Friday, June 25, 2010

THE LIBRARY CARD- December 1968 (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father)

This outing has also been posted on my website at www.senensky.com

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That was an example of the usual teaser opening. Unlike the teaser for GUESS WHO’S COMING TO LUNCH, this was not a part of the script I filmed. It was a dialogue written later and added to one of the shots Jimmy had filmed on location. But it did have a relevance to the script that followed; it established the theme of “responsibility”.

Two weeks after I completed photography on my first EDDIE’S FATHER, I started filming my second one, THE LIBRARY CARD. This script placed a noticeably stronger emphasis on little Eddie; it was his story. And the theme of looking for a wife for his father definitely was relegated not merely to the back seat -- it was placed in the rumble seat. (For those of you too young to know what a rumble seat was, I don’t have time to explain.)

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I am having a slight problem. There were almost no problems in the production of this episode. In fact there was only one, and it was minimal. This was the last show to be completed before the Christmas break; in fact the last day of filming was scheduled for December 24th, Christmas Eve. The slight problem -- both Brandon and I were ill with seasonal flu. I remember thinking how fortunate that we were filming in the Corbett apartment set; there were several beds, and I took to one of them many times while the crew was lighting for the next setup. If I sounded ill when I called “action” -- no problem. That bit was always cut from the film. The real trouper was Brandon. If I hadn’t mentioned this, I doubt if, when watching his performance, you would have realized he too was ill.

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One spring when talking to writer-producer Tony Spinner, I asked him what he was up to. He told me of a project he had in development for a potential series for the upcoming season. When I commented that it seemed like a rerun of something already on the air, Tony smiled and said, “But that’s the secret -- do the same thing, just a little differently.” One of the staples of network television was the single father format. THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER was its latest arrival. Preceding it had been BACHELOR FATHER John Forsythe, Fred MacMurray and his three sons and several others. I think the charm of this series was the ways JImmy Komack was finding to do it differently.

I really appreciated having scenes like the following one with little dialogue, no major activity, just relationship emotion and Nilsson’s song in the background.

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Even a sitcom like this one that was aiming for more had to have some plot complications. And let me interject that I still marvel at the professionalism of the young people I worked with all those years ago.

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I didn’t have to leave the studio for location filming very often on this series. This episode was my first time.

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The police department location chosen was one of the very few booboos evident in this series. Tom Corbett’s apartment would NOT have been in Culver City. I think it would have been one of the high rises in Century City. But the Culver City police department was the closest police department to the MGM studio -- which was located in Culver City. Budget dictated our choice.

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Shades of Judge Hardy and his son, Andy. This was my first encounter in this series with such a scene -- but not my last.

But we can’t leave Eddie, still missing his lost book.

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I’m not completely sure, but I think this was the final episode of the original order from the network. That was the added reason for needing to complete photography on THE LIBRARY CARD on December 24. Jimmy now had the coming months to complete postproduction on this first batch. That really was an unusual situation in developing a new series for television -- to have that kind of time to let the show evolve. When the schedule for the next season was announced, THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER had made the cut at ABC. Production would resume in July for additional episodes, and I would be on board.

Friday, June 18, 2010

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO LUNCH - December 1968 (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father)

This outing has also been posted on my website at www.senensky.com

Last October in my posting for THE MASK MAKERS on DR. KILDARE, I ended by saying:

"This was my second DR. KILDARE assignment. I was booked to return in the fall for another assignment. And unbeknownst to me there was a visitor on the set who seven and a half years later would have a very strong effect on my career."

As I wrote in my last posting, I was without employment after the debacle of THE THOLIAN WEB. It seemed as though I had moved to the top spot of a Hollywood black list. Then in November I received (finally) a call from one of my agents. I was to go out to MGM (my old home studio) and meet James Komack. JImmy at that meeting informed me that he had visited his friend, Carolyn Jones, several years before when she was guest starring in an episode of DR. KILDARE. He had been a working actor in Hollywood for about eight years. He had gone back to New York to appear in the smash Broadway musical, DAMN YANKEES, and later appeared in the screen version of that production. He had recently moved behind the cameras to pursue a career directing and producing. He told me he had been impressed with the way I directed Carolyn; that any discussions I had with her were done quietly and confidentially, out of earshot of everyone else on the set. As an actor he appreciated that. He was now producing a new series for MGM, THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER, a transferrence of the popular MGM feature starring Glenn Ford, Shirley Jones and Ronny Howard, into a potential weekly television sitcom. But he had other aspirations for the series; he did not want to use sitcom directors. He invited me to come aboard. I readily accepted his offer.

