Tuesday, June 28, 2016

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: THE TOS ENTERPRISE RESTORATION IS COMPLETE!!

The newly-restored Enterprise model is now in its new berth! Here's the details from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum:

The Enterprise model, a genuine television star of the 1960s, now rests in the south lobby of Milestones (near the Independence Ave. entrance) in a new, state-of-the-art, climate-controlled case. From the center of the Hall, the restored Enterprise rests with its camera-ready side on full view. Walk around to the back to see the less-decorated port or left side, where the wires bring power to the internal lights and motors. The model’s internal lighting has been replaced with modern LEDs, which will come to life at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm local time each day. An interactive touchscreen attached to the case allows visitors to learn more about the model, Star Trek, and the Museum’s long interest in imagined spaceflight.

She's a beauty, all right, and now in a true place of honor:



More to come!

LLAP,

Don

Sunday, June 26, 2016

FANTASTIC ORIGINAL SERIES LIRPA FROM "AMOK TIME" IS ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. AND IT'S THE REAL DEAL.

Starting June 29 and going on for three days, Profiles In History's Hollywood Auction 83 has some staggeringly cool and rare props and costumes going all the way back to the 60's and The original Series. One of the most amazing of these offerings is a prop familiar with all fans of TOS – the Vulcan Lirpa as seen in the classic episode "Amok Time".

The claim is that this is one of the two actually used in the filming of the episode. Does that claim, hold up? Let's check it out.

Here's the main shot of the prop that Profiles is selling. Be sure to click on it for the large version with plenty of detail.


Usually, with any piece offered from TOS, it's super-tough to truly authenticate it unless it comes from the estate of someone like Gene Roddenberry, Matt Jefferies, Leonard Nimoy or Robert Justman. Even then, you have to be careful because things get mixed up over time.

In this case, though, authentication is a pretty simple matter because the piece can speak for itself, something that is incredibly rare for any Trek piece. Because of the size and nature of the prop, its details are easy to see both now and in an amazing still image from its original use back in 1967. The blade was made from aluminum, though it was blunted to avoid any real carnage. But it looks very deadly in use in part because the blade is burnished in a realistic way. And that burnishing tell us everything.

Check out this still from the actual episode, especially the Lirpa's blade:


Notice that it has lots of great detail because it's so large and prominent in the shot. This is something that is almost unheard of with most Star Trek props. You hardly ever get a close-up of a Phaser or Communicator and those were used throughout the show's three-year run. But here's a prop that was only used in a single episode, yet we get this amazing image for reference.

So let's now look at them side-by-side and see what we can see:


I took the image from the episode and inverted the tones – lights become dark and darks become lights. I did this because, due to the nature of metal objects, lights and darks are purely a result of the angle of the camera and the lights. By inverting the values, we can see what the tones would look like with lighting similar to what Profiles has used. And the results smack you across the face.

The various burnished areas show a high degree of matching. Since it was undoubtedly done by hand with a random outcome, any kind of match would be hard to manufacture. The details are not just similar but exact. Keep in mind that it's had almost 50 years to pick up additional nicks and flaws. I think the photo evidence is very conclusive – this is the Lirpa held by William Shatner back in 1967 as he sparred with Leonard Nimoy on Desilu's sound stage.

That's freakin' amazing.

That said, I'd like to be clear about something. I've never inspected this piece first hand. And it's impossible to say that its not a reproduction done specifically to fool the eye. But I've seen and held a lot of props over the years and this match seems way to organic and perfect to be anything else but genuine, in my opinion.

This makes this piece one of the rarest and most amazing finds in Star Trek collecting history. A couple of years ago the long-lost Phaser Rifle from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" came out into the light, much to the delight of fans everywhere. This piece is much like that.I have no idea where it's been for 49 years, but I'm very happy to see that it has survived, and in very good condition, too.

The word "rare" get overused these days, especially regarding Star Trek. But this is one time when it's definitely not hyperbole. This sucker is super-amazing-to-the-nth-degree-rare.

Did I mention it's kind of unusual?

Check out the entire catalog here:

Profiles Star Trek Auction

LLAP.

