Thursday, November 26, 2015

A new look at thankful—Dateline: Trekland

Normally, any Thanksgiving post by me anywhere turns on a fun recall of the epic WKRP episode. You know.

But this year—and not through any trauma, or epic turn of life—I"m feeling my thankfulness in some all new ways. And no, not even for the 50th anniversary of this driving force that has entertained,  enraptured, inspired and even connected so many around the world in such good works and ideals.

And not even for a new series, finally... much less another stab at a feature film.

No, I'm feeling thankful for all of you out there who are reading these words, following my projects, sending good thoughts my way or even sounding off. And most of all, taking active part.

Because, bit by bit, that thankful feedback and my own slooow evolution of awareness has helped me to really, finally, figure out my place in Trekland...and the greater world today. Exciting wacky projects still come along out of the blue, of course, but the scariness of losing old "big box" bosses and paradigms has finally begun to yield to an excitement for the new world of DIY business ...and how that might apply to all things Trek.

And, especially, to those who love, treasure, and unabashedly honor Gene's creation as a driving force of fun or even philosophy in their lives.

Some of you may recall I talked about a couple of major goals at the dawn of 2014... and how I had to make priorities, even among my beloved Trek projects. Now, almost two years later, I'm finally getting there.

Finding the ways that today's tech and culture allow me to freshen the old, uncover the forgotten, and help those folks connect the Trek dots even as new dots are being created .... well, I'm grateful and thankful for the sense to figure that out, and for all those who seem to want me to. Just about the time I decided that every story, insight or memento in Trek's First Fifty is moldy-old or just tired ... along comes a new fan who needs a new shot of Trekland goodness—or a whole generation who does, too. And they in turn regurge, and bring a shiny fresh take on it to entertain and inspire all of us. Especially me!

I love how Trek, via its fans, never grows old. What a core, future-leaning gift of intelllgence, love, fun and respect that Gene and all his collaborators left us in that silly little failed TV show.

So yes—thanks to you all for finding the worth and enjoyment of my experiments in bringing  the Trek odyssey to life in unique, all-new ways —my ways— with On Speaker, with The Trekland Trunk... and now, especially, the real cherry on top: Portal 47.

It's still a new, evolving experiment with a long way to go, but I'm thankful so many of you all feel the ride is worth it, and continue to jump aboard—and share the word.

In fact, I'll be sharing a word or two here tomorrow on my new Trek works—just in time for Cyber Monday. More on that then, but for now...

No, I've never felt a Thanksgiving like this before. With the new economy, new self-awareness, and Gene's vision still exciting all of us young and old, I look forward to moving on ... with many more thankful days to come.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Star Trek 2017: Five questions I still have

It’s been two weeks now since The Big News, when this is where my mind went in the first few hours …  while many fans went off, not on the potential show but on its potential delivery system.

But with all the immediate hand-wringing since by media types, pundits, and fans somehow armed with a Twitter account… there’s been absolutely no news on the content side of the equation. 

Which itself speaks volumes.

But it has been two weeks… and I still have a lot of unanswered questions.  Maybe the dust has settled enough for others to see this as well, but….

Here’s what I just want to know:

1)    How big is the show order? Eight, 10, 12, 18 episodes? As an expensive streaming show, how much investment and risk is CBS willing to stake, and for how far ahead a commitment? 
2)    Where they will shoot this for CBS Television Studio... in LA (at Paramount, a CBS studio, or elsewhere) … or out of town: Vancouver, Toronto, who knows? I ask purely for selfish and convenience reasons.                     
3)    Is the "CBS preview" an hour-long promotional preview with interviews and demo features, or the actual pilot episode? 
4)    Is Alex Kurtzman to be an actual hands-on showrunner, or a Dick Wolf “nameplate” type who picks a showrunner and then moves on, leaving all in the hireling’s hands? And, if so, who IS that “real” showrunner to be, and then who else will be in on the format development of characters and setting? The actual CBS press release was not shy about admitting that writers have been interviewed—but did not to specify if they were actual show runners, or pilot writers, much less who had been hired. Obviously, no one, as of then—or even now: that hire and clarification will surely be a news-making moment. 
5)    And ultimately, of course, the big le-matya: The timeline choice between Prime and alt-JJ as the setting.

