Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Hi, guys --

Just wanted to let you all know that we just held auditions for the guest roles in the STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES episode Michael Reaves and I wrote that I'm directing, "World Enough and Time." The actresses we read were all fantastic, and it was great fun working with them and seeing how well they took direction, and how moved they were by the script.

Michael Reaves and my wife, writer-producer Elaine Zicree, and I were there for the auditions. Elaine -- who had been a director and actress for many years Off-Broadway -- was of great help in working with the actors, giving them insightful suggestions that aided them in accessing the deep emotions needed for the scenes. (I'm going to keep her right there with me through the entire process of directing this sucker!)

George Takei was kind enough to let us read one actress in his home, actually playing Sulu (and even Captain Kirk!) in scenes with her. And it payed off -- this actress was nothing short of AMAZING.

And small wonder. It was LESLIE SILVA, who was a lead on the recent Showtime series ODYSSEY 5, created by ENTERPRISE Executive Producer MANNY COTO. In the audition, Leslie lent the role of ALANA a depth and variety that was just spectacular, breathtaking.

So once all the deliberations were made, I called Leslie and told her she'd won the part! She was thrilled.

So on Friday, Leslie will be meeting with IAIN McCAIG and his daughter MEESHEE, who will both be designing her and George's costumes and overall look. Iain, you may recall, was a lead designer on the last three STAR WARS films, and created the looks of DARTH MAUL and QUEEN AMIDALA.

Wow, what a team!

The fun is just beginning...


Check out today's HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. There's an article announcing four upcoming films based on the unmade projects of RAY HARRYHAUSEN that I'll be executive producing and also writing part of.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Hi, guys --

Elaine and I just attended WEST WING writer-producer MARK GOFFMAN's play ME TOO at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood tonight and I wanted to highly recommend it.

It might accurately be titled LOVE IN THE TIME OF CANCER, and it stars WONDER YEAR's DANICA McKELLAR (all grown up now and still a terrific actress) and JEREMY GLAZER (who'll be in CLINT EASTWOOD's new movie RED SUN, BLACK SAND) as a young couple struggling to find belonging with each other as they endure all that life can throw at them.

I've known Mark since before he was on WEST WING, and it's no surprise that this young man can write such a moving, funny, heartfelt and truthful play. Mark's next gig is as a writer-producer on AARON SORKIN's new series STUDIO 60, and I can't wait to see what further marvels this gifted young man comes up with.

The play runs for the next six weeks, so run to it! Danica will only be in it for the next three, before other commitments intrude, but with any cast this play is a winner.

Until next time...


Friday, May 19, 2006


Just wrote this for the Scriptwriters Expo attendees. It goes over a lot of the basics. (By the way, that's me with FRANK DARABONT, director of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GREEN MILE, and the inimitable RAY BRADBURY.)

Hi, guys --

I promised yesterday to send you the straight dope on selling scripts and making movies. The article follows the info below..

As mentioned previously (and someone asked for the list in an email today), Elaine and I -- the Supermentors -- offer the following services:

1. SUPERMENTORS WEEK CLASS IN WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA. Limited to ten students. $699.





Feel free to email or call us (323) 363-1259. You can read more at www.zicree.com and www.supermentors.com

And now on with how to make you into the next Spielberg, Lucas or even Ed Wood...


By Marc Scott Zicree

Okay, so here’s where we all started – we saw movies when we were five years old, ten, fifteen, twenty, and it changed our lives forever, filled our heads with romance and adventure, with places near and far, with amazing, exotic, beautiful, profound, unforgettable characters – and more than that, taught us how to live our lives, what heroism meant, and loyalty, and friendship, and love. Movies defined our lives, served as our common mythology. Movies made us, all of us, who we deeply are.

And so now we want to be PART of that, not just on the receiving end, but using this, the most powerful and magnificent art form of the 20th and 21st centuries, to tell OUR stories, to reach out to others, to move and change and uplift and enlighten them (not to mention entertain and delight), just as we ourselves were enriched, were made better, truer, more rounded human beings. Movies allow us not just to live OUR lives, but those of so many others. We contain worlds, thanks to movies.

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s a terrific thrill to see one’s work on the big screen, sitting in the dark with hundreds of others, to be able to go into any video store in the country, indeed any place in the world, and know your work is there, that it has moved others, that you have taken a truth from your own life and communicated it well and effectively to others, that you have created something new that never existed before, something that will live on far beyond your own life.

Pretty cool, huh?

So okay, nuts and bolts, where to start?

The first question to ask yourself is, “Do I want to sell a script or make a movie?”

These are two radically different questions, and they relate to the kind of life and career you want. But here’s a piece of advice – the more you take power, the better things generally will go.

Or to be more specific, let’s lay out two scenarios, both stemming from this initial premise: you have a story that you want to tell as a movie, that’s how you see it in your head.

