A black, empty void, suddenly illuminated by thousands of swirling, fleeting bits of random starlight. Two powerful arc beams race across the darkness capturing in alchemical light the words proclaiming: STAR TREK LIVES!
Seven thousand T-shirted, poster-hugging, young, old and in-between "Trekkies" roar with anticipation and victory as a familiar voice intones, "Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages . . ."
It's the promise of cosmic adventure (a "five-year mission to explore strange, new words") these fans learned long ago to love, but for now they're happy to settle for $5-to$7 seats at Saturday's "World of Star Trek" show at the Capital Centre, and a chance to see first-hand the show's producer-creator, Gene Roddenberry.
Roddenberry bears good news. "This time we are going to complete the full five-year voyage," he says, standing behind a Plexiglas lectern under the "Star Trek Lives" banner, "Paramount Pictures (owner of the rights and licenses) and I have come to a bloody agreement, you are hearing it from the boss."
Though it was announced in July that a new "Star Trek" would be forthcoming after a nine-year interruption, it is not until they hear it from Roddenberry himself that the "Trekkies" seem to believe it.
"Star Trek II is underway. We are in actual pre-production work," he says. Filming is scheduled to begin in November, with completition in February of a two-hour, made-for-TV to be televised in the spring or fall of 1978. The film is the first part of a 13-hour, $7-million package being readied by Roddenberry of Paramount, which will offer the series to independent stations on a "Star Trek ii" network.
Paramount, Roddenberry said later interest in using the revived Star "the inside" details during the in-pr-
Paramount, Roddenberry said later in an interview, has expressed some terest in using the revived Star Trek series as a possible way of setting up a fully independent seven-day-a-week fourth network.
Plans call for the program to be offered in major cities by bidding system similiar to that established by Norman Lear for "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." Roddenberry expects Paramount will aim for a time slot between 7 and 9 p.m. on Fridays.
Dressed in a stylish, pale blue suit, the 56-year-old former combat pilot and Los Angeles policeman offers "the inside" details during the in-ptrson fanzine appearance. During the nearly one-hour long session, Roddenberry tells the audience "that I got off the phone four days ago with Bill Shatner (who portrayed Captain James T. Kirk) and we had a 'telephone handshake.' I believe he is coming back (in the role)."
Attempts to entice Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed the half-Vulcan, pointy eared science officer Mr. Spock, have not met with any success. Nimoy, has refused all offers to return to the role. But, Roddenberry adds, he hopes to convince Nimoy to return in a guest spot to the revived series.
All other principal actors and any technicians from the series, which is now seen in reruns in over 60 countries, will be returning.
Star Trek premiered on NBC in September 1966, in lineup that included "Hey Landlord," "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.," and 'T.H.E. Cat." After two unspectacularly rated seasons, the program was canceled by network officials. That decision was commuted for one year in response to a massive letter-writing campaign by its fans. The sophisticated science-fiction programs' "phaser weapons" and "force fields" proved useless, however, against prime-time pressure and its 78 one-hour episodes were ordered into syndicated reruns.
Addressing himself to the current science-fiction vogue, Roddenberry said he wouldn't "object terribly if that sign up there said 'Star Wars Lives,' or '2001 Lives.'"
"What we're in for in movies and television is a deluge. Some of the names I've heard being registered are Space Cop, and Space Detective. How much of it will be good? If I may I'd like to quote (sci-fi writer Theodore) Sturgeon's Law: '90 per cent of everything is crap.' Television seems to bear that out."
Before embarking on his one-week speaking tour, Roddenberry attended the Mojave Desert test flight of the space shuttle "Enterprise," which he describes as "the first crude Wright Brothers airplane of space."
"2001: A Space Odyssey' said it. We are only living on this ancestral egg. We belong anywhere we can get. We are living in the most exciting time humanity has ever known."
Displaying slides that show some of the prelimary construction and preparation work on the new series, he offers tidbits, gossip and teasers to the audience, revealing.
The U.S.S. Enterprise will remain the same general configurations. Exceptions will be a new three story-high engineering section, a larger bridge area and the inclusion of "heads". (Toilets, which Roddenberry attributes to Archie Bunker, who made them aceptable for TV).
Increased emphasis on visuals. Plans call for use of laser science and holography, with Paramount firmly committed to spending upward of half a million dollars on each of the one-hour episodes.
Two new principals will be added to the cast, including Xon (pronounced Zon) a pure Vulcan science officer. A woman alien, Ilia, will be "as startling as anything you've ever seen on TV."
Scripts are being prepared by science-fiction writers Theodore Sturgeon and Harlan Ellison.
Additionally, Richard (Jonath Livingston Seagull) Bach has turned in two scripts which are "excellent one involving a planet Earth parallel world based on a warlike nature."
Roddenberry believes that a feature-length motion picture of Star Trek will be made after the television commitments are completed.
Prompted by a friend, he confessed to having seen "Star Wars," twice. He admits to enjoying it, but adds, "currently the film I keep hearing about is 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' which promises to be a picture unto itself."
Preparing at the end of the performance to go to a cocktail party with a guest list made up of high ranking NASA and Energy Research and Development personnel, Roddenberry invites someone to accompany him on the last leg of the tour to Nashville.
"That'll be some story for you," the gray-haired producer winked, "Star Trek goes to the Grand Ole Opry."