Friday, April 28, 2006


Hi, guys --

Elaine and I just got back from an amazing trip to upstate New York, where my keynote address at the Serling Symposium and our visit to the STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES sets in Ticonderoga went wonderfully well.

Above you see me posing in the Captain's chair on the marvelous 360-degree Enterprise bridge set with James Cawley (Kirk), Jeff Quin (Spock) and Dr. John Kelly (McCoy).
This was quite a bit of deja vu for me, as I actually visited the original STAR TREK sets when I was twelve years old, during the filming of the last episode, "Turnabout Intruder."

Elaine and I arrived just in time to see the NEW VOYAGES cast finish pick-up shots for their Chekov episode written by famed TREK writer and story editor D.C. FONTANA. It was an incredibly good-natured and collaborative team -- as exemplified by the fact that when we came on set Mr. Spock was working the boom mike for the scene between McCoy and young Chekov (Andy Bray)!

Afterwards, we retired to our marvelous bed and breakfast and hung out with cast and crew, including Jeff, who hadn't had time to remove his Vulcan ears -- quite a picture for the NATIONAL ENQUIRER -- "Mr. Spock Hits the Skids!"

Next day, Elaine and I had time to run improvs and scene study with James Cawley and Jeff Quinn, both of whom proved quite adept and moving in their work. I'm eagerly awaiting directing the episode Michael Reaves and I wrote, "World Enough and Time," starring George Takei, which will be shooting in September.

Meetings with the NEW VOYAGES crew proved equally thrilling. Quite a good-hearted, enthusiastic and talented bunch.

On our final day, James Cawley took us on a tour of Fort Ticonderoga, which has an amazing history dating from the American Revolution and before.

All in all, a trip spanning both centuries past and centuries future... with great company all round.


Thursday, April 27, 2006


Hi, guys --

Well, Elaine and I just got back from our whirlwind trip to upstate New York. We had an amazing time, and it was a joy to see such gorgeous terrain, even if it tended to be a tad rainy while we were there.

The main purpose of the trip was to attend the First Annual Rod Serling Symposium held at Ithaca College. Rod vacationed in Ithaca and actually taught writing in the summers there from the mid-Sixties until his death in 1975. In fact, Cayuga Productions, the company that produced THE TWILIGHT ZONE, was named after Ithaca’s Cayuga Lake.

Our first full day there, Elaine and I spoke to several classes of film students, then admired five of Serling’s six Emmys in a display case (for the record, he won two for TWILIGHT ZONE, one for PATTERNS, one for REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT, one for the PLAYHOUSE 90 episode THE COMEDIAN, and one for the BOB HOPE CHRYSLER THEATER presentation of “It’s Mental Work”).

Ithaca College’s Gordon Webb treated us to a splendid breakfast, then his wife Cathy drove us around town for a tour. We’re very tempted to buy a house there to write part of the year (prices are far lower than Los Angeles’ crazy heights).

Then in the evening, we enjoyed a banquet and I was able to catch up with CAROL SERLING, Rod’s widow and executor of his estate, and Rod’s daughters JODY and ANNE. Elaine and I had dined with Carol recently, but we hadn’t seen the kids in over twenty years, so it was quite a treat to talk with them again. It meant quite a lot to hear how complimentary they were about THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION.

In addition, I met Anne’s sixteen-year-old son SAM, Rod’s grandson (here with his mom Anne and myself).

Then finally that night, the event I was nervously awaiting – my keynote address on Rod Serling. When I’d asked Gordon some time earlier how long he wanted me to talk, he said two and a half hours. I swallowed my gum!

Fortunately, I had adequate time to prepare. I decided I would take my audience on a journey paralleling Rod’s career with the history of television and my own journey from writing the book through to working in TV. In essence, I was determined to point out that Rod not only changed television history with THE TWILIGHT ZONE but also essentially created the modern television showrunner, where the WRITER runs the show; beyond this, Rod was the direct inspiration and high-water mark for many of the top creators of TV drama in the last forty years, from J.J. Abrams (LOST, ALIAS) and Joe Straczynski (BABYLON 5) to Ron Moore (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), Joss Whedon (BUFFY), Chris Carter (X-FILES) and beyond.