So, scenario one, you sell it as a script:

Now, before you even do that, READ scripts, get the format right, you might choose FINAL DRAFT or MOVIE MAGIC as your screenwriting format. A script should be no more than 120 pages, 110 is better. It should have lean descriptive passages, not big blocks of text (assume a reader is only reading the dialogue and skipping the rest; make it easy for them to get the info). The dialogue should be distinctive, human, with varied voices (everyone doesn’t talk the same). Cast each character in your mind with folks who have distinctive vocal styles – either actors, friends or family members. Don’t write clichés – if a scene bores you, it will bore everyone else. Make sure there’s something interesting and fresh on every page. Ideally, every scene should advance plot, character and theme (though that’s not always possible with every scene). Avoid exposition; i.e., flat recitation of story facts (“As you know, Chalmers, the device you hold in your hand can cause the core of the earth to implode…”). Be INTERESTING.

Before you ship it, have a professional writer read it and give you feedback. Make sure it’s as good as you can possibly make it. This person should have made a living as a writer, ideally have SOLD their own scripts. The teachers at UCLA Extension fit that category. So do Elaine and I.

But NEVER send out a script if it isn’t ready. And don’t try to sell a pitch, unless you have a really strong writing sample ready. They need to know you can WRITE. (You’re in it for the long-term career, not the one sale.)

And remember the great rule of Hollywood – EVERYONE HATES TO READ.

That’s why most executives don’t read the scripts themselves – they have readers, overworked and are underpaid souls who have to read vast amounts and essentially give detailed book reports. Some of these are great people, some of them should never be brought anywhere near a stack of pages.

So make it easy for them, quick, snappy, entertaining.

But your goal is to get as high in the food chain as possible. Meet the people whose work you admire, in person, go where they’re speaking, or interview them for a newspaper, magazine or website. Don’t just be a query letter, or an unsolicited submission. You will get lost in the shuffle. Stand out, be distinctive, be perceived as someone who might have something on the ball.

THE BEST SCRIPTS OFTEN GO UNNOTICED. Quality does not guarantee success – but SMART perseverance frequently DOES.

Get on the radar screen any way you can. Get people to refer you. Enter and win contests. Be a bulldog.

And write and keep writing. Unless you’re writing, you’re not a writer. You’re a talker. Get good at it, learn your craft.

Make sure you’re mentored by people who have specifically succeeded in what you want to do. Sometimes you can write them letters (care of the Writers Guild, for instance), or take classes from them, or meet them via personal referral. But make sure you have SOMEONE to advise you who knows what the hell they’re talking about. This is the biggest mistake most people make – they’re flying alone in the dark. Don’t make that crucial error.

Try as hard as you can to submit at the highest level possible. Most executives have the power to say no, but not to say yes. Unless you’re being considered by at least a vice president of development, the odds are hugely against you.

Having an agent or manager is helpful, BUT make sure they’ve sold a spec screenplay previously. Amazingly, many agents NEVER have. Do your homework, use the VARIETY database to see who has a track record.

So all right, you get your script air tight, get it in front of the yes guy and – hooray! – he BUYS it. End of story? No, only the beginning.

Because you’ve just given away all the power. And they will make it any way they damn well please – or, worse yet, NOT make it. Sadly, many scripts that are bought by the studios never get made.

That’s if they purchase it outright. If they option it, then it reverts to you after a period of time. But you’ll often get paid considerably less (or no) money for the option.

But you can make a good career selling script that never get made. Many of my friends do.

But that’s not the life that would satisfy me.

Which gets us back to the initial question: What kind of career do you want? If your goal is to make money and you don’t mind your work being butchered or never made, then scenario one may be right for you.

(And this isn’t to say that some scripts don’t get made into wonderful films. But if you want to increase your chances, ONLY submit to people whose work you truly love and who have a track record of respecting the original writer’s work. Do your homework, via the Hollywood Creative Directory and other sources.)

And this also speaks to another vital questions, one which you MUST ask yourself:

“What do I stand for?”

This gets to the core question of who you are, what you believe, what you want to communicate through your work and your art and your life itself. You MUST answer this question, really take time with it, or you will end up writing crap and working with monsters who believe in nothing and your life will be dust and ashes.

Not to bum you out or anything…

So, scenario two, you make a film…

Not as hard as it sounds nowadays, depending on the genre. You can get a G4 with Final Cut Pro and a Hi-Def camera for under ten grand, and you’re good to go.

Hey, it’s less than a new car.

And you’ll be creating something that’s truly YOURS, not a pitch, not even just a script (which is really just a blueprint, not a finished work of art; that’s the movie itself).

So here we go: The first few steps are the same, write a script, get it read by a pro for notes, polish it till it’s right.

But THEN we diverge from scenario one, because now you’ve decided to not just be a WRITER but also a PRODUCER or DIRECTOR (or both).

Take Dov S.S. Simmons’ two-day film school (like Spike Lee and Tarantino did), get it on tape or DVD, or buy his book FROM REEL TO DEAL. It gives you all the basics, with no bullshit. The real thing.

Then start gathering your troops. Make sure your cast and crew are solid, reliable, talented. If they’re actors, make sure they can act.