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I don’t know what the actual commitment was between MGM and ABC. Although the series would not go on the air until the following September, it was already in production filming six or seven shows. My guess was that the network had the option after viewing these first productions of ordering more episodes or canceling. After filming was completed on these initial episodes, Jimmy planned to go out with a skeleton crew (no sound) and film a large series of sequences involving Eddie and his father, with Bill Bixby cast as Tom Corbett and seven-year old Brandon Cruz, an absolute newcomer to the profession, in the role of young Eddie. Later short vignette-type scenes would be written, recorded and laid in over the wide angle shots he had filmed. These were to be the opening and closing for each episode.

Except that’s not how it was done on this episode. I filmed a scene with the dialogue you just heard where Eddie speaks to his father, who is dressing to go out for the evening. But the edited film was long, so the dialogue as recorded for that scene was used over a shot Jimmy filmed later at the beach. Here is the scene from that script, GUESS WHO’S COMING TO LUNCH, written by Jimmy, that ended up on the cutting room floor (except for the dialogue).




I recently, in preparation for revisiting Eddie and his father for this posting, viewed the feature, directed by Vincente Minnelli. I was amazed at the difference in tone between the feature and the television series that evolved under Jimmy Komack's guidance. The film with Glenn Ford and Ronny Howard seemed to stress the conflicts in their relationship; Tom Corbett, a recent widower still in the throes of grief, showed a lot of impatient anger toward his young son, who did not like the current lady in his dad's life and could not hide his disapproval. Eddie is finally vindicated when the lady he wanted as his mother is the one Tom eventually marries. Komack's interpretation of the relationship for the small screen was a different kind of love story. Although early episodes in Komack’s version had Eddie “shopping” for Tom’s future wife, the main courtship of the series was between son and father.

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In the nine episodes I eventually directed for COURTSHIP, this was the only one that drew from material in the original film. In that film, Eddie (Ronny Howard) had a serious conversation with his father about girls with skinny eyes and big chests; in the television film, skinny became squinty.

The other standing set for the series was Tom’s office where his magazine was produced. And of course Tom had a secretary. In January, 1968, LAUGH IN debuted on NBC. It was an immediate success, and one of its shining stars was Goldie Hawn, who giggled a lot. Since imitation is the greatest compliment that can be paid, thank you LAUGH IN for Tina, the secretary as played by Kristina Holland.

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This was not a series being developed along the usual guidelines employed in Hollywood. How was this possible? I think the recent move of Herb Solow from head of production at Desilu Studios (where under his command STAR TREK and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE were developed) to MGM, where he was now the head of production, was a major factor. Herb had an open mind when dealing with creative people; he was willing to tread where many others feared to go. And he was a very nice, kind man. He made it a point to come and welcome me to the studio, at which time he said, “When Jimmy requested hiring you to direct for the series, I did not object.” I knew he was very aware of what had transpired with me on STAR TREK after he left Desilu.

And Jimmy’s choices for stories were not following the usual sitcom patterns.

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Today the opening of that door would not produce much of a ripple. But for television forty-two years ago -- it was BOLD! This was a reunion for Cicely Tyson and me five and half years after EAST SIDE WEST SIDE. And this time there was to be no pushing her into the background because of the color of her skin. Black was beautiful!

I’m sure you have noticed by this time two things that alternately pleased and annoyed me. Let’s get the annoyance out of the way first. The laugh track. It was bad enough to have laughter on the track when the show was being performed in front of a live audience and being photographed by four cameras ( I LOVE LUCY e.g.) where performances were aimed at producing those laughs. But this show was being filmed on a studio set without any audience. The laugh track was machine-made later and frankly was an intrusion. (Who are those strange unseen people in the living room who are laughing?) Many times I felt the insertion of the laughter not only didn’t help provoke laughter from the tuned in audience; it got in the way and lessened the comedic effect we were going for.

