with a laugh, "the fans are going to have to ease up a little, now!"
But Braga knows there is still lingering doubt out there. "There are some fans who think Rick Berman and I should be hung out to dry, and that new people should come in," he adds. "And on some level, they're right -- some fresh creative vision might be a good thing. But it's my belief that Rick and I are the perfect guys to do this because we know every single episode of STAR TREK, we know exactly what STAR TRE has been, and what is should NOT be -- we know all the things that don't work. And I think that we've really created a show that is going to be very much the essence of STAR TREK, but very, very fresh."
"Initially we started talking about [a setting of] the great Starfleet pioneers, traipsing around in the mud building starships, which started us talking about what it meant to get a ship in the air," he recalls. "It really began as a much more rustic concept. And then over the course of two years, we came to a lot of realizations. We realized that it had to be a ship show -- it could not be an Earth-bound show. DEEP SPACE NINE was a station-bound show, and VOYAGER was a ship show about going back to Earth. We thought it was time to doa show about going OUT THERE again."
"I love exploring as much as the next person; I love scuba-diving -- I remember getting certified as a scuba diver," he says. "But when I went on my first night dive, I was scared out of my wits! There were schools of lobsters and weird creatures that only out at night -- and I only had a flashlight. I thought I was going to have a panic attack! And that's a good analogy for these people -- it's all new to them."
Although lots of ideas are in the mix, Braga lets it be known that ENTERPRISE -- as with all past debuting Treks -- has no strict overarching plan for now, leaving lots of room to improvise both in story as well as background.
"Yeah, you don't want to figure out everything, every detail -- you want to figure out 25% of it and leave 75% of it to inspiration as you go," he says. "But we know where a lot of things stand... We're hoping that the fans enjoy watching the genesis of STAR TREK, and enjoy the characters, and maybe the non-TREK fans might enjoy the show 'cause you don't have to know much. You'll appreciate it MORE if you're a fan, but if not then you really don't have to know anything because it's all laid out for you. It's a very good way to break into STAR TREK."
"We're planning on doing much more recurring crewman; we're not going to do the 'extras of the week' as much. We've already got one character who might be back...'
"I think maybe chef -- his name is Chef, they call him Chef -- we might play Chef as the kinda guy you never see but always hear about [ala DS9's 'Morn'], like 'Carlton your Doorman' (the intercom voice from the sitcom RHODA). But we'll see." He pauses, and then deadpans: "A STAR TREK novel will be written about Chef."
"My dictum has always been 'Fun to write, fun to watch,'" he adds. "If I'm writing a script and it's a chore, then it's not going to be very much fun to watch. And STAR TREK is at a place where, after 600 episodes, it needs to keep surprising the audience. And if we're feeling stale, it IS stale."
One last poser -- and you might almost call it a trick question: what about Romulans?
"Well, we very much want to do Romulans," he begins, a big smile betraying that he's on to it. "But the problem with Romulans is in the original series it's established that no humans or even Vulcans had seen Romulans. So for Archer to see Romulans would be... a *breach of continuity*" -- you can tell he enjoys saying that, for the doubting Thomases -- "so we're gonna have to figure that one out."
On the same pages as this interview, Braga and Berman talk about the inspiration for some of the names in the new series. Braga reveals that Archer's first name was changed from Jackson to Jonathan because only one man in America actually has the name Jackson Archer; he says that although T'Pol was changed from a younger version of the TOS character T'Pau, "we could still find out T'Pol is related to T'Pau... We might, I dunno." He says 'Trip' is short of "Third" as in "Charles Tucker III", Phlox was the unspoken name of a character Joe Menosky created for VOYAGER's "Tinker, Tenor, Doctory, Spy", Mayweather is the name of Braga's favorite boxer, Hoshi Sato got her name off a list of Japanese names, Reed sounds very British though he cannot recall where the name came from, and Braga's nephew's dog's name is 'Porthos'. Brannon also confirms that three admirals in the pilot were named after the original series triumverate of actors -- Williams, Forrest, and Leonard -- Farmer Moore is a nod to Brannon's friend Ronald D. Moore and "Broken Bow" sounds cool and goes well with "Archer". Berman also reveals that 'Suliban' was inspired by the Taliban in Afghanistan long before the events of September 11th.
