Location: Maurice in San Francisco
Susan Sackett's Star Trek Report (Stalog Magazine)
I was poking through The Internet Archive scans of Starlog Magazine's
early issues and ran across Susan Sackett's column, Star Trek Report, which largely covered the making of ST:TMP. I thought it might be fun to pull the text of a few of those and share them here for those who may remember them or may not have ever read them. If you weren't around then, we were dying for information about Star Trek's return, so we gobbled this stuff up.
Here's one of the columns I remember best:
LINK TO ISSUE
A FAN NEWS COLUMN BY SUSAN SACKETT
STAR TREK REPORT
Filming the Klingons' Destruction
[PHOTO FROM JOURNEY TO BABEL]
Mark Lenard (right) appeared as Spock's father
in "Journey to Babel" and as a Romulan in
"Balance of Terror," now plays a Klingon.
Pardon me while I defect. I just can't
help it. You'd feel the same way too
if you were on the Klingon set. What
a ship! What glorious battles these Klingons
must have seen aboard this vessel! If I had my
druthers, I'd want to serve with these guys.
Scary? You bet! One sneer from any one of
them is probably lethal. I don't care. They are
so deliciously malevolent, so tantalizingly ter-
rifying as to be irresistible. Too bad they all
die in the movie.
My first encounter with the Klingons is in
the Paramount commissary, There, seated
around a long table, are nine—count 'em
nine Klingons, sporting the swarthiest of
makeup, including a bone ridge running
from the base of the skull, up over the crown,
terminating at the nose. Different than
previous Klingons we've met, but definitely,
recognizably Klingons. They have removed
their militaristic-looking costume jackets,
and sit in undershirts and suspendered pants,
munching on chef salads (which, judging
from the appearance of this group of nasties,
probably contain the chef himself). They
look like lodge brothers, initiates in some
strange sort of coven. Even their boots, with
their toe spikes, promise a cloven hoof inside.
I am greeted with, "Hello, Susan." Uh oh!
Am I on the Klingon 's hit list? Then I
recognize the voice under all that makeup.
"Mark!" It's Mark Lenard, the Klingon cap-
tain. Relieved, I pull up a chair and chow
down with my new-found heroes.
The Star Trek movie's opening scenes show
a strange alien force attacking three Klingon
ships, and judging from what I'm seeing of
the Klingons and their wonderfully grundgy
ship with its gun turrets and Klingon language
scrawled all over the various consoles, this is
going to be one heck of an opening. Doug
Trumbull's description of the ship rings true:
"It's like a Japanese submarine in World
War II that's been at sea too long." Below the
set, which is built up on a wooden trussed
platform, smudge pots and fans are sending
clouds of "fog" up into every dark corner of
this bridge, heightening the effect.
Mark Lenard is spitting out orders to his
crew. I don't understand the harsh Klingon
words he uses, but he gets the point across.
Their ship is being attacked. Battle Stations!
The Klingon crew staggers around the bridge,
caught in their death throes. Then it's the
captain's turn to die. Mark obediently dies
on cue. Again. And again. Klingons die hard.
(Of course, Robert Wise's quest for perfec-
tion as he directs this scene may have some-
thing to do with it also.)
It took three days to kill off the Klingons,
and I'll really miss them. I keep looking in the
corners of Stage 12, hoping one of them might
still be lurking. But, sadly, they are all gone.
Following completion of the Klingon
scenes, we filmed the final live-action scene
on a set just a few meters from the now-dark
Klingon bridge. Epsilon Nine, a Federation
outpost on the Klingon border (literally!),
also falls victim to this alien menace. David
Gautreaux plays Commander Branch, the
head honcho of this outpost. You may recall
that David was once going to play the young
Vulcan Lieutenant Xon when we had
planned to do a television movie. His assis-
tant, identified in the script as "female lieu-
tenant," is played by Michele Ameen Billy.
Michele had marked time while awaiting her
part by doubling as scriptwriter Harold
Livingston's secretary. She and David have
appeared in several plays together, but this is
their first joint film appearance. The set they
work in is so crisp and clean that it takes
some getting used to. It's bright, well-lit, with
beautiful floors and colorful consoles. But I
notice that the art department had some fun
with this one, too. Above one of the consoles
is a panel showing the duty roster for the out-
post. Among the names up there (which I
doubt were picked up by the camera) are the
following: R. D. Enberry, M. Minor, L. Cole,
R. McKenzie and Gort. In case you're won-
dering, Mike Minor, Lee Cole and Richard
McKenzie are all members of the Star Trek
art department. As for R. D. Enberry and
Gort, I'll leave those for you to figure out!
With completion of this second-unit film-
ing (headed up by cinematographer Bruce
Logan), we have concluded all of our post-
production scenes at Paramount. Optical
work continues, of course, and the film mil
be on target —release is still set for December.
Jerry Goldsmith has begun composing his
musical score, and judging from the lavish
praises he's been receiving from the critics on
his score for Alien, the Star Trek music
should be very exciting.
Recently, the principal cast has been
returning to the Paramount lot for looping
sessions. Film editor Todd Ramsey was very
impressed with Leonard Nimoy's skill at
synchronization, remarking that the actor
was one of the most professional he had ever
Gene Roddenberry recently was attacked
by a vicious Klingon spider. (Actually, it was.
posing as a brown recluse, a poisonous spider
with venom even stronger than a black
widow's.) He wasn't aware of it at the time,
and assumed that he was coming down with
the flu; he even gave a talk at a local Los
Angeles college while running a fever of 106°
He finally had to be taken to the hospital,
where his doctor noticed his swollen, in-
flamed leg and administered the proper an-
tibiotics. He's fully recovered and is busy
working on the completion of the Star Trek
Persis Khambatta recently dropped by.
Her dark hair has grown in beautifully, and is
now about as long as the famous Mia Farrow
style. Her charming, sari-bedecked mother
was with her, visiting from her native India,
along with Persis' latest flame, a handsome
young man from Germany. *
* * *
“The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.”
― Orson Welles