Archive for the ‘Star Trek’ Category

TOP TEN POP CULTURE MEMORIES OF 2009

December 21, 2009

Credit where credit is due: Whitney Matheson of USA Today’s Pop Candy blog put together a list of her Top Ten Pop Culture Memories of the past year, which included parties, screenings and concerts.  Loved the idea,  so I copied the idea. Here we go…

10.  “THE AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS”:

Not quite as fun as the 2008 version, when I hung out during the show with friends who were hunting autographs and photos to impress their kids in the dressing room hallway. We  spotted such stars as Mariah Carey, the Jonas Brothers and Coldplay, who were more than happy to pose.

Still, the AMA’s make the list because this is the year I realized that with a Production Pass, you could just take an empty seat in the back of the hall during the show. But that wasn’t good enough for one of my friends who used to help coordinate the audiences for big events like this. He asked one of the staff to sit us in the front row for a while, and while we only made it to the third row (they were saving the empty front row seats for Marc Anthony as his wife Jennifer Lopez was about to perform), we still were darn close for J. Lo and Whitney Houston…

9.  “THE AMAZING RACE”:

I had the chance to spend a week in Dubai this year, so I loved seeing the two episodes of the Race that were shot in the Emirates. Like the contestants, I visited the Burj Dubai, the Gold Souk, the indoor ski resort Ski Dubai and the Madinat Jumeriah resort. I didn’t make it to that fateful water slide, but unlike Mika, I would have went down it if I had…

8.  “THE ACM ALL STAR JAM”:

While I was in Las Vegas to work on the event you’ll read about at  # 2, I got a chance to attend “The Academy Of Country Music Awards.” And while it was a great show, the real winner was the one that wasn’t on TV. Every year the ACM hosts an informal concert right after the Awards in a ballroom at the MGM Grand. And while I missed an appearance by Kenny Chesney because of a late dinner, I really enjoyed what I did see, including John Rich, the Zac Brown Band and best of all, the newly crowned Entertainer Of The Year, Carrie Underwood in the most no holds barred performance I’ve ever seen her give…

7.  THE “TERMINATOR SALVATION” PRESS DAY:

For years, I’ve been filling a copy of “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told” with the autographs of everyone who has added to the legend of the Dark Knight, whether in comics, movies or television. So far I have fifty autographs (including the late Bob Kane, the creator of Batman who was the first person to sign the book) and not one person has personalized it by writing “Thanks, Brian” or anything like that. I’d like to keep the book pristine in that way, but it bothers me that I might have to skip getting someone’s signature for that reason. Which brings me to Christian Bale…

I’ve never seen Christian Bale sign anything without asking for a person’s name to personalize it. I brought my “Batman” book to two previous interviews with Mr. Bale, yet never brought it out for that reason. But there I was sitting beside him at the “Terminator Salvation” roundtables and I decided to chance it. Sure enough, he asked who he should make it out to. I said, “If you wouldn’t mind, could you just put your name?” Christian said, “How do I know you won’t put this on E-Bay?” Fortunately, one of the other interviewers piped up and said that would never happen, as I’ve been getting the book signed for years now. So Christian actually signed it and I breathed a sigh of relief. Now let me point you to my auction on E-Bay… Never!

6. THE “AMERICAN IDOL” FINALE:

This was just a great day, starting with lunch with Neil Sedaka and my friend Fred Bronson, great seats for the finale at the Nokia Theater (with the Kiss appearance and the announcement of the winner being the highlights) and ending with the “19” party which featured appearances by not just this year’s contestants, but many from past years. I especially enjoyed the moment when Kris Allen’s father was telling us about how people were already leaving messages on their porch for Kris and David Archuleta piped in and said, “That’s nothing. We have people walking right into our house!”

5.  TERRY FATOR AT THE MIRAGE:

This year I went to my first Cirque Du Soleil show, “O,” at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In spite of all the raves I’ve heard over the years, I certainly wasn’t bowled over. I found the show unfocused, meandering and not all that exciting. But that same week, I did see a show I loved, Terry Fator at the Mirage. I had never seen Terry during his winning season on “America’s Got Talent,” so I was amazed by his ability to sing without opening his mouth. Terry proved to be a master impressionist and a great singer all at the same time, combining great music with plenty of laughs…

4.  “STAR TREK”:

I have been a “Star Trek” fan since high school, and while I wasn’t too worried that J.J. Abrams would screw up the reboot as I really liked his work on “Mission Impossible III,” I never imagined this new “Trek” would be so well done, so exciting and respectful to what came before. I literally had tears in my eyes watching it, because I was so happy the movie was so good…

3.  THE “LOST” SEASON FIVE FINALE:

I love “Lost” more than anything else in pop culture right now. The Season Five finale was a true game changer, with answers revealed in the opening scene, and one of the biggest “Lost” shockers ever when we learned John Locke wasn’t quite John Locke. I can’t wait for Season Six to start…

2.  “GEORGE STRAIT: ACM ARTIST OF THE DECADE ALL STAR CONCERT”:

I was the researcher on this show and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed working on a project so much. First I got to stay a week in one of my favorite places, Las Vegas. Then I got to attend the rehearsals by each performer as they worked out their songs with the house band. It was like having a private concert by the greats of country music, including Brooks & Dunn (Ronnie Dunn’s voice in person is amazing!), Alan Jackson and Keith Urban.

