LB: A Few Words from One of My TV Gods: Herbert F. Solow

by Larry Brody

One of the kindest, toughest, gentlest, strongest, sweetest human beings I’ve ever known is my friend Herb Solow, probably better known to most people reading this as:

In case you’re from another planet, this is Herb’s Star Trek title card!

Herb and I first met in the mid 1970s, and we’ve worked and hung out together for over 40 years. Best known as one of the key figures who brought ST:TOS to TV when he was head of production at ye olde Desilu Studios, Herb also ran MGM when it still was a studio to be reckoned with back in the ’60s, and he was also Executive in Charge of Production, Executive Producer, or just plain “Producer” on TV shows and feature films whose names are bound to ring some bells:

  • The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
  • Medical Center
  • Then Came Bronson
  • Mission: Impossible
  • Mannix
  • The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.
  • Saving Grace
  • Brimstone & Treacle
  • Man from Atlantis
  • Killdozer
  • Elvis: That’s the Way It Is

And a zillion more that I don’t remember, although IMDB has a pretty fine list. Oh, while I’m at it I probably should mention his fine book – pretty damn controversial among Trekkies Trekkers – Inside Star Trek: the Real Story.

No one knows the ins and outs of showbiz politics as well as Herb, and very few people know as much as he does about development and production. Or, for that matter, about art. Herb’s the man who introduced me to the idea that you could and should live surrounded by beautiful things and gets the credit – or blame – for the crowd of antiques and art treasures I’ve been living amid ever since I saw his collection and started my own unending buying spree.

Why am I talking about all this? Primarily because I’ve just been reminded that, living treasure that he is, Herb can be found at the Emmy TV Legends where he’s featured in a 4 part video interview that’s so filled with helpful information that I insist ya’ll go visit.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to go too far. All you have to do is click on the video links below:

Hi Herb! All my best to Harrison and the rest of the fam!

Ah, TV, You Inspire Us All

Especially you, STAR TREK. What hath thou wrought?

captain's-chair-tvw.com

NSA Chief’s Former War Room was Modeled After the Starship Enterprise
by Adam Clark Estes

NSA director Keith Alexander might be the most famous spy in America right now. Everyone wants to know who’s really behind the agency’s widespread snooping. And now, a lengthy profile of Alexander in Foreign Policy invites even more intrigue. It also reveals some of the general’s weird ways.

The core questions raised about Alexander the “cowboy” in the FP story stem from revelations in Edward Snowden’s leak of confidential NSA documents earlier this summer. “Cowboy” doesn’t quite cut it, though. Alexander sounds a bit more eccentric than that:

When he was running the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprisefrom Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a “whoosh” sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather “captain’s chair” in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.

“Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard,” says a retired officer in charge of VIP visits.

Read it all

Shake Hands with *Real* STAR TREK Tech

Ah, Gene Roddenberry, what hast thou created?

Just about everything cool, apparently.

Whoa:

Navigraphic Shows Us How Close We Are To Technology From Star Trek
by Amy Ratcliffe

star trek navigraphic

Even though we’ve made some significant leaps and bounds in technology since Star Trek first premiered, we’ve got a long way to go before we can travel through space like the Enterprise. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing medical tricorders, phasers, and transporters were real. musicMagpie has created an interactive Star Trek Navigraphic to explore the inventions of the series and also to examine how far away we are from achieving similar advances.

You can board three replicas of bridges from various Enterprises – each one was created using Paramount’s archive images and footage. You’ll learn about hyposprays, Geordi LaForge’s visor, and much more.

Read it all

Lucky LB, who got to work with Roddenberry, learn from Roddenberry, hang with Roddenberry. Hell, our Leader even got paid by Roddenberry!

And, yes, he teases us with a little about it HERE.

munchman: Best Science Fiction TV Show of All Time?

star_trek_vs_dr__who_by_summerset-d38sqgc

Created by ~Summerset for Wizard Magazine & Found on Deviant Art

For my money (of which I have very little), one of the two shows represented in this amazing drawing is the best sci-fi series ever. And the other is…um, well, erm…also the best sci-fi series ever.

Kirk and the Doctor! (Oh, and some other guyz too.)

If only….

John Ostrander: Revamp, Reinterpret, Regenerate, Reinvigorate

On makin’ the old wine new:

Ostrander Art 130303 John Ostrander: Revamp, Reinterpret, Regenerate, Reinvigorate by John Ostrander

There’s been a lot of pushing the reset button in pop culture recently and I find the results interesting. J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise a few years back and, while some fans complained, I think it was successful. Certainly it was financially successful, which is what the Hollywood moguls really care about.

At the start of Daniel Craig’s run, the James Bond movies were also rebooted, culminating in the recent spectacular Skyfall, which – again this may be heresy to some – was the best Bond film ever. It’s visually stunning and takes Bond himself to greater depths and heights than I’ve seen up until now.