And if there’s any way possible, have at least one NAME actor in it. (The best way to get in conversation with these folks is to go to science fiction conventions where the stars sign photos, or the Hollywood Celebrities Shows, held twice a year in Burbank.) It won’t be Tom Cruise, but it might be a TV star from a current show or a movie star from past decades. And that can help you land direct-to-DVD distribution or better; at any rate, it will get people to pay more attention.

How to get stars attached, you ask? First of all, if you don’t have the money in hand, NEVER try to go through the agent. They just want to know about the money. (By the way, when you meet an actor and he says, “Call my agent,” he’s generally blowing you off.)

Most of all, though, you need EVIDENCE that you can pull this off. That’s where the short film comes in.

RUN, don’t walk, and buy or rent NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Watch the short film they made that’s an extra on the DVD. That short got them the money to make the movie. Watch the SLING BLADE short, too. Same deal.

The short should be the same tone and logistics as the full-length film. It should also be the same genre. It does not need to be the exact same story. But it should have a beginning, middle and end all its own. And you MUST have the finished screenplay in hand to present with the short. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

Additionally, try to have your movie be relatively inexpensive to make. If it’s a hundred-million dollar sci-fi extravaganza, you’re gonna be trying to get checks from orthodontists for the rest of your life.

Beyond the short film, other visuals can be effective selling tools: artwork, storyboards, etc.

But make it as easy on yourself as possible to actually get to production. Because many people run in huge circles just trying to get the Hollywood bigwigs to sign on. Remember, once a film is made it speak to who you are and what you do; it’s clear.

And then your career has really begun in earnest.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course. Feel free to call me at (323) 363-1259 with further questions. But take heart, don’t stop, don’t be dissuaded. The reward is well worht the blood, sweat, tears and heartburn.

You can live forever, as my friend Ray Bradbury says.



Hi, guys --

At last year's Screenwriters Expo, Elaine and I (in our guise as Supermentors) spoke to a large crowd and promised to email them the goods on how to sell a TV show. Well, finally, here it is. In another blog, I'll post the second article I just wrote, on how to sell and make a movie. Feel free to let people know about this blog; the more people know the facts, the better. (And yes, that is me with Michael Chiklis, star of THE SHIELD.)



by Marc Scott Zicree

Here’s the good news – it used to be that if you wrote a spec pilot, you had almost NO chance of selling it.

This has changed in recent years. VERONICA MARS, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE and a number of other hit shows were actually written as spec pilots. Spec pilots are getting read by agencies, networks and studios. There are even contests and film festivals for them!

PLUS, a spec pilot is a GREAT writing sample if you want to be considered for a staff writing job on someone else’s series. More than that, you can also sell it – often without writing any other material – as a series of novels or graphic novels (I’ve done both).

Here’s the tricky part -- if you have no track record or haven’t sold your work before, what’s going to make the networks and studios pay attention to you (or your GREAT idea)?

You have to create a TEAM made up of those who they DO pay attention to. These must be people who have been affiliated with a HIT show within the last TWO years (and certainly no more than five). Or they can have had hit movies (again, within the last two years). This includes producers, directors, stars and writers.

Start by acquiring the HOLLYWOOD CREATIVE DIRECTORY – PRODUCERS EDITION. It lists all the production companies in L.A. and New York. It also lists the current TV shows, networks and studios, with the key personnel and their titles.

READ THROUGH THE ENTIRE BOOK with a highlighter. Make note of which companies might be a good match for your project. Then call then and ask for the VP of Development or Development Excutive by name. That will get you connected through to their assistant (make a note of thar assistant’s name and use it whenever you call them again; address them by name).

On this call, you MUST say something that legitimizes you – if you’ve ever written and sold ANYTHING in any medium, if you’ve won awards, if you have expertise on the subject (for instance, if you’re a cop and you’ve written a cop script). You have about TEN SECONDS to say something that will make them pay attention to you.

If they ask if you have an agent and you don’t, it’s fine to say you have a lawyer. This can be any lawyer that you know or are related to. Or you can have a friend start a management company and be your manager.

IMPORTANT: NEVER LIE about having representation (or about anything, for that matter; it’s too easy for people to check).

Register your work with the Writers Guild; you can do it online. If the production company asks you to sign a waiver, do so, and don’t worry about it.

Target people you want to work with. If there’s any way to meet them face to face – for instance, if they teach a class or give a talk somewhere – do so. Don’t pitch to them, but again say something brief where they’ll remember you if you follow up. IT’S WORTH FLYING ANYWHERE TO MEET SOMEONE YOU WANT TO WORK WITH, OR WHO YOU CAN LEARN FROM.

When your work is being read, say, “When is a good time for me to check back?” Don’t have the timeframe be open-ended or let THEM set it. Call back, follow up, always be polite. Everyone in this town is overworked. Good manners and cheerfulness really help (as does professionalism; it’s a business).

