- Trek Galaxy's Voyager Tribute -
By Gregory L. Norris & Laura A. Van Vleet exclusively for TrekGalaxy.
Day 01 - The Journey Begins - Gregory and Laura go to Hollywood
Our adventure to cover the end of the adventure begins! Laura boards the plane to LA on Saturday, the 3rd of March. Greg follows the day after, just before a snowstorm will drop 30 inches of white on his home north of Boston, Massachusetts. Laura gets to the hotel and begins pre-set visit work; organizing tapes, film, the digital camera, vitamins, maps, and getting a sense of location and the landscape. By the time Greg joins her, they are ready to tackle the Delta Quadrant, perhaps for the last time.
Greg boards a direct flight from Boston to LAX at 7:30 the next morning, lost in a sea of travellers eagerly scrambling to escape the snowstorm. The lines at Delta Airlines - an odd and enjoyable coincidence seeming to herald that this assignment will be the biggest and best of their career yet - snake around the check-in counter. He reaches the terminal with a scant five minutes to board the plane, only to find himself sitting right next to former seaQuest DSV actor John D'Aquino ("Benjamin Krieg"). John was in Boston attending the birthday of a good friend, and had a seat on the flight a mere few rows up from Greg. Greg is a Year One seaQuest junky and intro'ed himself. He learned John is starring in a new Comedy Central series lampooning the current state of politics in America called That's My Bush. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the irreverents who gave us South Park, are doing it. Greg, who with Laura is a TV writer at CINESCAPE Magazine, handed over the latest ish containing a full retrospective on the classic series Lost in Space and a one-on-one interview with Voyager captain Kate Mulgrew. John reads the Mulgrew story with great interest.
"She's really lovely," he says. "How well do you know her?"
Greg explains that since first interviewing Kate Mulgrew in '97, Norris & Van Vleet have built an excellent professional friendship with the actress, who recently wrote the foreword for the duo's new book, STAR DATES, a collection of one hundred interviews with some of the brightest stars of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. "I do not think that I have met two writers in my seven years on Voyager for whom I have more respect in regard to their tenacity, their perspicacity, their talent, and their humanity," Kate wrote recently. By the end of the flight, Greg has interviewed John for the book - for his work on seaQuest, Sliders, Xena, and Quantum Leap, he'd earned his own chapter!
The flight lands without incident on an overcast Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. After exchanging contact info with John and planning on lunch the next day, Greg meets his driver at the baggage collection carousel, boards the Lincoln town car, and heads to Hollywood, where his awesome writing partner awaits!
Laura and I have quite a history with Star Trek, but in particular, Voyager. In '97, when we formed our creative partnership, our very first celebrity interview together was with the lovely Roxann Dawson, who plays Chief Engineer 'B'Elanna Torres' on Voyager, for the Sci-Fi Channel's SCI-FI ENTERTAINMENT Magazine, during a time when the actress was pregnant with her daughter, Emma Rose. Ms. Dawson wasn't giving interviews at that time, though somehow, she consented to ours. A week later, we were asked to take over the regular "Channel News" column at the magazine, and our career as Trek TV journalists began. In rapid succession, we interviewed Leonard Nimoy, Bill Shatner, John DeLancie, Voyager creator Jeri Taylor, scribe Nick Sagan, and the awesome Kate Mulgrew herself on a cold, overcast day, March 18, 1998.
After covering Jeri Taylor's retirement, we also began pitching episodes to the producers of the fourth Star Trek series. 150 ideas and several months later, we sold the first, a pitch where the lost starship became an Underground Railroad to save persecuted people from a dangerous, militant race. Described as, "Anne Frank in Outer Space", the story was developed into the episode "Counterpoint", Kate Mulgrew's favourite of the series' seven year run. Two weeks later, a second pitch about members of Voyager's crew trapped in a gravity well was purchased. It became the ultimate Tuvok story, "Gravity."
Since then, our paths and Star Trek: Voyager's have been inexorably intertwined. We've routinely spoken with the cast and producers, broken major news stories on upcoming episodes, a new, fifth Trek series, and even the first details straight from new Executive Producer Ken Biller on the upcoming Voyager finale, which will pit the intrepid crew of NCC-74656 against Trek arch-nemesis, the Borg.
And soon, here, it will end where Voyager began, at Stage 8 on the Paramount Studios lot.
It rains that first day in Hollywood - a strange and rare occurrence in the land where the sun is always supposed to be shining. Laura and I are so excited - and slightly pensive about the visit, knowing it will signal something of an ending for our involvement with this series, which we have grown to love so much. We head out for coffee and something to eat, passing down Hollywood's Walk of Fame. A plethora of Science Fiction greats greets us - Lorne Greene, June Lockhart, director Robert Wise, all memorialized on the sidewalk. On one stretch of Hollywood Boulevard a few blocks before Mann's Theater, a galaxy of Trek names appears. Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Gene Roddenberry all pass underfoot. We will stop back on a sunny day and take pictures of us with the pink granite and gold stars set in black marble (and of course, kneeling beside Leonard Nimoy's, we flash the Vulcan hand sign).
"Do you believe we're actually going to be on the set?" I ask Laura.
Jokingly, she says, "Shut up," to assuage both our nerves. We drink coffee, relax, and savour our time here together, time that will soon land us on Voyager's bridge with the cast and crew.
Halfway through the meal, she says, "I can't believe we're going to be on the set."
"Shut up," I laugh. The following morning, again overcast, we wake to a call from Candice Clark, a publicist at UPN, informing us we have a pre-set telephone interview with Kate Mulgrew to discuss the end of Voyager's journey. Luckily, Laura brought along her speakerphone. We wrestle it into the hotel's phone line, set up our tape recorders, dial Kate's office, and as we sit there, coffee in hand, comfy in our pyjamas, and ready for a day full of promise and adventure, we hear her familiar voice.
"Hello, my two lovelies - it's good to speak with you again!"