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The Roddenberry Archive

The big annual Creation Star Trek convention is going on this weekend in Las Vegas. Although I think they lost the Star Trek license so it’s just the “56-Year Mission,” wink wink.

The last time I was at one of these was, wow, ten years ago, when La-La Land was publicizing their then-upcoming TOS 15CD box set.

I remember going through security at the Burbank airport and seeing Connor Trinneer (Trip from Enterprise), who was, of course, going as well. I made conversation with him—he met up with Dominic Keating (Malcolm) at the gate—and because it was Southwest, I sat next to them on the flight. Nice guys!

I like going to conventions to catch up with people I haven’t seen in ages, but I was always put-off (since I was a teenager) by Creation’s format. It seems so transparently commercial—buy buy buy!!!—that I always found it...well, just not my style.

One of the most intriguing Star Trek merchandising projects in the works is “The Roddenberry Archive” from Rod Roddenberry (Gene’s son) and OTOY. It’s like a combination documentary and multimedia “experience” that involves C-G recreations from the show:

There’s also this video (below) from a few months ago. They found a lookalike model for Yeoman Colt that confused me because she looks exactly like Laurel Goodwin.

She’s Mahé Thaissa, by the way (that’s a great Star Trek name). But maybe they morphed her face to look like Goodwin?

The Deep Faking they can do now is incredible, and only getting better. Creepy!

In the video at the top of this column, one of three about the making of “The Cage,” I learned something I had not heard, from director Robert Butler.

Roddenberry has always wanted DeForest Kelley to play the ship’s doctor, but Butler vetoed him to cast John Hoyt as Dr. Boyce. Butler says it was one of the arguments that he won when making “The Cage.”

Okay, so obviously Roddenberry was right, and Butler was wrong—but it’s not that simple.

And I think I had heard that before—about Roddenberry always wanting Kelley, and it took three tries to get him—but not the reason why.

As Butler explains, Kelley was younger than Hoyt and more like a leading man himself—meaning the dynamic between Hunter and Kelley would not have been right. Kelley would have distracted from Hunter.

I think this is true. One of the things you learn when casting is that it’s not about getting each part right in isolation—it’s about the tapestry that they form, together. So you don’t want actors who look too similar to each other (unless they’re supposed to be related).

Kelley and Shatner are a good contrast, but Kelley and Hunter—with their gleaming, light blue eyes and moments of fierce intensity—would have been redundant.

The truth is, Jeffrey Hunter’s wife pulling Hunter from the part of Pike after the first pilot—apparently without Hunter’s knowledge—is the single luckiest thing that happened in the history of Star Trek.

Hunter just wasn’t the right casting for the captain. He’s a leading man, but too intense and angry. He’s not having fun.

Shatner was, truly, perfect and utterly unique—a rare leading man who had a boyish twinkle and humor as well as the requisite heroic qualities.

Hunter is strong, but exhausting. Shatner is infinitely weird and interesting.

By the way, I remember briefly meeting Bob Butler when I was at a Shirley Walker scoring session for Turbulence at Paramount in 1997.

I remember thinking, “Holy crap, that guy directed ‘The Cage’’!”

What I also remember from that session is that Alyssa Milano stopped by—her dad, Tom Milano, was the music editor.

I don’t want to expound on this because the Internet is full of guys making creepy comments about women. But I just want to say, purely as a matter of aesthetics, being in the same room as Alyssa Milano was a very memorable experience!

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