Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Boldly tagging along where no man has gone before...
HALLIE EPHRON: Confession: I've been a Star Trek fan for, ahem, decades. Loved all the series. All the movies. If you recognize the quote, then maybe you're a Trekkie (or Trekker), too?
Recently Idiscovered a kindred spirit in Ellen Kozak. An attorney, Ellen is an expert on all things publishing and a published author herself of (among other things) Every Writers Guide to Copyright and Publishing Law as well as two pseudonymous science fiction novels.
But in her dark and tangled past, she was a journalist who had the good fortune of going to Star Trek Movie premieres for Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock and (SO jealous) hanging out with... well I'll let her tell you.
ELLEN KOZAK: Through some connections at a local newspaper, I was able to get onto the press junkets for both movies. It meant not only seeing the movies before anyone else did, but also getting to interview the actors and director and producer in assigned groups during the next two days. Needless to say, I attended every interview session.
HALLIE: Who did you get to hang out with?
ELLEN: In the interviews, I met and got to quiz all the cast members, but because I'd been on the set of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and had attended a few Star Trek conventions, I knew several of them already.
There was a dinner in the studio commisary (which was unrecognizable once it was all dressed up with tablecloths and china) just before the showing of Wrath of Khan, and I sat at with DeForest Kelley and his wife Carolyn (both of them smoking like chimneys-- I guess that's how he stayed so thin, and he was VERY thin!).
I think I was the only journalist who bothered to go to ALL the interviews; the others primarily stuck with the principals and then headed for the bar or wherever.
The last interview of the day was with Kirstie Alley (who was young, and thin, and unknown, and played a Vulcan) and Merritt Buttrick, who played Kirk's son David. De Kelley happened to pass me in the hall and asked where I was going, and when I told him, he teased, "I'd better come along and warn them that you're dangerous." So he did, and then the four of us sat and drank the free Paramount booze in the suite for the rest of the afternoon.
At Search for Spock, I sat right in front of De and Carolyn for the screening. This time, there was a party afterwards, and I ran into Merritt there. I told him that I was sorry his character had been killed off, and he bent me over backwards in a fake Rudolph Valentino kiss. I was wearing false eyelashes, and when I got back to my room, I realized that I was missing an eyelash, and I couldn't figure out where it could have come off, and then I remembered he'd been wearing a bulky-knit Irish fisherman sweater, and I'm sure it wound up in his sweater.
At one of the Wrath of Khan press conferences, some journalist in my group asked De a question about the original series, and he said, "I don't remember-- why don't we ask Ellen? She knows." And I did! So then I had sort of celebrity status among the journalists, and they'd all come up and ask me questions if they wanted some background information.
HALLIE: I love that you call DeForest De. Who knew?
ELLEN: Actually, the name DeForest was a family name-- he was related to Lee DeForest, the inventor-- but everyone called him De.
He would wax garrulous in his cups, and would tell wonderful stories. One, which I wish I'd taken down because I've forgotten the details, was about how he and George Reeves (my first crush, and De was a later one, before he became a friend), were driving together to some location shoot right after they were mustered out of the service after WWII.
That was, of course, before "superhighways," so they were wending their way through Nevada stopping at every bar to ask directions (and imbibe). Wish I could have been a fly in the inner windshield of that car!
HALLIE: I got hooked on Star Trek as a kid. Did you?
ELLEN: I came late to Star Trek, in re-runs in the mid to late 70s. (I bought my first TV-- a small black and white portable-- to take to my office the morning of August 9, 1974, to watch Nixon resign). My secretary was a Star Trek fan, and once I had the TV, I watched it a couple of Saturday afternoons while I was cleaning the house to see why she liked it, and I got hooked.
My first piece of completed fiction was a Star Trek short story about Spock in old age, called "Indian Summer of a Vulcan" (yes, with the allusion to Galsworthy). I'd always been able to make people laugh with my writing, but with that story, I let some other fans read it at a ST convention in Columbus, and I watched a dozen people, male and female, passing the pages along and, when they got to the end, bursting into tears-- the guys were fighting it, and one turned red as he tried not to, and I thought, "I CAN do this."
Gene Roddenberry's assistant Susan Sackett was at that same convention, and I gave her the manuscript to read that night, and the next morning she brought it up to my room, saying "It was wonderful-- I cried so hard I lost your paperclip," which only another writer would understand is high praise indeed.
In fact, that short story convinced my agent to take me on (I almost got to write a Star Trek novel, but the editor who was going to buy it left, so it never got published). So Star Trek has done a lot for me-- including seeing me through some tough times. My favorites were the original series and Voyager, but I like them all.
HALLIE: The mysteries of the missing eyelash and paperclip. Love it!
Reds, any Star Trek fans out there? Favorite series? Favorite good guys? Favorite bad guys?
Favorite series: Next Generation
Favorite good guys: Jean-Luc Picard and Data
Favorite bad guys: Q and Khan