And that last brings up a couple angles in this tale you may not yet have considered:

It struck me, after the CBS-Bad Robot tug-of-war over the legacy fate of all things Prime, that CBS has that vested interest $$wise in building on the existing library and its spin-off products. By 2015, surely it is hardly Trekkie mumbo-jumbo to the network brass to understand this, and to push for hiring creatives who can easily design and tell stories in “canon” and still feel unencumbered and unchained in their storytelling/visualizing. (#primeisnotscary #primeisnothard )

Of course, many may be confusing the potential apples and oranges of this  “JJverse” vs “prime” question: there's also the visual canon versus the timeline canon—and then, the mistake of equating either choice as simply the 1980s and the 2010s. They aren’t, of course: a “modern Bad Robot” quality can be both indulged and intelligently applied to a pre-TNG setting or a post-TNG setting in Prime as well as alt-verse…if the right drivers are given the keys. Don't assume that a "Prime" show means it has to look like 1987 production technology, or even 1995. 

Which leads to another reality that’s been overlooked here: Of all the potential showrunners we might like to see, with or without Trek credits already… how many of them are not tied up by contract to another studio and are even free and clear to navigate to CBS's Trek?

Seen in that light, this business-driven renaissance that had Kurtzman in the first press release might have been more about having his name and friendly CBS-based deal involved than his recent film experience—an experience he had already chosen to end for the third movie, even before former partner Bob Orci was taken off the project.

Yes, it will all come out in the wash—sooner than later, actually, in these next 15 months.  So many, many questions still unanswered—and maybe a few assumptions to be second-guessed as well.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

STV: Need your lost Vegas Trek wedding plaque?

We finally get back on track with our vidchats here—and while this was recorded a while back, the project is very much still in play:

Anyone who got married from 1998-2004 at the late, great Star Trek: The Experience at the old Las Vegas Hilton may not realize it, but there's an historical marker of their wedding they may not even be aware of.

And now, local fan J. Marty Dormany has rescued those markers—small plaques with each couple's name and wedding date that were once affixed to a plaque that hung at the venue—and is trying to reunite each couple with their piece of Trek history.  Just give a listen and learn how:

FYI: Portal 47 members got to view this video up to 72 hours early before it went public—one feature of their deep-dive Trekland access. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Listen: I deep-dive the Trek 2017 news on NPR &

For those of you who prefer your Trek 2017 info and discussion audio-style as well as deep,
I took part in two great discussions this week that are now downloadable for a listen at your leisure.

Many are familiar with The Ready Room, the flagship program of Chris Jones' network of podcasts—and for the third time this year he invited me on for a breaking-news special edition. This time, rather than the deaths of Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett, we had a much more upbeat time talking about the future: the news, business angle and still many questions surrounding "Star Trek 2017"—as well as the stupifying and varied fan reaction to the CBS All Access streaming platform it would pioneer. It's 90 minutes and quite a deep dive, by the times we plumb the angles and implications...and as usual I hope I brought some historical and production context many fans might not have thought of yet.

Also this week, NPR radio host Tom Ashbrook in Boston invited me on his On Point call-in talk show Friday to join two TV critics and bring the hot-news Trek perspective to the topic—the current so-called TV  "reboot" wave. Of course I made the point that Star Trek has already passed through its initial "regeneration" not once but twice, 1986 and 2009—and that to fans this represents not a TV fad but just the latest volume in the series FINALLY coming out, dammit. I had the last half-hour of the hour-long show, but it's all great fun with X-Files and Gilmore Girls getting the secondary attention from the other guests, as well as Trek. You can listen or download it as well at the link.

