Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sulu Gets a Promotion: The Starlog Project: Starlog #174, January 1992

Though Steven Spielberg’s overblown Hook film is the cover feature this month, the real news is contained in that “roof text” above the logo: “Gene Roddenberry 1921-1991.” Obviously the news arrived too late to do much to note it this month, so other than the cover text and a brief sidebar in the Medialog page, you’ll have to wait until #175, when the editors produce a 100-page issue with a large memorial to the Star Trek creator.

None of this should detract from the fact that Hook was typical Hollywood schtick, where you know beat-for-beat what emotional changes are going to happen before they happen, where you know what action has to take place and in what order (always save the big baddie for last!), where you know Robin Williams was miscast. Just because it’s aimed toward young people doesn’t mean it has to be lazy screenwriting and directing, Steve.

Not that I have an opinion.

Starlog #174
80 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.50

BTW: This is (unless my memory is rusty) the last $4.50 Starlog we’ll ever see. Next issue is a special extra-pages salute to Gene Roddenberry, and after that the magazine settles into a higher cover price, with a few added pages.

The rundown: None other than Dustin Hoffman is featured on this issue’s cover, in his guise as Captain Hook; but Starlog reaches back in time about a decade for a shot from John Carpenter’s The Thing to illustrate its contents page. Is it just me, or are the letters in Starlog’s Communications section getting longer? Across four pages, there are a grand total of five letters in small type, and they cover everything from recent Time Tunnel articles to Terminator 2-inspired political ruminations to more time-travel ideas, plus Mike Fisher’s Creature Feature is the War of the Worlds alien.

David McDonnell’s Medialog dispels some rumors about a revived Doctor Who, plus there's a four-paragraph sidebar noting the passing of Star Trek’s “Great Bird of the Galaxy,” Gene Roddenberry; Booklog reviews Ecce and Old Earth, The Dragon Reborn, Black Sun, Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede, Winds of Fate, Alien Tongue, and The Jungle; David Hutchison’s Videolog notes the release of the short-lived Dinosaurs sitcom on video; Fan Network includes Lia Pelosi’s fan club directory and a convention calendar; in his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn unearths The Best of Frederic Brown; and in the Tribute section, Tom Weaver remembers the late Frank Capra and Don Siegel, Anthony Timpone says good-bye to John Hoyt, and Ian Spelling does the honors for Wilfrid Hyde-White.

Starlog uses Patrick Stewart’s one-man Christmas Carol stage play as the foundation for Lynne Stephens’ interview with the Star Trek: The Next Generation star; meanwhile, Leonard Nimoy gives his possible-maybe Star Trek exit interview to Marc Shapiro; Tom Weaver reports on Dark Horse Comics’ new The Thing comic book; Ian Spelling writes the cover story, an interview with Hook screenwriter Jim Hart; and Ian Spelling interviews “Captain Sulu,” George Takei, whose character has finally been promoted to captain and given his own ship (but we never would get a Sulu-led TV series, as was occasionally rumored).

Christopher Lambert tells Marc Shapiro about his co-starring role in the largely unloved sequel Highlander II: The Quickening; don’t call it a RoboCop ripoff: Bill Wilson goes behind the scenes of Super Force (previously known as Super Cop), a television program that allegedly “proved popular in syndication, ranking in the top 15 first-run shows" (then why don’t I remember ever hearing about it?); interplanetary correspondent Michael Wolff and illustrator George Kochell look at Santa-themed fantasy films; Bill Warren checks in with writer George Clayton Johnson, who discusses his work on The Twilight Zone, Logan’s Run, and other productions, including his brief stint as an actor; Mark Phillips talks to actor Michael Dante, who guest-starred in the classic Star Trek episode “Friday’s Child”; and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes is a bit of a hodgepodge, ranging from asking for more subscribers to comments on fiction magazines to announcing “that inevitable, all-color Star Trtek VI: The Undiscovered Country Official Movie Magazine."
“In the mid-60s, [writer George Clayton] Johnson also made his movie debut as an actor – in fact, he made his only movie as an actor. Roger Corman had bought Charles Beaumont’s novel The Intruder, intending to make his first truly serious film out of the novel of Southern racial unrest. ‘Chuck [Beaumont] ... having sold this thing, was advised that he could come and watch it being shot, and he could even play a part. And the next thing we knew, Roger Corman is saying, “Why don’t you bring along a couple of your friends?”’ Beaumont, Johnson and William F. Nolan found themselves in steamy-hot Missouri playing supporting roles to William Shatner in The Intruder. (Many regard this as Shatner’s best performance.) Johnson and Nolan were a couple of nasty, racist rednecks who try to stop the arrival of civil rights in their Southern city; they’re actually both quite good in their roles, particularly Johnson as a giggling psychopath who seems just this side of a moron. ‘I practiced slouching around like the lout I grew up to be as a child in Cheyenne, and trying to play the Fonz in my own slovenly way.’”
–George Clayton Johnson, writer, interviewed by Bill Warren: “His Own Man”
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.
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