Don

AT LAST AN AXANAR INSIDER TELLS ALL: ALEC PETERS WANTED TO USE AXANAR TO BREAK INTO OFFICIAL STAR TREK FILM-MAKING DESPITE UTTER LACK OF EXPERIENCE

This story is in regards to the on-going litigation surrounding a Star Trek "fan film" called "Axanar". If you've never heard about it, don't worry – most fans haven't. It's a tempest in a teapot. For the complete saga, see this very well done website dedicated to the subject: Axamonitor.

In a staggering turn of events, Christian Gossett, the director of the Star Trek short film "Prelude to Axanar" did an interview with The G & T Show and spilled the beans on just about everything regarding the Axanar Production, most significantly how it started and where things went wrong.



Here's a few highlights which demonstrate the staggering hubris and stupidity involved:

Creator/producer/writer/actor Alec Peters wanted to to be hired by CBS and/or Paramount to create real Star Trek. Despite having ZERO experience in the film industry, Peters wanted to somehow create something that would demonstrate to CBS/Paramount how great he was at producing, all while being funded by donations to his vanity project. That "calling card" would become Axanar. According to Gossett, Peters wanted to be like Rick Berman, the producer who was in charge of all things Star Trek throughout its heyday of the nineties. The arrogance of such a thing is jaw-dropping.

Gossett brought in the pros. Gossett brought in the professionals that made "Prelude", most of whom were unpaid and left after being exposed to Peters and his ego. In one significant example, Peters replaced production designer Scott Cobb via a Facebook post, rather than talking with him directly. What a class act. Gossett wanted to stress to those that support the Axanar project based on "Prelude" that most of the people who made "Prelude" happen are gone. At 18:48

What started as a collaboration became a dictatorship. Once the money started coming in, Peters started changing everything despite having no producing experience. Since he held the purse strings, no one could do anything about it. So they left. 24:35

Peters constantly insisted that he was in touch with CBS. Gossett says that Peters repeatedly assured him that he was in touch with CBS and had their blessing for the overall production as well as for things like selling Axanar Coffee, a fund-raising element of the production. There is no evidence that this contact was a fact, and much to suggest it was a blatant lie.  At 26:38

Gossett didn't want the sound stage. Gossett saw no reason to do any type of sound stage build, insisting that a rental was the thing that made the most sense. A rental would have kept the budget lean, contrary to the bloated budget that has now been enacted. That budget now takes the crowd-funded cash and wastes it on monthly rent rather than putting it on-screen.

Peters didn't want to put raised money on-screen. The Vulcan Scene is the only scene that has thus far been shot for the Axanar feature film and was done after Gossett left. But Gossett says that, before his departure, Peters wanted him to shoot it, but on a very meager budget, despite the fact that the crowd-funding had brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Gossett, the intent of that shoot was to raise even more money.  At 31:30
The "David and Goliath" comparison needs to be redefined. Axanar supporters are constantly evoking a "David vs. Goliath" scenario with themselves cast as the victimized David figure. But Gossett's take was that Axanar was Goliath with all other fan films as the underdogs.  At 49:00

As a result of their "Goliath" standing, the new draconian Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines are a direct result of Axanar's grandiosity. "Prelude to Axanar" was directed by Gossett for approximately $100,000. The Axanar feature film, however, had a budget that exploded as money poured in based in the quality of "Prelude". And as that budget exploded, the production and everything about it got bigger. And that, Gossett believes, is what got the studios' attention.

One of the important takeaways from this interview is the fact that Gossett does not turn on the nasty in any way. He presents the facts as he knows them but leaves any sort of character assassination out of it. Mr. Peters, on the other hand, has proven time after time to be the King of Character Assassination. The difference in tone between the two could not be more pronounced.

Thanks to Mr. Gossett for going on the record. It confirms a lot of things that people have been talking about while shedding light on the entire process that he was an integral part of.

LLAP,

Don

Saturday, June 25, 2016

50TH ANNIVERSARY STAR TREK AUCTION DELIVERS STUNNING OFFERINGS! (HAH! GET IT? STUNNING?)

The Shat's Captain's uniform!!
"Holy crap!"  Not too sophisticated, I know, but that's all I could think of when I saw the catalog for an upcoming auction of Star Trek items.

"Holy, holy crap!"