Here’s the network schedule as relates to TV series: The studios and production companies open for pitches around late May-early June. Late June-early July to September is when the major networks (we’re talking CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and the new CW, plus some others) take pitches. The earlier you get in, the better – they have more open slots to fill. New pilot scripts are turned in around Thanksgiving. They’re given notes and the rewrites are turned in before Christmas. In January, the networks decide which scripts to greenlight to production of pilot. The pilots are finished in April. Early May (now) the networks announce their Fall schedules. And then it all begins again…

By the way, when you pitch a series have it be a show YOU really want to see, be passionate and creative, never blasé or cliched (despite what you see on the air). If you’re a beginner, you have to have a finished sample script of something you’ve written so they know you can write (not necessarily this pilot). When you pitch, you should know a LOT about your show – how the pilot goes, where the series heads for the first few seasons, what a typical episode is. Visuals help – cool art work, maybe two or three minutes of DVD presentation, etc.

If the execs in the meeting start asking questions, that’s a good sign. If they wear a poker face, that doesn’t mean they’re not interested; they’re thinking or need to hear from their boss. If they say, “Who’s your agent?” that can sometimes mean they’re going to buy it. If, at the end of the meeting, they say, “Thanks for coming in,” that generally mean it’s a pass. There’s lots of code phrases.

Everything clear? Probably not, but it’s a good start. Go get ‘em! (And feel free to call me with any questions.)

You’ll also want to work up a SERIES BIBLE covering the basics of the show. You probably WON’T leave that behind or even tell them you have it, but it allows you to know TONS about your show, so you can answer any question they throw at you.

What follows is a series bible I wrote with my friend MICHAEL REAVES, an Emmy winner whose credits include STAR TREK – THE NEXT GENERATION, SLIDERS, THE ANIMATED BATMAN and many others. Michael is the only writer I know who has personally worked directly with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry.

This is merely one kind of sample bible -- there are many others, and the specifics vary enormously with the tone and intent of the show. But this will give you some of the basics...


A Science Fiction Series Proposal
Marc Scott Zicree & Michael Reaves

DANTE'S STATION is a story of adventure, with the relationship of a struggling father and his young daughter at its heart, set in the far future.

Our stories are set near the center of the galaxy, where the sky is a blinding tapestry of close-set stars and nebulae. They take place in a rough-and-tumble mining operation that's drilling deep into the crust and mantle of an isolated planet for riches found only there – and the boom town that houses the workers, the hangers-on and those who prey on the weak where fortunes are to be had.

Here we peel back layer upon layer of the characters we come to know – some human, some alien. Just as they dig and drill their way deeper and deeper toward the planet's fiery core, we dig for the fires that drive them, both good and bad, that can either raise them up or scatter their ashes to the winds.

This is the story of SULLIVAN REESE, a cop who comes from Earth under a cloud of scandal to join the small force policing DANTE'S STATION, the mining operation on the hellish planet TOPHET.

Accompanying him is his 14-year-old daughter TINA. So Reese has two 24-hour jobs on his hands – full-time cop and father.

Tophet’s a tough place to try to lay down the law. Most cops don't last a year; they're either run off or killed. But Reese has nowhere else to go – it's work here or serve a prison sentence in Earth orbit.

Three species work the mine and live in the town, all from planets in other systems:


Big, brutal (but oddly spiritual) beings called TARGS ...

And elegant, smooth-talking creatures called ENYARDS.

Also there are the Y'MAA (pronounced "Ee-mah," or the derogatory "Eemies"), who seem to have always been on this planet but who live a low, dim life and are only good for fetch and carry – little smarter than dogs.

The humans, Targs and Enyards have formed a partnership to mine the planet, as each has skills the others need to extract the rare AMBERJACK found only here – and which is of immense (and different) use to each race.

Although all three species take part in every aspect of Tophet's operation, the humans run the POLICE FORCE (the youngest of the three species, they're viewed – rightly or wrongly – as the most savage, with the greatest capacity for violence), the Targs oversee MINING OPERATIONS and the Enyards head up ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES.

But it's a shaky alliance, none of the species trusting the others. There's constant back-biting, jockeying for power, each looking for ways to do without the other two.

And if it all crashes down into riot and chaos, the Enyards have the territorial right to declare martial law, enslaving the workers and calling the shots. So they're always working behind the scenes to sow discord and fan the flames.

In terms of tone, DANTE'S STATION is character rather than gimmick-driven, more BLADE RUNNER than space opera – played out against a larger mythic backdrop that will satisfy the true SF fan.

DANTE'S STATION is mean streets on another planet. Tough, passionate men and women. Hard choices … and a cop caught in the middle.

A cop with a daughter he’s desperate to shelter – and who finds, like fathers have since time began, that he’s up against very long odds.



In his late thirties, Reese begins our adventure as the quintessential tough-as-nails New York street cop – pragmatic, thoroughly decent and no respecter of sacred cows.

Reese was raised in New York City-State, a tropical zone on an Earth ravaged by climatic changes and torn by power struggles within the various government and corporate factions. From a long line of cops, he joined the Force straight out of school.

He was married to ALISA, a geneticist and political activist passionately driven to find the truth, both in the larger universe and the day-to-day world in which they lived. The marriage was a love/hate relationship, the fiery Alisa hell to live with. Out of this union came Reese's daughter TINA, who is the world to Reese.