The issue goes on to feature interviews with the entire cast, starting with Scott Bakula:
"My biggest fear coming here was that the [stage] crew that's been here forever, and had just rolled over the last huge VOYAGER episode and had a week off and were back shooting the pilot, would be, like, 'Yeah, just get in the chair, whatever, and we'll shoot you.' But they are so jazzed and excited... it's been great so far."
If Archer is to be the closest thing to the bare-knuckled Kirk since James T. himself, that equals a lot of what Hollywood calls "running and jumping." "I just heard that I get my ass kicked in the next episode, actually!" Bakula laughs (in "The Andorian Incident"). "It's pretty physical. And they're enjoying writing to that... the pilot was very physical.
The Hollywood trade papers reported in May that the actor had been seeking greater creative input into his captain than past TREK leads, but today he waves that off as untrue.
"The only creative stake I have i nit is I want it to be as good as it can be," he emphasizes. "Rick and Brannon and I talk about character and plot and all that stuff, but not in any kind of a 'veto power' way."
If fans don't see him in person or online right away, this asured veteran of the Leapers' conventions asks for their patience. "I have no plans right now," he smiles. "My goal right now is to give everything I can to each episode and really get the show off to a great start, promote that, and let everybody get their feet underneath them. Then we'll see where everything else takes us. I want to deliver a great show and hopefully a great captain and continue the tradition."
After a full-page ad for the magazine's NX-01 baseball cap and embroidered t-shirt, is John Billingsley:
"When I auditioned, they told me to come in with 'a slight alien accent.' OK, so what the hell is that?" Billingsley's laugh carries loudly before he continues. "So I tried a certain cadence as they have in the Far East and I made my voice very plummy, then sometimes I would toss in this pretty loud 'Squak!'
"I got the part, and nobody said anything about what I did," Billingsley says and laughs again. "So I was doing this scene, and I'm talking and I let loose this 'Squak!' And the director said 'Cut'. He asked me about the squak and I said, 'I've been doing it with the squak since the get-go.' He looked at me and said, 'No, we're not going with the squak.'"
After the full-spread pull-out poster of one of the season one cast photos, the interviews pick up with Jolene Blalock, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park, and Connor Trinneer. Due to the length of these interviews, I cannot afford the time to reprint portions of them here.
The next large feature is the behind-the-scenes personnel. First up is Herman Zimmerman written by Jeff Bond. Spanning several pages and including concept sketches of the launch bay, the shuttle pods, the bridge, engineering, and sickbay.
"For a while we were actually going to have a ship that looked very similar to the original motion picture Enterprise, and somewhere along the line after having amde a very sweet-looking ship we decided that it was too right on, it was too close to the original. We needed something that the Motion Picture starship would be derivative of, but not a carbon copy of it. So we went to several different styles of combinations of nacelles and saucers and engineering sections and airframes, and we decided to eliminate the engineering section as a separate entity and make it part of the hull. Brannon and Rick decided they didn't want a ship that would separate; that would be something that would happen some time in the future."
Next, makeup supervisor Michael Westmore reveals that he's strictly into design this time around -- not the daily makeup for the regulars. Westmore actually comments that one reason for limited makeup with Doctor Phlox is that he's "part human" -- but presumabley this detail has been scrubbed. He also reveals that the texture for the Suliban was inspired from a CGI-generated texture he saw in a magazine.
Costume designer Robert Blackman goes into detail about the design of the costumes from Starfleet to Suliban to Vulcan and Klingon, and visual effects producer Dan Curry talks about reinventing the transporter effect and the addition of an in-house CG artist (Doug Drexler) to the FX team this time around.
The issue also features an interview with Astronaut Fred Haise, who piloted the Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1977 on its Approach and Landing Test mission, after launching from the top of the 747 that was carrying it 7300 meters up. There are photos of the original series crew visiting the Shuttle Enterprise in 1976 and a final round-up feature that presents dossiers on STAR TREK's now-five Starfleet Captains.
Pick up your special ENTERPRISE issue of the STAR TREK COMMUNICATOR on newsstands soon!
Star Trek Communicator -- 6 issues
See Also: STENTERPRISE.com Mission Logs