With Star Trek's 50th Anniversary fast approaching, there's going to be a lot of Trek in the news over the coming months. But nothing will excite collectors more than the upcoming Profiles in History Hollywood 83 auction that is featuring an amazing assortment of Star Trek props, costumes and production materials going all the way back to the original Star Trek itself. There have been some great auctions over the years but this one delivers what has to be the most exclusive array of truly rare pieces ever.

The exclusivity starts with no less than uniforms from both Kirk and Spock: Shatner and Nimoy-worn uniforms dating back to the original series. But as amazing as that sounds, it's just the start. Here's some additional highlights:

A red Uhura uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols

A gold Chekov tunic worn by Walter Koenig

A red Yeoman Rand uniform worn by Grace Lee Whitney

Nurse Chapel's blue medical uniform worn by Majel Barrett

Romulan uniforms from the classic "Balance of Terror"

Numerous guest star costumes

A deadly-looking Lirpa used by none other than Kirk himself from one of the greatest episodes, "Amok Time"

Klingon costumes from "Day of the Dove"

An amazing collection of props from "Wrath of Khan"

And on and on...

There's also plenty of items from later Treks as well including an assortment of Next Gen uniforms (featuring a Brent Spiner Data uniform!), costumes, props and even prototypes. Whatever your  favorite Star Trek version, there's definitely something for everyone.

You can find the complete catalog and bidding info here:

Profiles In History Hollywood Auction 83

Check it out!

LLAP

Don

Friday, June 24, 2016

CRAPPING IN THE SANDBOX: HOW ALEC PETERS AND AXANAR RUINED STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTIONS FOR EVERYONE ELSE

Disclaimer 1: This story is in regards to the on-going litigation surrounding a Star Trek "fan film" called "Axanar". If you've never heard about it, don't worry – most fans haven't. It's a tempest in a teapot. For the complete saga, see this very well done website dedicated to the subject: Axamonitor.

Disclaimer 2: I've been called a "hater" of Alec Peters. It's true, but then I hate all narcissistic douchecanoes (thanks Wil Wheaton!) who threaten my life, so...

Dear Mr. Peters: be careful what you wish for.

One of the key elements that Mr. Peters and company have bemoaned during the on-going Axanar litigation was the lack of specific guidelines for Star Trek fan films. For decades, other fan film productions did just fine playing in the Star Trek sandbox without said guidelines, with one even getting tacit approval from CBS/Paramount with their production, providing they didn't cross the line into commerce.

The First Rule of Star Trek Fan Films: Don't Make Money.  Second Rule: See Rule Number One.

While this may seem like common sense, apparently Mr. Peters and Company didn't understand that rule. I guess common sense is a rare commodity inside the echo chamber that is Axanar. But, just to make sure going forward that everyone – no matter how dense they might be – understands the rules, CBS and Paramount have now quantified them (found HERE). When all the elements of these guidelines are taken together as a whole, there's only one production that violates every aspect: Axanar. So there can be no doubt that these new rules were written specifically with Axanar in mind. All fan films break some of these rules but, up to now, they didn't shatter them. Only Axanar breaks them all. Breaks them, spits on them and then wipes their ass with them and sets them on fire. And that sucks for all the other fan productions who have tried to play nice in the sandbox for years but are now subject to these new draconian regulations that will cover all productions, all care of Mr. Peters and Axanar.

Make no mistake. Breaking Rule Number One is the equivalent of crapping in the sandbox. And if my own toddler memories can be relied upon, when you crap in the sandbox, everybody gets covered in shit.

The folks at Axanar would have us believe that they weren't doing anything that other fan films haven't been doing for years. That is a blatant lie that only the stupid would promulgate.

For those not in the know, here are just some of the main highlights of Peters'/Axanar's sandbox crapping:

• Raised over $1,000,000 in the name of Star Trek via crowdfunding

• Used some of that crowdfunding to build a for-profit studio

• Paid himself (Peters) at least $38,000 (that we know of)

• Sold unlicensed "Axanar Coffee" (no, I'm not making that up!)


• Sold unlicensed Axanar model kits

And on and on. Without exception no other fan film production ever did any of these things.

The basic fallout from all this is found in the first of the ten new guidelines:

"1. The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes."

The take-away here is that the most Star Trek any group can ever produce in the future is 30 minutes worth of story, period. No on-going stories, no episodes, no nothing beyond 30 minutes. This means that every existing Star Trek fan production is obsolete because they have already produced more than the 30-minute limit. They're done.