Sherlock Holmes has been reinterpreted into the modern age with two versions, the BBC’s magnificent Sherlock and Elementary on CBS. Both are true to the basics and it’s amazing how well the classic fictional detective gibes with modern times.

Of course, we’ve witnessed DC’s rebirth with the New 52. Again, you can argue as to whether it is artistically successful but I don’t think you can argue that it hasn’t been financially successful thus far. This summer will see a movie rebooting of Superman with Man of Steel. The Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy rebooted that cinematic history as The Amazing Spider-man did with that character’s movie version. X-Men: First Class reimagined Marvel’s mutants and so on. The next Star Wars chapter and the announced Star Wars solo films, while they will undoubtedly respect the previous movies, will probably play hob with what is known as the Extended Universe, the complex continuity that has sprung up around the films via novels, comics, games and more. Depending on how they turn out, that may not be a bad idea.

All my professional comic book writing career, I’ve played with and enjoyed continuity. I respect it but I don’t worship it and I don’t think it is cast in stone. Sometimes, continuity becomes like barnacles on the bottom of a boat and need to be scraped off in order to make the boat (or the franchise) sea/see worthy again.

One of the most successful franchises is the BBC’s Doctor Who and part of its longevity (it celebrates 50 years this year) is its ability to change the actor who is playing the Doctor. It’s built into the series; the Doctor is an alien being who regenerates from time to time into virtually a new character, played by a different actor. The new Doctor doesn’t look, act, dress or sound like any of the other incarnations. The re-invention is a part of the continuity and that’s very clever.

I think this is very healthy; characters and concepts can and should be re-examined and re-imagined for the times in which they appear. They have to speak to and reflect concerns that its current public has if they are going to remain vital and alive.

Can it be overdone or badly done? Absolutely. Some remakes get so far from what the character is about that they might as well be a different character altogether. You want to take a look at the essence of the character, what defines them, and then see how you get back to that, interpreting it for current audiences. Some folks revamp something for the sake of revamping or to put their stamp on the character. I don’t think that usually works very well. Change what needs changing, certainly, but be true to the essentials of the character or concept.

Have I always done that? I don’t think so; when I was given Suicide Squad, I didn’t go back to the few stories that were originally published and work from that. I created a new concept for the title. However, I did reference the old stories and kept them a part of continuity, albeit re-interpreting them. I think we played fair with the old stories.

On The Spectre, Tom Mandrake and I took elements from as many past versions of the character as we could while getting down to what we felt were the essentials. Really, our biggest change was not the Spectre himself but his alter-ego, Jim Corrigan. Originally, he was plainclothes detective in the 30s and our version reflected that. I think that was a key to our success.

Even with my own character GrimJack, after a certain point I drop kicked the character at least 100 years down his own timeline into (shades of the Doctor) a new incarnation. I gave him a new supporting cast and the setting changed as well. It made the book and the character fresh again and made me look at it with new eyes.

The old stories will continue to exist somewhere; they just won’t be part of the new continuity. At some point, that new continuity will be changed as well as the concepts and characters are re-interpreted for a newer audience. That way they’ll remain fresh and alive. Otherwise, they’ll just become fossilized and dead. Who wants that?

Nicholas Meyer Talks About Screenwriting

And we certainly can’t think of many people who might be considered as qualified.

nick-meyer

 Since writing the best-selling novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (still one of, if not the best of the Sherlock Holmes pastiches), Nick has written the screenplays or teleplays for:

  • TIME AFTER TIME
  • STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
  • THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN (ON FAERIE TALE THEATRE)
  • COMPANY BUSINESS
  • STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
  • SOMMERSBY
  • VOICES
  • THE INFORMANT

And on and on and on. So we’re definitely all ears about what he has to say in this video:

CBS Joining Forces with Hulu

For those who can’t get enough of CBS’s tired old “for over 40s only programming,” the network and Hulu have announced a licensing agreement which will allow Hulu Plus subscribers to stream thousands of episodes of series like MEDIUM, NUMB3RS, CSI: MIAMI, STAR TREK, I LOVE LUCY, TWILIGHT ZONE, and mucho mas.

According to Andy Forssell, Senior V.P. of Content for Hulu, ““CBS has a long history of producing truly great TV. Hulu Plus subscribers are entertainment lovers who spend their time watching shows they love, versus shows they might only just like.  Those two facts make for a fantastic combination, because this collection of CBS titles are shows that people revere and that really matter to fans of great TV like our subscribers.”

You’re right, Andy, absolutely. Us crazy, web surfing CBS lovin’ kids just can’t wait to see shows that were old before our parents were born…especially shows like, oh, MEDIUM, NUMB3RS, CSI: MIAMI, STAR TREK, I LOVE LUCY, and TWILIGHT ZONE that we can get, and have gotten, for free in a thousand and one other places.

Good thinking, dood. Hope you’ve got yourself a fallback gig lined up. (Or was that part of this deal from the get-go? Hmm?)