And if you are not in the download audio habit—that's simply what a podcast is!—they make a great on-demand companion for your long commute, your long jog or workout, or whenever meaningful (and specialized) audio can come in handy. 

Here's as good a time as any to try them out!  I've been a guest on 30+ shows all across Chris's network for years now and he even has a special page made up for them in's coveted "featured iTunes" status section...although you can get to them in a zillion ways—including just direct audio play off the website.

Of course, this was also the topic of this month's "Ask Dr. Trek" Roundtable telebriefing in my Portal 47 group of backstage deep-divers (that's the session where they pepper me, instead of a wonderful guest Trek voice you've likely never heard from—which is the second one of the month). And true to my archive opening feature in P47, I shared both Bob Justman's 1986 memos and Interstat fan letters that year to show how much things are still the same between 1986 and 2015.
 If you're diggin' these type of second-level info, past or future, you really should come through the Portal with us each month for the whole package!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Salt Lake ComicCon: What a line-up for Trekland!

They say that Salt Lake ComicCon is now the #3 geek/genre convention in the country now—after granddaddy San Diego and still-young New York CC. I guess I'm about to be two for three!

Yes, I'm SLCC-bound next weekend with a very full dance card, taking PORTAL 47 out for its first spin in public,  and well aware of the huge Trek turnout from the Utah/Idaho region at this otherwise multi-genre comic-con. I'll be at Booth 2254 at posted hours with a drawing for some rad real prizes —and gifts for PORTAL 47 on-site sign-ups.

I'm going to be doing everything from hosting Walter Koenig on stage to remembering Leonard Nimoy … and looking at the State of Trek was we barrell down into the big 5-0 anniversary.

Not to mention helping out with the WORLD PREMIERE of Star Trek Continues' Episode 5 and the panel afterward with Vic, Chris, Wyatt and Steve—and Lisa, and Daniel

And, of course, what's a convention on my guesting itinerary without a Dr. Trek crowdfunder night for The Con of Wrath—now into our wrap-up shooting year?

Doubly excited, as this will be the largest convention where PORTAL 47 is out in the open!  Thus, I'll have "On Speaker" CDs, my photos, and a drawing for three prizes at my table— two months of Portal 47 power, a TNG-era artifact from the Trekland Trunk, and a one-time Portal guest telebriefing jump-in, too (need not be present to win!). 

So if you are in SLC, be sure to come visit me at dear ol' Booth 2254 at the Salt Palace! Who knows—I may even do something radical and have an assistant this weekend.

The con sked for me is here … 

2 pm, Rm 355 — All about the for-real Enterprise in 4 pm, Grand Ballroom — Moderating for the great Walter!

5 pm, RM 255E — "Leonard Nimoy: A Retrospective"
6-7:30 pm, RM 355 — Star Trek Continues WORLD PREMIERE Ep. 5 screening/ panel
9-11 pm, Rm 151A: "Dr. Trek Show" crowdfunder event for The Con of Wrath

3 pm , RM 255E — "The State of Trek: Looking Ahead to Star Trek at 50" —Not my usual fan forum, but a panel leading and with Chris Doohan, John Eaves, Jonathan Croup

And there's a chance we will get to add one more for Thursday or Saturday.. stay tuned.

I was blown away by the depth of Trek fandom in Utah during the small but intense CONduit sci-fi con last spring… so this 

Friday, September 11, 2015

PORTAL 47 by Tuesday: BONUSES fixed and a new clear look

I've been hearing from more folks who were unable to sign in on the inaugural PORTAL 47 pilot session / sample "telebriefing" Tuesday night… or unwilling, given the new tech.  Or maybe, even this is your first notice.

See, you can now go right to the *regular* website, and get what you missed Wednesday.

And if you did miss it, you missed a bit of history.  We had some glitches, but I can't wait to mature that tool among the rest of the PORTAL package I've put together ….in my long hunt for unique ways to use my own 20+ years of archives, memories and Trek contacts… in a way fans have never seen before: a deep-dive mini-con right to your own "center seat."