Now for the good! Not only did Nilsson and George Tipton compose a charming music background score, but Nilsson wrote and sang bits that commented on the action in the scene -- sort of a musical one-man Greek chorus. Another of the innovative Komack touches.

I think the casting of Miyoshi Umecki as housekeeper Mrs. Livingstone was inspired. Miyoshi was the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award, which she did for her performance a decade earlier in the Marlon Brandon starrer, SAYONARA. In her low key style, she was an amazing performer. 

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I think this was Brandon Cruz’s very first film job. He was seven years old, but incredibly professional for one so inexperienced. And lucky. The child actor is a breed unto itself. I had worked with many children (and hordes more were in my future). In the mid-fifties I directed a play in Hollywood and cast a twelve-year old to be in it. I’ll call him Jackie (not his real name). Jackie at twelve was already a Hollywood veteran. At a younger age he had been a running character on a very successful situation comedy that was now off the air. But Jackie had a very ambitious stage mother. Money was being poured into recording sessions to launch him as a teenage singing star. It wasn’t until after the stage production had concluded that one of the members of the cast told me that Jackie, each evening as he sat in front of the mirror applying makeup for that night’s performance, had tears streaming down his face. The recording career never developed. When Jackie reached the age to make his own decisions, show business became a part of his past. That’s why I say Brandon was lucky; he had Bill Bixby. Bill from the first day was his anchor. But let’s let Brandon tell it in his own words:

"Well, when you're around the guy known as 'the nicest guy'
in show business. You learn a lot and you're in awe, an awful
lot of the time. Bill was such a professional, such a giving
actor, and caring person that it didn't even seem like work.
It seemed like I was hanging out with my best friend. It was
corny, but he was so wonderful to work with, you could not
pay anybody to say a bad word about Bill. He was giving to a
fault, basically."

Two years after Bill Bixby died in 1993, Brandon named his first son Lincoln Bixby Cruz.

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You may take the man out of acting, but you can’t take the actor out of the man. Producer James Komack cast actor James Komack as Norman, who works for Tom on his magazine. Later in the run, (and I worked on and off on this show for a year, doing nine episodes) Jimmy told me that when he was the director of an episode, he never left the set. But when he was acting, during the time that a scene was being lit he returned to his dressing room. When the director of photography was ready, a buzzer was rung. Jimmy said he heard the buzzer, but he waited in his dressing room until the assistant director came to notify him they were ready for him to film. Interesting!

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It was so nice to be back with people who scheduled by the reality of the situation. This episode was filmed in three days. Most of the episodes I did later went three and a half or four days. It all depended on how many scenes involved Eddie (and in several instances, friends of Eddie) all of whom had to spend three hours a day in school; and the work day for a minor ended nine hours (allowing an hour for lunch) after they arrived in the morning. The three hours of schooling did not have to be consecutive. It was worked into those times the youngsters were not involved in filming. Sometimes the kids could go to school for an hour, or two hours; and sometimes they might have to go to school in twenty minute increments. I was always impressed with the concentration those young people could bring to the set, considering those circumstances.

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Another major problem in filming for television was the final running time of the film. Because the tv networks had adopted the scheduling of radio, prime time programming was either a half hour in length or an hour. That was the overall time; from that you deducted the time for the commercials, the network station break, the opening billboards and credits and the closing credits. This had been an even bigger problem during the live television era. They literally had to be timed to the second. Script girls (and most of the script personnel were women) were absolutely expert at the craft of back-timing. There is a great legendary story from the Golden Age of live New York television. Because I can’t be absolutely certain it really happened, I will give my director another name -- Jake. Jake arrived for the first reading of the hour length show. After the reading his script girl said, “Jake, I think the script is long.”

Jake replied, “No, I don’t think so. I’m planning to play this at a very fast pace. I think we will be okay.”