I was especially pleased when Taylor Swift arrived at the rehearsals and read her script for the show. She was extremely happy with it, and after she learned it was because I had done a phone interview with her about how George Strait had changed her life, she came over and gave me a hug.

But as nice as that was, it was nothing compared to sitting in the audience at the concert and watching performer after performer show their love for the man known as King George. They did it through their words and they did it through their music.  Truly an unforgettable evening…

1.  THE “LOST” PANEL AT COMIC-CON:

It was exciting enough that I actually made it into the “Lost” panel without staying overnight in line, but I never would have guessed how entertaining it would be. Kudos to the “Lost” production staff for working so hard to make this a special occasion for the fans, complete with funny videos, revealing videos and great guest appearances by the actors. Michael Emerson’s interruption of Jorge Garcia was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen all year, and it may have been topped by Nestor Carbonell’s Christian Slater impression. And it bears repeating: I can’t wait for Season 6! I wonder if anything will be able to beat out the “Lost” season finale for number one on this list come next year…

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BOLDLY GOING

May 7, 2009

Hard as it might be to believe now, the first time I saw an episode of “Star Trek,” I wasn’t impressed. It was an episode of the original series called “Catspaw,” which featured an alien that could turn into a giant black cat. It was the second season’s  Halloween episode and it was so cheesy, I didn’t watch another episode of “Star Trek” for years. But a few years later, I gave it another try thanks to the syndicated reruns and this time I watched an episode every afternoon until I had seen ever one. I soon realized that “Star Trek” was the blueprint for one of my favorite storytelling devices, which I call the three guys. The trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. The leader (Kirk) pulled in opposite directions by logic (Spock) and emotion (McCoy). It always works…

I was in college when “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” came out, and I was in line to see it opening night. And while it might have a bad reputation now, at the time my friends and I all loved it. It was great to see the crew back in action. Of course, we didn’t know what action was until the release of the second “Trek” movie, “The Wrath Of Khan”!

By the release of “Star Trek III,” I was living here in L.A, but as I only started covering movie junkets in 1992, I never got a chance to attend a press event for a film starring the original crew. Somehow I even missed out on “Generations,” my big chance to interview William Shatner, although I haven’t missed the interviews for a “Star Trek” movie since, evidenced by the fact the entire “Next Gen” cast has signed my “Next Generation Companion” book. Oh, I finally did get a chance to see William Shatner, even if it was while he was accepting an award for winning the celebrity race at the Long Beach Grand Prix!

Of course, more “Star Trek” came along on TV over the years and I never missed an episode. Some of my favorites included the final season of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” which featured the most seamlessly intricate and exciting storytelling this side of “Lost” (it’s no wonder some of the writers went on to work on “24”) and also the final season of “Enterprise,” when the show finally threw open its arms to the “Star Trek” canon and started basing stories on some of the earlier shows’ legendary plots and ideas.

Which brings us to the movie that opens tomorrow night. I really wasn’t worried about what J.J. Abrams would do with “Star Trek,” as I loved his work on “Mission Impossible III” and I’ve always been one to take a look at something before I badmouth it. I don’t mind if things are changed if it makes for a better movie. And if there’s one thing J.J. has done, it’s that he’s made a great movie (but let me take a moment to say that in the rush to canonize the new “Star Trek,” people are talking down the earlier movies, but some of them are very enjoyable, especially “The Wrath Of Khan,” “The Voyage Home,” “The Undiscovered Country” and “First Contact”).

The new film has done everything right, so much so that I got teary eyed at times, thankful that something I loved was done so well. Great cast, non-stop action and most important, characters that actually have personalities. That last one came from Gene Roddenberry and the new “Star Trek” has smartly carried on the tradition. Yes, I kind of wish Chris Pine had done more of a William Shatner impersonation (hey, it worked for the other cast members), but I’ll certainly accept Chris’ claim that only Mr. Shatner is capable of playing Kirk that way.

So like everyone else who’ll see “Star Trek” in the next few days, I can’t wait for the further adventures of the Enterprise and her crew. I hope that next time around, Chris gets to say those immortal words, “Space, the final frontier…” Although I have to admit, I am a little worried that the producers are thinking about bringing Khan back, as Ricardo Montalban played him so perfectly the first time around.

And here I promised I wouldn’t badmouth something before I saw it. Sorry… and live long and prosper!