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'Star Trek' Memories

Date: 01-10-10
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Nicholas Meyer, Paul Milo

Ian Punnett welcomed Oscar nominated screenwriter and director Nicholas Meyer (book link), discussed his secrets to crafting great stories and shared what it was like working with 'Kirk' and 'Spock' on the Starship Enterprise. Despite being closely associate with a number of famous science-fiction films, Meyer stressed that he is most engaged by the story, itself, rather than the genre in which it belongs. He defined a great story as one that "justifies itself," where "once you've heard it, you understand why I wanted to tell it to you."

The director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan recounted the philosophical differences he had with Trek creator Gene Roddenberry during the making of the film. Meyer explained that he envisioned the Enterprise crew as a military organization, such as the Navy, while Roddenberry saw them more as a peacekeeping mission. "He had his own sort of Utopian vision of the future and of the perfectibility of man," Meyer said of Roddenberry, "and I always was curious as to where the evidence for that was, based on the story so far." Ultimately, Meyer's concept of how to portray the crew prevailed and he tailored much of the film around that idea as seen in the naval-inspired costumes worn by the characters which was a stark difference from their previous attire.

Discussing his work with the various Trek actors, he revealed that his relationship with Leonard Nimoy was often plagued by misunderstandings as "for some reason, he made me feel or act clumsy." Regarding William Shatner, Meyer dispelled the public perception that Shatner was egotistical, noting that, off-stage, he was very engaging and didn't need to be the center of attention. On Ricardo Montalban, who played the infamous villain Kahn, Meyer recalled that he was initially worried about trying to direct the accomplished actor. However, those fears were alleviated after he approached Montalban with notes about his performance and was greeted with the response, "you're going to direct me? That's really good, I need direction. I have no idea what I'm doing up there."

'Dead Wrong' Predictions

In the fourth hour, writer Paul Milo (book link) talked about incorrect predictions of the 20th century such as flying cars, underwater cities, and tourist trips to the moon. While we have seen some incremental steps towards these predictions becoming a reality, Milo said, it was once believed that such advances were going to be "not just possible, but all over the place." He cited a variety of reasons why these advancements have failed to come to fruition, noting that the flying car, itself, can be created, but there is no infrastructure to mass market the vehicle. Milo was not wholly pessimistic about seeing such fantastic devices eventually becoming a part of our lives, musing that "in two years, my dead wrong prediction can be dead right."

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