Rehearsals took place. After the first runthrough, the script girl again came to Jake with her concern that the script was long. Again Jake said the cast was not yet playing at the tempo he envisioned. He was confident they were going to be okay. Came the move from the rehearsal hall into the teleivision studio for camera blocking. The next day after the first runthrough on camera, again the script girl’s concern; again Jake’s assurance.

Dress rehearsal. Script girl’s concern; Jake’s assurance.

On air. I mentioned back timing before. It was a complicated system that I never could truly understand whereby the script girl could tell the director at any point as they were on air whether they were on time, long or short. Halfway through the show Jake called out, “How are we for time?”

Script: “We’re long, Jake.”

Jake: (to his associate director) “Take over.”

Whereupon Jake left the control booth, went out to the stage where the filming was taking place, got down on his hands and knees and crawled onto the set where the the two performers were acting. He jerked at the actress’s skirt and the actor’s trousers and whispered, “Cut every other line.”

As I’ve said several times before, when there is a difference between the legend and the fact -- print the legend.

Filmed television had one intervening factor in its favor -- the editing room. When the film was assembled, if it was long cuts could be made to bring it down to proper length. That happened on this show. Here is the script (outlined in pink) of a scene that was filmed but ended up on the cutting room floor.



And here is the scene that ended up in the film. I think everything necessary that was said in the excised dialogue is still understood because of the performances of Bill and Cicely.

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One last comment. Jimmy Komack, with his concept for the short vignette scenes between Eddie and his father to begin and end each episode, had provided himself a cushion in case an edited film came in short. All he had to do was lengthen the vignettes.

Since it’s not fair to leave a plot unfinished, let’s take a look at the morning after.

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If I seem to have neglected Bill Bixby, let’s just say I was saving the best for last. He was everything Brandon said about him-- but ten times more. Never any temperament, always cheerful, extraordinarily talented, and a real mensch! This was a very good place for me to land after my experience in outer space.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

THE THOLIAN WEB - August 1968 (Star Trek)

With a nod to Margo Channing of ALL ABOUT EVE

Fasten your seat belts - it’s going to be a bumpy flight.


The day after I finished filming IS THERE IN TRUTH NO BEAUTY, I reported to the studio to start prep on THE THOLIAN WEB. I remember very little about this prep period. There were no guest stars, so there were no casting meetings. The entire show would be filmed on the Enterprise sets. The script called for scenes to be filmed on another starship, the Defiant, but since that starship was the same as the Enterprise, there was no need to build additional sets. The already standing Enterprise sets would do double duty. The biggest change facing me was the loss of Jerry Finnerman. He had departed the series, and his camera operator, Al Francis, had been promoted to director of photography. One thing I remember about the week of prep, one of my agents called and told me there was an offer from Gene Coon to direct an episode of a new series he was producing, IT TAKES A THIEF starring Robert Wagner. We had to turn it down. There was a direct conflict; it would require me to report before I had finished filming my current STAR TREK.


If I don’t remember much about the prep week, the same cannot be said about the filming week which began on Monday, August 5th. If we look at the teaser, it will be easier for me to explain the events that occurred that first day.

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Our work was scheduled to begin on the Defiant bridge set (which was the Enterprise bridge set). When I reported at 7:30 Monday morning, the set was ready, the crew was assembled, I was prepared, as was the cast. But there were no silver space suits. I was told the four actors had come to the studio the day before (Sunday) for their FIRST fittings. They were, even as we somewhat impatiently waited, having their final fittings. Nothing had been done by the production department to adjust the schedule for this predicament. My friend, Max Hodge, who was on a writing assignment for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, was at the studio and dropped by my set. The two of us went to the set next door to visit the current MISSION in production which was guest starring my friend (from ROUTE 66), Ruth Roman.


Finally one suit was completed, the one for Bill Shatner. So I found some isolated closeups of Captain Kirk, and we filmed those, There weren’t that many, and it meant filming the closeups before we had staged and rehearsed the scenes. Just before noon the four suits were finally completed and we could begin.