While serving on Earth, Reese uncovered an atrocity and subsequent cover-up in the Force. He was striving to finesse the situation, trying to get his brother officers to rectify things and turn themselves in. But Alisa was impatient. She joined an underground freedom fighter group that neutralized the officers and brought the whole house of cards down – with disastrous results.

Reese didn't approve of her actions (he’ll only learn much later that she averted his assassination), but still helped Alisa escape. Government forces reportedly killed her, though no remains were ever returned. Reese's marriage was voided and he was held accountable for the mayhem as an accessory after the fact. Prison seemed the only outcome, with his daughter reassigned to a new family.

However, a strange providence stepped in: there was a mining accident on Tophet and a civic riot (under mysterious circumstances) in which all but two of the 50-man police force was wiped out. Chaos reigned and, if order wasn't immediately restored, the Enyard Imperium was about to step in and take over the whole shebang. For Earth to keep its claim to the Amberjack, they needed trained cops on Tophet fast (a mission that looked suicidal the way things stood).

Desperate to keep his daughter, Reese volunteers. The first weeks on Tophet are violent times. But soon order of a sort is restored, thanks largely to him. While claiming to know nothing of diplomacy, he yet negotiates harrowing situations – and unhesitatingly bulls through the few he can’t.

The opposite of military types, Reese quickly wins popular support by yes-sirring no one, treating all as equals and never allowing rules to outweigh mercy.

Reese settles into a modest flat in Dante's Station's middle-class Level 7 with his daughter. It's rough urban life, harder than trying to raise a child up right on the meanest streets of modern New York. But Reese is determined to be there for her, to keep her safe and in his life.

Now assigned to the Tophet P.D., Reese is the immediate subordinate of CHIEF CONSUELA O'SHAUNNESY. He's essentially a homicide detective and whatever else comes to be needed when the unprocessed waste hits the fan ... which is almost every day.


Of mixed Latina/African American/Irish ancestry, Connie is head of the Tophet Police Force. Tough, smart, sexy – think Angela Bassett in … well, nearly anything.

Consuela's got one odd trait – she’s only romantic with alien men. Humans need not apply. But that's her personal life. On the job, she's competence personified.

She's self-educated, no one gave her a single break, she's had to claw her way up. Her people were peasants and serfs and share croppers from way back. Her immediate family were asteroid miners working for a big corporation. As a child she never had a real home; her folks moved from claim to claim. Her father died getting his daughter out of the mines, determined for her to have a better life than his.

She feels great guilt over the fact that only she and one other cop survived the recent disaster on Tophet. And she's determined to get to the bottom of it, no matter the cost.

Consuela is big on duty, on upholding your oath of office. This is going to cost her big when she has to decide between keeping order and getting to justice, between serving her bosses and doing what's right (for a time, it's likely her indecision will put her on the opposite side from Reese when things start really heating up).

In terms of her day-to-day job, she's much more like an old-style Marshal than a desk jockey. She's out in the field, she gets her hands dirty. Quite often she'll team up with Reese on the nastier assignments.

As for any weaknesses or dark secrets, Consuela has only one: years earlier, following a traumatic hostage event in which she survived (and killed her captors) but was responsible for the deaths of several loved ones, she had a mental breakdown. She was given a radical (and illegal) experimental treatment that shocked her out of her catatonia but had a side effect that's proven both a blessing and curse: she's now a XENOPATH. With great effort, she can read the minds of certain alien species (but not humans). This, we’ll learn, is the reason for her bias against her own kind – if she can see someone's thoughts, she doesn’t have to rely on trust.

There is, however, a serious downside: the effort has a wasting physical effect. Used too much, it could kill her. What's more, it can be like an addiction. The more Consuela uses it, the more she runs the risk of MINDBLUR: a schizophrenic-like disorder that eventually result in her mind "projecting" its disordered fantasies into the thoughts of others, driving them mad as well.

If the bosses knew of Consuela's potential instability, they'd remove her from her position. In time, while on a case, Reese finds out – but out of friendship keeps it secret. But from then on he keeps a close eye on her …


Reese's fourteen year old daughter. A tomboy and grease monkey. Pretty, smart, shy, wry and guarded. She's a loner and her insatiable curiosity has her often poking around the dark corners of Dante's Station where she shouldn't be, stumbling upon things she's safer knowing nothing about.

Tina's at that stage of wanting to assert her independence but also looking to her father to keep her safe and make everything okay. She misses her Mom and mourns her but also had a troubled past with her Mother – inside Alisa there always seemed a dark place Tina couldn't reach.

Reese had to pull strings to get Tina to Tophet – most cops are solo acts. Now that she's here with him, he generally keeps mum about her. Most who know him are unaware he has a daughter. But some make it their business to learn about her, knowing that any threat to her might be a way to leverage Reese.

Over time, Tina will become obsessed with finding out about the bands of homeless, orphaned children who hide from the deporting authorities and live in the walls, closed-off corridors and shut down areas of Dante's Station. One boy in particular, nicknamed GHOST, will become her special friend and lead her into their strange society, where they put the Eemies on a pedestal, imitate their ways and form a strange link with them.

