It may not be evident from the record-breaking box office grosses, but the man in charge of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" is the self-described "new kid on the block" when it comes to the Starship Enterprise and its passengers. Nicholas Meyer had previous experience writing ("The Seven Percent Solution") and directing ("Time After Time"); what he lacked was any track record, or even more than a passing acquaintance, with "Star Trek." "Because I was new to all of it and they were working with characters they'd created years ago, I think they did test me a little bit at the start," says Meyer. "I'd make a suggestion and Leonard Nimoy would say, 'Are you sure that's what you want?' Or Bill Shatner would sigh and shake his head. And some of the things in this story are uncomfortable: you ask people to play the subject of age and aging, and it can be a threatening idea."

But Meyer says the old hands at "Star Trek" were generally a cooperative batch, and they let him know that on the first day of shooting. "That day, Bill Shatner came up to me and said, 'We love you, so whatever you want, we'll try and give it to you.' And they did."

Meyer was relaying all this good news not from a Hollywood office, where he could easily afford to sit back and watch the film break box office records; rather, he was calling from a phone booth in a gas station in Weston, Mo. In Weston--a small town outside Kansas City--Meyer was already at work scouting locations for his next project, which centers more on potential science fact than science fiction. "It's going to be a very heavy docudrama about nuclear holocaust," he says. "We're going to show what it will be like after the bomb drops, and I'm out here looking for locations because in the film Kansas City will be destroyed." The movie, to be titled "Silence in Heaven," won't be a big screen release, though; Meyer is planning on making it a four-hour television movie, which will be aired "sometime next year, if we can get it on the air." Filming starts in August with a cast made up entirely of unknowns--"so it will seem real," he says. "This one's not for my career. This one's for my conscience."