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The normal method of filming is to schedule by the sets. When you went into a set, all of the scenes in that set would be completed before moving to another set. Those moves took time. Every effort was made to keep such moves to a minimum. But in the case of these scenes on the Defiant, the space suits became the determing factor. Which meant that we were filming in every one of the starship’s sets -- the bridge, engineering, medical lab and sick bay. But we had to film just those scenes in these various sets that involved our space suited men. Later we would have to return to each set to film the other sequences in the script that occurred in them.


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The business with McCoy’s hand going through the body and the table was accompished by a locked off camera and filming twice. See setup 27X1 in the script and then on the camera direction page.



As you can see, I originally planned to do it in one setup, panning from the corpse to the desk. The set was different than what I had planned, so I did it in two setups -- first McCoy and the corpse; then McCoy at the table. (The closeup of McCoy’s hand and the back of the dead crewman was filmed later on the insert stage.)


There was an additional wrinkle in the plans. Well actually it was caused by not wanting any wrinkles. The costumes had no zippoers; they had no buttons or snaps. The guys were SEWN into the space suits. That meant when any of them needed to make a visit to the restroom, they had to be unsewn, and when they were ready to return to the set, they had to be resewn into the suit. Zippers are faster!


I don’t feel it is disparaging to point out that Jerry Finnerman was missed. His were very large shoes to fill, both as to his artistic ability and his speed. Al Francis, very new to the post of director of photography and faced with a very difficult show with unexpected complications -- well let me put it kindly and just say -- his feet were smaller.


Now back to the Transporter Room, where Scotty, because of diminished power, can only bring back three at a time.


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With the loss of a half day caused by the wardrobe situation, I did not complete the first day’s schedule.


As was the usual practice, scenes in the Enterprise bridge were filmed at the end of the schedule, so my next commitments were to return to the sets I had filmed on the Defiant (sick bay, medical lab, engineering) only now they would be sets on the Enterprise. And there was also a long dialogue scene between Spock and McCoy in Kirk’s quarters.


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And now for some of the action!


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There was one other scene in the lab between McCoy ad Nurse Chapel. Now on to the engineering set.


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And there were other short, what I called bread-and-butter-scenes, usually angles of Scotty talking to the bridge. And finally sick bay.


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And one other scene between McCoy and Uhura in sick bay.


By the end of the third day I had completed all of the sequences in the transporter room, sick bay, the medical lab, engineering and all but one of the silver lame suit sequences in the Defiant bridge. What was scheduled and had not been completed were four scenes in the Enterprise bridge -- a total of 7 1/8 pages. I was asked to come to Fred Freiberger’s office at the completion of the day’s shooting. There he informed me I was being removed from the project. I was being replaced by what he called a “fireman”, someone who could come in and just get it in the can. The matter of the loss of time on the first day, which I figure would have given me an additional five pages completed, was not discussed. I had spent the past six weeks on STAR TREK, prepping and shooting IS THERE IN TRUTH NO BEAUTY and THE THOLIAN WEB. I know I must have had some meeting with Freiberger before this, but this is the only interaction with him I remember.


The following day, Thursday, the Hollywood trade prapers, Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter, each carried a news story issued by Douglas Kramer’s office (Kramer was the head of television production for Paramount Studios) detailing my being removed as director of THE THOLIAN WEB on STAR TREK. The article pointed out the studio’s intent to curtail the problem of films not being completed as scheduled. Gene Roddenberry telephoned me. He was outraged, apologetic and sympathetic.


Why, forty-two years later am I writing about this? Am I looking for some kind of vindication? I have no need to. Right after all this occurred I was summoned to Joe Youngerman’s office. Youngerman was the head of the Directors Guild of America. The Guild was very protective of its members, and Joe wanted to hear my side of the story. It was at that time that I stated I did not want screen credit. For me it was simply going to become a nonoccurrence. And that’s the way it was for many years. But studio records, investigative journalists and finally the internet have managed to reconnect me to THE WEB. In fact in their book THE AMERICAN VEIN (to which I have referred in a previous posting) Christopher Wicking and Tise Vahimagi spend more time in their section on me, talking about my direction of THE THOLIAN WEB than on any other film I directed.