Beyond this, Tina has a secret neither she nor Reese initially know about. Tina's scientist mother used her as a guinea pig in genetic research, subtly altering her DNA in an attempt to accelerate her evolution. Up until now, this "difference" has not become manifest, and Tina still seems a normal kid. But once on Tophet, anomalies start to crop up; Tina finds herself developing skills and traits that are more than human. This both terrifies and exhilarates her – and puts her and Reese in danger.

To help Tina cope with these changes and to hold onto her humanity, Reese will have to reach out to Consuela and use his boss's psi abilities to guide Tina back to him (forming a special bond between the three of them).


The Targ in charge of Mining and Production. Blunt, plain-spoken, honorable in a rough frontier sort of way. Daneek is sort of the futuristic equivalent of a Teamsters guy. He only wants what's best for his men and the operation.

Targs are a curious and surprising mix of traits. They're incredibly powerful and physical, but also exude a deep spirituality (think of a cross between a Sumo wrestler and the Buddha – or just a beefy construction worker from Queens who's also deeply Catholic).

Targs come from a heavy-gravity world and are far stronger than humans. But they must take a variety of treatments and medications to halt physical deterioration on the lighter-gravity Tophet. Due to their physical makeup, they alone can withstand the radiation of the unprocessed Amberjack, allowing them to mine the material (robot miners short-circuit and go haywire). Targs can also survive for a brief duration on the surface of the planet, but it takes a lot out of them; Tophet’s close proximity to the galactic core leaves its surface constantly wracked by cosmic storms.

Targs have no Empire, but rather head up a loose collection of species, all following the same religion, with the Targs as the originators and the Prophets.

The purpose to which they put Amberjack is a deep secret – but in time Reese discovers that they use it as a sacrament in their religion, putting themselves temporarily into a higher state of consciousness in which they enter "Paradise," another dimension where they commune with their gods.

Friendships between Targs and other species are very rare; they don't bond easily with "unbelievers." But over time (thanks to several harrowing adventures), Daneek becomes a friend to Reese. They'll tell each other things they won't even tell their own families.

Like his fellow Targs, Daneek's life is ruled by a strict code of action, dictated by his religion. The Targ Hive-Queen is the equivalent of their Pope. Slowly but surely, however, this leader is going stone crazy – due, Reese eventually learns, to her overuse of Amberjack. But there's no way to remove her from office; her word is law. And what's worse, more and more Targs are getting caught up in her Imperialistic fervor and rabid anti-alien pronouncements.

Daneek will come to increasingly doubt the direction this mad leader is taking her people and will try to enlist Reese in an attempt to assassinate the Queen and save the Targs – an action Reese will refuse to participate in and which will put him lethally at odds with Daneek.


The Enyard part of the triumvirate. Sylia is head of Administration; essentially mayor of Dante's Station, making sure all goes smoothly (or at least quietly).

Enyards are very sophisticated – witty but with a sharp edge, egotistical, brilliant, highly-educated and very manipulative, always playing the angles. You can never be certain what they really want but you can always be sure they have a hidden agenda.

Put simply, Enyards are effete Brits at the height of the Victorian Empire. Powerful, Machiavellian and xenophobic. Gentle with their own but ruthless with others. They don't view other species as people. Over time, Anyilar will come to forge an alliance with Reese and get past this view – and have to turn traitor to the Enyard Empire, a vast collection of colonial worlds and conquered species, some of which will try to rebel and be viciously put down.

Most striking, Enyards consist of three sexes – males, females and "genmales": androgynous beings who are vital to procreation. Their role is to take the germ cells from both male and female Enyards and genetically optimize them, thus directing the evolution of the species. Sylia is one of these, and Reese has to get used to dealing with a being who is neither male nor female. All of the Enyards whose jobs are colonial (off-Homeworld) are this third sex. In time, Reese will come to find that the male and female Enyards are very different, both physically and mentally, from the ones he has seen.

As to the role of the Enyards in the triumvirate – why they're vital to the Amberjack equation – it can be summed up in one word: money, money, money. More accurately, they had the vast amount of credits needed to bankroll the operation, the merchant infrastructure to market it ... and Tophet is territorially in their back yard.

And what purpose is Amberjack to the Enyards – what makes it more precious than gold? Again, this is generally kept a secret ... but we eventually learn that, despite the improved evolutionary odds granted by their trisexuality, Enyards are a dying race, their birth rate falling at a rate that will guarantee extinction within a century. Amberjack boosts fertility in Enyards, allowing them to climb back toward population stability.

But unknown to them – and this is a secret Reese will ultimately uncover – this second chance comes at a terrible price ... and the offspring Amberjack is helping create will be very different from their parents.


An Y'maa male who starts out as little more than part of the landscape, ignored and seemingly uninteresting. But over time we see that he has a deep wisdom ... and a plan for Reese.

The Y'maa are the Untouchables of this world. They don't assert themselves, don't mix, seem to have no initiative. They're native to this world but since they have no written history (that we know of), it's anyone's guess as to how long they've been around or what they've been doing all this time.