All thanks to Mr. Peters and his colossal ego. Contrary to what he and his rabid followers would have you believe,  this is not about huge companies smothering the little guy. Not at all. Rather, this is about a narcissist whose reach exceeded his grasp. He wanted to exploit the property of others for his own personal gain and he got caught. It's no more complex than than that.

Here's a list of known fan productions that can thank Alec Peters for his efforts on their behalf:

Star Trek: Ajax, Ambush, Anthology, Constellation, Continues, Dark Armada, Excelsior, Farragut, Hood, Intrepid, Lexington, Melbourne, New Voyages, Pegasus, Phoenix, Potemkin, Renegades, Starbase Studios, Valiant, Yorktown

ALL of these productions made their contributions to fan films without raising the ire of CBS/Paramount. Then along came Axanar and crapped all over their efforts because Peters couldn't keep his own ego in check.

Well played, Mr. Peters. Well played. I'm sure you are Mr. Popular with the fan film world today.


LLAP,

Don

Monday, June 6, 2016

I'M BEYOND "BEYOND": WHY "STAR TREK BEYOND" WILL NEVER MAKE A DIME OFF OF ME.

Over the last several months I've been completely overhauling a house. "Renovation" doesn't quite cover it – it's more like "a rebuild from Hell". It's kept me a way from this Blog for far too long and I hope to slowly remedy that, beginning now. Thanks for hanging in there!

Many years ago I read a book called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek". It was a tongue-in-cheek look at how Star Trek's stories can be used to solve many of life's basic conundrums ranging from treating people fairly to keeping your phaser dry. Little did I know that one of Star Trek's key lessons would teach me about... Star Trek. Specifically, when to stay away from Star Trek.

The piece of insight to which I refer comes from the classic Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", wherein Scotty gives a piece of advice that has stayed with me all my life. After being duped by a fake distress call, he ignores a second one, sagely stating "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!" This insight into human nature has helped me time and time again throughout life. And so it will again in dealing with the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.

Beyond is the third film of the "reboot" made in 2009's Star Trek which was produced and directed by Lost creator and lens flare aficionado JJ Abrams. In that film, we were introduced to an alternate universe version of the Star Trek we all knew for decades. It had all the classic characters – Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc. – but they weren't quite what we knew from the earlier incarnation. And not in a good way, in this fan's opinion. And because those first two films used up all my good will – and patience – I refuse to give in to the temptation to give these film-makers another chance. For me, it's really just another opportunity for people who make, what is in my opinion, fundamentally bad films in general – and bad Star Trek films specifically – to make another buck off of me without delivering anything beyond overdone space battles that ultimately signify nothing but their inability to write a decent script.

Throughout the first two "reboot" films, Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) we are given an all-new back-story to James Kirk which defines the direction for these movies. Instead of the smart and highly-competent starship officer which we were first introduced to in the original TV series, we're given a character who inexplicably goes from drifter to Starfleet cadet to First Officer instantly, simply because the plot needs it. There's ZERO logic to it – it simply happens. And that is, in short, the problem with the rebooted universe. Everything happens because the plot needs it to happen, not because it makes sense. Nothing makes sense!

"Flawed" should not mean "stupid"


I'll use the character of Kirk to illuminate the differences these new movies have introduced, much to my chagrin.

Throughout the run of the original series and the films that were based on that series, we're shown a Captain James T. Kirk (to me, Real Kirk) that could be obsessive ("Obsession"), selfish ("The Motion Picture"), impetuous (you name it), and arrogant (you name it, again). In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, his disregard for regulations opens the Enterprise to attack by Khan in the stolen Reliant. As a result, Real Kirk's ship is in tatters and crewmen are killed. It's one of the few times were Real Kirk's decision-making has lead to dire consequences. When he realizes what his actions have done, Real Kirk tells Saavik, "you go right on quoting regulations!" as a mea culpa. This is in stark contrast to the Reboot Kirk who makes one bad decision after another but faces no consequences. In Into Darkness Reboot Kirk's decision to let Khan out of the brig specifically results in the deaths of at least hundreds and probably thousands of people in San Francisco when the Enterprise falls out of the sky. Yet, he apparently gets no blame and keeps his command. We have no idea why. In that same film, Reboot Kirk also gets upset with Spock for telling Starfleet about his violation of the Prime Directive so that Spock could be saved. Apparently, he expected Spock to lie! Real Kirk would have assumed Spock would of course tell the truth and he, Kirk, would stand by his actions and accept responsibility for them. Real Kirk, for all his flaws, is a decent, honest man. Reboot Kirk is child-like, none too bright and is not deserving of his position.

