"Star Trek" veteran boldly saved movie franchise

Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:36am EDT
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By Martin A. Grove

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Had Paramount put a number on this summer's successful "Star Trek" reboot it would have been XI, an instant indication of just how valuable the franchise has become.

Those 11 installments have grossed more than $1 billion domestically since 1979, including $256 million from the new one. It's a success story that might never have happened had Nicholas Meyer not come on board for 1982's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" when the series' future was in doubt.

Meyer's recollections about directing "Khan" and 1991's "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" and co-writing 1986's "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" are among the best chapters in "The View From the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood," just published by Viking.

It's an engaging read that's all the better for his insights into directing "The Day After," which aired November 20, 1983, on ABC and vividly dealt with a fictional nuclear attack on Kansas. Meyer also writes about adapting his best-selling novel "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution," for which he was Oscar-nominated in 1977, and making his directorial debut with 1979's "Time After Time."

When it was suggested that without him there might never have been a "Star Trek" movie franchise, Meyer replied, "I would like to think so. I am, as I concede in the book, vain enough to want to think so. But I'm not 100% certain."

Why not? "How many more scripts were they prepared to lay out money for to try to get a second 'Star Trek' movie if what I had done hadn't worked?" Had Paramount been willing to keep on spending, he added, they'd have eventually come up with something.

Meyer's childhood friend Karen Moore, then a Paramount executive, suggested that since he wanted to direct he should meet Harve Bennett, who was producing the second feature spinoff from Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek" TV series.

"That was sort of love at first sight. I didn't really know what 'Star Trek' was. I might not have hung around to find out, I suppose, if I hadn't liked him so much."   Continued...

<p>Actors Zoe Saldana (L) and Chris Pine pose on the red carpet during the German premiere of the movie "Star Trek" in Berlin, April 16, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>