Once, eons ago, there was a race on this world that built magnificent cities, that had a technology and learning far beyond humans, Targs or Enyards. Every now and then a mining crew will punch through a wall and discover some ancient machine or part of a ruined city (but never any bodies).

This race seemingly died off after causing an ecological catastrophe that both created Amberjack and rendered the surface of the planet unlivable. It's been theorized that the Y'maa may have been the slaves of this lost race; there are some clues in the archaeological record that point to this.

But the truth we eventually come to learn is that the Y'maa themselves were the dominant race. Like the Mayans on our own world, they became extremely powerful and, at the height of their power, fell into decline.

And they have another secret: no one ever sees their young. It's assumed they're raised in some deep cavern and only allowed to mingle with other species once they're grown. But in reality, there are no Y'maa young. Phanx and the other Y'maa are very, very old. And when one is killed, he or she cannot be replaced.

When it's discovered just who and what the Y'maa really are, the Mining Consortium will try to cover it up – they don't want these "wogs" to have a claim to the world or the Amberjack. Murder and terror will ensue, with Reese learning the facts, taking a stand and exposing the truth.

The Y'maa never take action, never react, are as impassive as cigar-store Indians. And yet, at one point Phanx saves Reese's life. Reese is amazed and grateful but doesn't understand why. Phanx doesn't tell him – but later we learn that Reese is vital to the Y'maa. Phanx becomes Reese's adviser, helper, and sometime guardian angel.

And through Phanx, Reese will learn just why the ancient Y'maa developed Amberjack, what they used it for ... and where they all are. It's a discovery that will turn everything on Tophet on its head – and cost Reese dearly.


Some weird crimes start happening – people going crazy, berserkers, claiming they're seeing weird monsters, ghosts. At first it's assumed it's the pressure cooker situation in Dante's Station and the mining operation – but it's not, it's psychically-sensitive people getting tuned in to the vibes of the ancient race that once ruled Tophet. Only certain people are susceptible. The Targs find this very disturbing as these "hallucinations" relate to their religious visions and prophecy.

At the same time, the Y'maa make oblique references to what's really going on. Everyone dismisses this initially as supernatural claptrap, but it's true.

Consuela gets a psychic shock seeing into the mind of a Targ as he experiences an Amberjack-induced religious vision. It shakes her to the core and she begins surreptitiously seeking answers as to what it was she saw, enlisting Reese's aid in uncovering the truth and in time learning of the sacramental use of Amberjack for the Targs.

Meanwhile, Tina becomes intrigued with the street kids. She starts following one, learning his haunts. In time, she finds that these kids are devotees of the Y'maa, trying to unlock their secrets and piecing together the tantalizing clues as to the civilization that thrived here centuries ago.

Some miners punch through a wall and discover ancient evidence that the Y'maa were (and still are) the rightful owners of this world. The Company kills them and tries to cover it up. Reese investigates the case and nearly gets killed, too. He disobeys orders to let sleeping dogs lie.

Reese discovers that the Y'maa on this planet are only shadows of their true selves – in reality, they are the ancient rulers, the greater part of their essence having been transported elsewhere.

And here's what we ultimately find out: ages ago, the Y'maa – at the height of their glory – received a mental invitation from within the galactic core. It seemed benevolent, offering wonders. This "Other Consciousness" existed in another galaxy and needed a portal opened via the massive black hole at the center of our galaxy by which it could come through.

To open the portal, the Y'maa realized it would take the power of all their minds, transported to this nexus and focused. To do this, they needed to alter their genetic code and create ships that could withstand the titanic gravitational forces around the black hole. A new element was needed to bring this about: Amberjack.

The Y'maa poured all their resources into creating Amberjack ... and in doing so, devastated their own world and had to move underground.

They sent their minds and their machines to the black hole, focused all their powers ... and the portal began to open. But as it opened, they experienced the emerging sentience for what it really was: a malevolent, voracious, destructive Ravener. It essentially ate up all organic life in whatever galaxy it lived, then hopscotched from galaxy to galaxy via black hole gateways. But it couldn't do this on its own, it needed other species to effect the transitions ... and the Y'maa were its pawns.

Discovering this, the Y'maa tried to close the portal before this monster could come through. They succeeded, but it "got its foot in the door," so to speak. It couldn't come through, but the concentrated Y'maa "group mind" consciousness couldn't leave, either – they had to stay there to keep it out. And so what was left on Tophet were the physical bodies of the Y'maa, their intellects stunted, dimly able to perceive the greater part of their beings trapped at the portal in the galactic core.

It was deadlock for thousands of years. But while the Y'maa couldn’t leave, they could use their psychic powers to subtly manipulate other sentient species in our galaxy. And so they have drawn the humans, Targs and Enyards to Tophet, their agenda being to get these three species to psychically and genetically alter themselves and build the ships that will take them to the galactic center to free the trapped Y'maa. Knowing these other species wouldn't sacrifice their futures to do what was needed, they resorted to subterfuge and manipulation.

