Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #162, January 1991: LeVar Burton in the Spotlight

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Geordi La Forge is one of the characters that started out on that show in a relatively ignored status, but who grew and grew as the show went on, the cast evolved, and as actor LeVar Burton proved he had the acting chops to be more than a navigator saying, “Yes, Captain!” when told to “Engage!”

Worf’s role also grew dramatically throughout ST:TNG (and Deep Space Nine). It makes you figure that Denise Crosby was way too impatient to be complaining about a lack of opportunity with her Tasha Yar character in the middle of the first year. Clearly, her character would have expanded and matured and gotten her day in the sun.

A little magazine business talk: This is the second issue Starlog has published since increasing its cover price (from $3.95 to $4.50). It doesn’t add pages (yet; that’s coming), but it does add one color to its black-and-white pages (the non-glossy paper pages). So these pages are (in publishing lingo) B&W +1. It’s a nice addition, though Starlog – as Starlog is wont to do – overdoes it, larding many of these pages with the extra color (which changes each issue, sometimes a light green, sometimes a blue, sometimes – eek – a yellow).

It’s kind of interesting that the magazine added this on the second issue with the higher price. Usually, you add it on the first issue (or sometimes the last issue of the lower price), so the reader isn’t ever left with that feeling of shelling out more money and getting nothing for it. Who knows; maybe there was a mixup in the executive suite of Starlog and they raised the cover price before they had all their ducks in a row. But even if the addition of color is a delayed improvement, it’s still an improvement. And in a few issues, they’ll even throw in four more pages, so get out your party dress!

Starlog #162
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.50

Some classified ads are just more interesting than others. Case in point: “AT LAST, A guide you can buy about a gravity driven mother ship. Write for free information ...”

The rundown: LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge is the cover man; meanwhile, a somewhat meaner character, the Predator, is featured on the contents page. Communications letters rip apart RoboCop 2, genre journalist Paul Mandell gives an extended expert response to Steve Swires’ interview with Ray Harryhausen’s producing partner Charles Schneer (in Starlogs #150-152), plus Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile comic features The Ymir; and David McDonnell’s Medialog column informs us of planned sequels to Moontrap, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, Beastmaster, and The Terror Within.

Marc Shapiro interviews LeVar Burton about his role as the chief engineer on Star Trek: The Next Generation (Burton notes, “Making Georgie Chief Engineer and moving him to another part of the ship was great because it gave him a responsibility that’s integral to each and every story”); David Hutchison’s Videolog column notes the latest genre video releases, including the apparently much-hated Robocop 2; William B. Thompson profiles writer Robert Jordan (The Great Hunt, The Eye of the World, and others); Steve Swires talks with 79-year-old director Val Guest about the Quatermass films and other productions in his career; Marc Shapiro interviews actor Kent McCord, who discusses Predator 2, Adam 12, and Galactica 1980 (including how the show morphed from a planned riff on The Day the Earth Stood Still to a show in which alien kids played baseball); Robert Pegg talks to screenwriter Caroline Thompson about Edward Scissorhands; and the Fan Network pages include Lia Pelosi’s directory of fan publications and clubs (this is your chance to get in touch with West Germany’s Knight Rider fan club).

Marc Shapiro profiles Quantum Leap star Dean Stockwell (“I always liked the idea that Al was the equivalent of a desk sergeant who sends the other cops out to arrest the bad guys”); Bill Warren previews She-Wolf, a TV series from former Starlog correspondents Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin (with a sidebar in which the two discuss writing for Beauty & the Beast); Dan Yakir gets Patrick Swayze to discuss his role as Ghost’s ghost; Mark Phillips interviews actor Liam Sullivan, who guest starred in the original Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” (which featured the first interracial kiss on slow-to-the-gate American television); continuing the magazine’s coverage of the 1960’s TV series Land of the Giants, Mark Phllips profiles actor Don Matheson (with a sidebar chat with Giants writer Esther Mitchell); After he made his mark as Benny in L.A. Law, Larry Drake starred as the villain in Darkman, which he discusses with Kyle Counts; in his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn goes back home for a Texas-sized Star Trek convention, including taking George Takei out for bar-b-que; and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes column tells us about the revived Starlog Festivals.
“The last sequence of the film was the confrontation with the creature in Westminster Abbey. It was imperative that Jack [Warner] – who had been right through the picture as Inspector Lomax – was in that final scene. Yet, the night before we shot it, the assistant director told me, ‘You can’t have Jack Warner tomorrow. [Producer] Tony Hinds won’t pay his salary for the day.’ I said, ‘You must be joking. It’s the last scene in the film. This man has tracked down the creature through the whole movie. He is the one person who must be there.’ ‘Tony isn’t going to pay for him,’ the assistant director said. ‘He’s off the pay list.’ I told him, ‘You go to Tony, and tell him I will personally pay Jack’s salary for the day. He has to be on set tomorrow.’”
–Val Guest, director, interviewed by Steve Swires: “The Quatermass Conductor”
To see more issues, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit The Starlog Project’s permanent home.

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