Even though that was a sample call meshing two of our formats, I must share a big thanks to VGR/ENT 1st assistant director Mike DeMeritt  for just scratching the surface of what we'll get to with real and often under-heard Trek creators… and also the surprise commuting call-in from Trek fan>Producer Dave Rossi that kicked us off, even before the P47 members came in for a quick Roundtable.  In fact, I've got a blog coming about a point Dave posed. Hmmm!

The only bugaboo of the night was from me… FORGETTING to mention the three bonus gifts I had lined up for new Portallers to come aboard here in the Founding Time:
—a free Vol. 2 or 3 "On Speaker" CD of your choice
—an actual VGR/DS9/ENT call sheet
—and a free "13th month" of the PORTAL…. Which by next fall will have who knows how much more awesome than even now.

I just want to make sure everybody has a fair shot, and a clear shot, to see just what PORTAL 47 is al about, after these weeks of teasing:
So—I've extended the THREE inaugural sign-in bonuses a week—until midnight local time this Tuesday, Sept. 15. 

You're welcome—and here's the *regular* website link again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

So, 49 years ago …

… THIS happened:

Happy birthday (formally), Star Trek! We'd party more today, but we are already too busy planning the blowout for the big 5-0…. NEXT YEAR.

PORTAL 47: Finally, my all-new deep-dive fan experience is ready

UPDATE: The sample "telebriefing" is done, and the whole program and two ways to get there are now online—plus some quick bonus goodies. Come be a Founding 47'er!


I almost forgot to post about it myself! 

But, yes, that all-new, boutique deep-dive fan experience I've been trying to develop …. to get you backstage in the 24th century using the best of the 21st century … it's finally here: PORTAL 47

Actually, it's not quite—not til tomorrow, Wednesday night, Sept. 9, anyway. A few early-birds already jumped in as Portallers, after seeing my sneak-peeks at San Diego and Vegas Trek. But for most of fandom, I finally draw back the virtual curtain tomorrow night—Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. Pacific/ 10 pm Eastern. (NOTE: The session is done, but see the UPDATE above, and permanent link!).

I'm so excited. It's like opening night!

That's when I invite everyone to listen in on our very first "telebriefing" for those first members —online or by phone. But it's also doubling as a sampler mashup for everyone still new to the package—so after "halftime" I'll briefly go over the features as well as a couple ways to take it—and I'll have all that, plus more one-time surprises for everyone actually with us that night.

If you're at the "shut up and tell me how" stage, then just go here and sign in for ongoing info! 

The truth is, I've been blessed and gratified to have had a front-row seat in many things Trekland for years now…as all you readers and listeners so kindly tell me you enjoy. I not only enjoy that, but feel compelled to keep connecting the dots for fans, and connecting them with voices they might never have heard from! For me, it's all about preserving and archiving as much as pundits and analysis. 

But so many of the conventional streams of "content" are either slow… or not very dynamic … or ignorant of current tech capabilities …  or not even a good business model for putting food on the table (mine!).  PORTAL 47 may yet evolve and get tweaked past what we launch with, but  that idea of a new kind of "deep dive" into insider insight … is exactly what I'm been trying to put together for several years now.

So! It's show time!  The PORTAL 47 public Facebook is up now (yes— Like!), and the webpage will be up in a couple days—but I'd much, much rather tell you directly than write you remotely. If you are not already on my news list (?!) and need the "coordinates," then please: 

Just sign in at this link here and get the details on how to listen in on the telebriefing…and decide for yourself. It's an hour call, no extra cost to you….and I still have a few goodies in my crew gift bag.   

Hope you can make it! 

"It's not for everyone.  But if you’re a new fan … a bored fan… or a fan who’s starting to realize just how much you don’t know … then my pioneering PORTAL 47 is for you!"