In order to accomplish this, they've given the Targs a religion with themselves as the Targ Gods, altered the Enyards into creatures more like themselves and brought Reese, Consuela and Tina here. Tina is the key, the linchpin of all this, her mother having been guided to alter her into a "human-plus" capable of the needed skills.

Naturally, when Reese and the others find this out, they're very pissed off and don't want to aid the Y'maa. But Reese, convinced of the basic goodness of the Y'maa (perhaps under the guidance of Tina and Phanx), sways the others to throw in their lot and mount this rescue mission. There's also a ticking clock: the Y'maa are dying, and their hold is lessening. Soon they won't be able to keep the Ravener out and it will surge through. So our guys have to close the portal permanently.

Reese and the others mount their voyage into the galactic center, in a vehicle specially designed to withstand the incredible forces at the event horizon. They find the probe and manage to release the Y'maa minds, which surge in a great energy beam back to Tophet, reintegrating all the Y'maa there back to what they once were.

But then things go terribly awry. Our heroes try to close the portal but the Ravener manages to turn the tables and surge through. After eons in limbo, it's now out. And hungry.

It turns out to be essentially a sentient virus. It absorbs other organic materials (including people) and uses their cellular structure to replicate itself. So it manifests itself into a legion of voracious creatures, surging over people, enveloping them, becoming them, burning them out and moving on to other victims. And its numbers are growing.

It manages to commandeer a ship and speed toward Tophet and its surrounding system.

Our heroes now have a new agenda. It's war, and they must stop this enemy army, this hive-mind Ravener, from swallowing up our galaxy like it has so many others. It must be utterly destroyed, with not a cell remaining.

The battlefield is Tophet ... with Reese at the forefront.


Reese arrives on Tophet. The spaceship doors open onto chaos and riot – 48 cops have been killed, two (including Consuela) held hostage. Reese is there with a colonial marines team from Earth. There’s a clock on this – if Earth forces fail to restore order within a certain time, the Enyards can declare martial law and move in with their troops.

It’s possible that the rioting was kicked off when someone violated some Targ religious tenet and the Targs went berserk (though all the various species are caught up in it).

The Enyard soldiers arrive to put the lid on and Reese has to take them on, deal with them, stop them from taking over. He's nearly shot, when Phanx surprisingly takes action and saves Reese’s life.

When things seem to be settling down (but actually aren’t), Reese brings Tina down to join him. He introduces her to Phanx, who seems in some strange way to already know about her.

We find out that the Earth government/corporation was behind the original event, working behind the scenes to gain advantage. It spiraled out of control and brought about this situation.

Tina begins her exploration of the station, its outcasts and mean streets and forgotten tunnels. She learns the first tantalizing clues about the Y’maa – and lands in terrible danger, from which Reese must deliver her.

We build to a climactic point where the Amberjack processing plant threatens a meltdown that would destroy everything and kill lots of folks. Reese, along with his newfound friends, stops this from happening, saves the day, and manages to restore equilibrium. He also saves Connie. But the pressure cooker that is Dante's Station will soon start to bubble again …

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Hi, guys --

As part of my prep on directing STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES, I'm having lunches with my friends who are directors and getting their feedback and sage advice.

One of the most talented -- and certainly the most striking of these -- is ROXANN DAWSON, who starred as B'Ellana Torres on STAR TREK VOYAGER and is now is HUGELY successful TV director, with credits on LOST, CROSSING JORDAN, COLD CASE and others.

We had a marvelous time today, and it was great getting advice from someone who's been both an actor AND director!

Frank Darabont (SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) also emailed me yesterday, and he'll be mentoring me too.

What a life -- and what amazing people to have in it. I feel so grateful to be able to ask questions... and get all the right answers!

More to come soon...


Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Hi, guys --

Well, we're back in L.A. and life is exciting, as always. RAY BRADBURY invited me to his new play of four one-acts based on his short stories the other night, and it was a joy to sit there in the audience with Ray in attendance. Ray introduced me to his guest of the evening, who turned out to be the famous Golden Age actress MARSHA HUNT. Marsha turned out to be enormously charming, and was quite surprised I recognized her name -- while I in turn was thrilled to meet her! When she learned I was writing and directing a new TREK episode, she told me of the NEXT GENERATION episode she starred in, "Too Short a Season."

Several days later, I visited Ray at his home and we traded presents. I gave him the TREK script and -- because this critter was mentioned in his play -- authentic hair from a wooly mammoth (something he DIDN'T have), and he gave me a signed copy of S IS FOR SPACE and a new CD of FAHRENHEIT 451. (I think I made out the better on that exchange.)

I discussed the challenges of directing with Ray and he told me, "You remind me of my old friend Sam Peckinpah -- he made everyone he worked with fall in love with him!" High praise. He then told me about visiting Fritz Lang on the set of RANCHO NOTORIOUS and being appalled at how Lang and the Director of Photography were screaming at each other. NOT the way to make a movie, in either Ray's opinion or mine.

It's such great fun to share these conversations about our creative work, such a singular honor.

We've begun the audion process on the TREK episode, incidentally... more on that next time.