So for over two hours I addressed an audience of well over a hundred people and showed clips from the first TZ pilot “The Time Element” (which aired on DESILU PLAYHOUSE), all five seasons of TWILIGHT ZONE and scenes from shows I written such as BEYOND REALITY, DEEP SPACE NINE and SLIDERS (not in any way to equate myself with Rod – who was truly incomparable – but rather as illustrations of his enduring influence over many series).

The speech went over very well, and people were quite complimentary to me. NPR was there for interviews, as was a San Francisco radio station.

The next day, I sat in on several panels and signed copies of THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION. Elaine and I also had time to grab a lunch with NICK SAGAN, novelist and writer for STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION and STAR TREK VOYAGER, and his wife C.J., also a novelist. I'd known NIck since he was sixteen, but hadn't seen him in recent times since he'd moved to Ithaca. It was great to spend some time together.

Then the next morning, it was off to Ticonderoga to see the STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES sets and work with the actors.

More to come...


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Hi, guys --

This upcoming Friday, I'm going to be giving the keynote address at the Rod Serling Symposium at Ithaca College, and Elaine and I will be also be speaking to several classes of film students and sitting in on some TWILIGHT ZONE-oriented panels. I'm currently culling through clips of different Serling shows and rarities from my collection that I'll be screening at my talk. You can learn more about the Serling symposium by logging on to

After the symposium, Elaine and I will be heading up to Ticonderoga to check out the STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES sets and start working with more of the actors, in preparation for my directing the "World Enough And Time" episode starring George Takei, which Michael Reaves and I just wrote.

A cool sidenote: Combing through my scrapbooks, I just came across some photos from the party I threw in 1981 to celebrate my completion of writing THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION 25 years ago(!). Pictured here are my younger self with Carol Serling and the TWILIGHT ZONE cake.

Also pictured are me with Michael Reaves and fellow writer Buzz Dixon (both of whom are still members of my Round Table and look much the same).
And finally -- there's George Takei!

Amazing how things come around. Just goes to show I had great friends and associates then and still do.

Report from New York shortly...


Saturday, April 08, 2006


Well, it’s been a great week.

George Takei read our STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES script “World Enough, And Time” and loved it! Here’s what he had to say: “Bravo! Bravo! What a stellar work of drama you have written! The science fiction concept of an accelerated time glitch is fascinating. The tension and jeopardy is electric. Above of all, the moving and poignant human relationships are wrenchingly moving. I had tears in my eyes. I feel so privileged and wonderfully challenged to be able to work with you on this script. We are going to have a great time… I’m so excited by this project. These rich opportunities are so few and far between. I’m grateful to you guys. I can’t wait until September.”

A few days back, Michael and I (that’s us in the above picture, taken in my office today) lunched with George at the Universal Studios dining room (where I spent many a day eating back when I was producing SLIDERS on the Universal lot). It was a marvelous and convivial time, abetted by Doug Drexler, one of our NEW VOYAGES Exec Producers and the marvelous FX wizard both on our show and on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. Ryan James, our crack videographer, recorded it all for posterity.

Following this, Elaine and I got together today with three of our cast -- John Kelly (Dr. McCoy), Julienne Irons (Uhura) and Andy Bray (young Chekhov) -- to start the rehearsal process, beginning with improvs and scene work from sample scripts Elaine and I have written, including the HOMICIDE spec that landed Elaine and myself a partnership with Tom Fontana on a pilot project we wrote and produced a few years back. Michael Reaves was in attendance, as was our second videographer, Neil Kaplan. Elaine was an actor and director herself for many years Off-Broadway and in fact went to drama school with STAR TREK’s own David Gerrold (“The Trouble With Tribbles”), so it was great to have her working directorially with the actors to limber up the old acting muscles. A very talented bunch all round, and a great thrill to be working with them.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to start prepping the keynote speech I’m giving at the Rod Serling Symposium at Ithaca College in two weeks. More on that shortly…