Unrecognizable (silly) characters


Unfortunately, Kirk is not the only character to get tweaked. For some reason, Spock and Uhura become The Bickersons, a romantic couple that can't seem to keep their relationship issues to themselves. During a particularly dangerous mission, Uhura launches into a diatribe about how Spock is such a lousy boyfriend. Note to writers: having a female character rant about her boyfriend during a moment of danger is not showing us an empowered woman. Quite the contrary. In the original series, Uhura was always portrayed as a highly competent professional, not a love-sick teenager. Stick to that example, please!

Another unrecognizable character was Khan in Into Darkness. And by "unrecognizable", I mean  literally unrecognizable! The character made famous by Mexican actor Ricardo Montalb├ín was suddenly portrayed by the whitest of white guys, Benedict Cumberbatch. It made no sense whatsoever, but in a film that showed no ability to make sense, it fit right in.

Plots that make no sense (See? I told you.)


Both reboot films suffer from a total lack of common sense in their respective story-telling. While in command of the Enterprise, Spock decides that a rebellious Kirk needs to be banished to a harsh moon instead of simply being thrown into the brig. Why? Because it was a way to get Kirk onto a harsh moon for an action sequence after which he could meet Spock Prime who also just happened to be banished on the same moon. Wait, what? That makes no sense? No shit.

Then there's the "magic transporter", a plot device contrived to get characters from point A to point B that is, IMO, so incredibly stupid because going forward it negates the very basis of Star Trek – the need of a ship to go from place to place. It's used in both films, and the second time is even worse – ie: dumber! – than the first!

Add in crazy, blood-thirsty Admirals who have a model of their super-secret starship sitting right out in the open in their office, "magic Khan blood" that apparently cures death from that moment on, a super-smart Khan who can somehow design 23rd-century weapons of mass destruction but can't figure out how to thaw out his buddies frozen in their 20th century sleep units. He can even design a missile around them but can't wake them up! Riiiiight.

Don't get me started on the plot contrivances that yielded a mini "Wrath of Khan" redo with Kirk and Spock switching places in the story. "Contrived" doesn't begin to describe it. "Crap" does, though.

Enough is enough.


When the Harrison character in Into Darkness eventually revealed himself to be Khan, something snapped in my head. JJ Abrams had insisted that lily-white Cumberbatch wasn't playing Khan. Cumberbatch, himself, had insisted that he wasn't playing Khan. Only he was. But Khan COULD NOT look like Benedict Cumberbatch! He couldn't SOUND like Benedict Cumberbatch! That would just be stupid, right?

Correct. And so the straw that broke the camel's back snapped in my head and I no longer gave a damn about what happened in this silly, stupid piece of shit movie that was Star Trek In Name Only as far as I was concerned. It all played out in one silly action sequence after another, none of which made sense in any way but were simply woven together to get lots of things to go "bang" and to show pretty lights and explosions. It was the movie version of jangling keys in front of a baby. They don't require content, either.

I won't be missing out


I can hear you now. But, Don, you might miss out on a great movie!!" you're no doubt saying. But that's not possible, in this writer's opinion. There's a doctrine that states that fruit of the poisonous tree is tainted. And so it is with Star Trek Beyond. Any story that is based on the characters we've seen so far holds no interest for me. For me, it is not possible to have a good Trek film based on a Kirk that doesn't deserve his position and has displayed such poor judgement over and over. In short, it features characters that I just don't care about.

It can't be good since there are magic transporters that negate the need of a starship altogether and magic blood that has conquered death itself. The first time you see the Enterprise, ask yourself this: since they have the magic transporters, why is there an Enterprise at all? Will there be a line of dialog that explains those universe-shaking concepts away? I doubt it.

Given the way the first two films have gone, I can only imagine what piece of magical technology will be created to help the plot in Beyond. A Magic Tricorder that can tell the future?

If only that were a stretch.

I'll save my money. And my sanity.

LLAP.

Don