Forty-two years later I can also see that this incident was a part of a larger movement. When I first started directing television film in 1961, the scripts I was given were very challenging. On DR. KILDARE, ROUTE 66, NAKED CITY, BREAKING POINT, TWILIGHT ZONE, THE FUGITIVE and TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH, the scripts I was given were a challenge, daring me to deliver a final product as good as the producers demanded. But gradually in the mid-sixties, things changed. I found the scripts were getting weaker, and I had to work harder to make up for the deficiencies in order to continue to satisfy the producers’ expectations. Until finally television had become such a lucrative business, the demands on the director were more about speed than quality, and I found myself in a position of wanting to do better than what was requested. Oh, there were still “pockets” where the old times prevailed -- STAR TREK in its first season and a third; THE WALTONS in the seventies. And there were others. But strictly in the minority. You know, as a kid I never wanted to be a fireman. But at the age of eighteen, I knew I wanted to be a director.


It seemed in the aftermath of what had just occurred that a meeting must have been called of all the producers in Hollywood. Don’t hire Senensky! I was suddenly, totally unemployable. This went on for a very long time. But the Phoenix does usually manage to rise again..


The fluttering of those wings -- on the next posting.

Friday, June 4, 2010

IS THERE IN TRUTH NO BEAUTY? - July 1968 (Star Trek)

My return to STAR TREK early in their third season found more changes. Producer John Meredyth Lucas was gone, replaced by Fred Freiberger. Director of photography Jerry Finnerman was still there but on his final assignments; he was leaving the series to photograph a feature film. Paramount was still next door, even closer now because the old wall that had separated the two studios, Paramount and Desilu (originally RKO Radio Pictures), had been torn down. I sensed a tense atmosphere in the company almost at once.

There were no locations required to film this episode. In fact the entire show would be filmed in the Enterprise set on Stage 9 except for one four page scene in a herbarium set on swing stage 8. Casting also was relatively easy. For the role of Larry Marvick, the tortured soul in love with Miranda, I wanted David Frankham. David and I had worked together twice before -- first on the main stage of the Pasadena Playhouse on a production of Somerset Maugham’s THE CIRCLE and later on TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH in the episode, THE TRAP. My request was greeted with approval. The role of Miranda was not quite that easy. I remember we checked out Jessica Walter, but she was not available. Other availabilities were checked with no success. Now STAR TREK had a standing rule that guest stars would not repeat unless they were coming back to play the same role. At this point I daringly suggested we bring back Diana Muldaur (who had guest starred the previous season in RETURN TO TOMORROW), and that we put her in a black wig. That suggestion was finally accepted.

Our first day of filming, Tuesday, July 16th, arrived and I faced a mutiny on the Enterprise that I had not faced before. Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy had very strong objections to a portion of the scene we were scheduled to do that day and were refusing to film. Since the objection was to dialogue involving a piece of jewelry that Gene Roddenberry had designed, he was summoned to the set. The morning was spent in a round table with the six characters involved in the scene plus Gene and me. But the battle was strictly between Bill and Leonard vs Gene. Bill and Leonard felt Gene was using the scene as a promotional commercial for a pin he had designed. Gene denied these accusations, but the boys were adamant in their refusal to be a part of something they considered so commercially oriented. The final result of the long morning’s combat was that Gene agreed to rewrite the scene. But that took it off the schedule for that first day’s filming. The balance of the day’s schedule was four short sequences in the Enterprise corridor that totaled a page and a half. I did not want my first day’s work to be limited to a page and a half, so I suggested we do a strong three page scene between Diana Muldaur and David Frankham. Which is what we did.

I will discuss these scenes later as we reach them in the progress of our story. For now let’s go to the Transporter Room and let that story begin. Please pay attention to the instructions being given to the members of the Enterprise on who should be allowed in the presence of the arriving Ambassador.

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I would like to have filmed the following scene when Spock and Dr. Miranda Jones “escort” the Ambassador to his quarters in one dolly back two shot. But the corridor set was not long enough. I had to film it in two dolly individual medium shots of Spock and Miranda, which would be intercut. That way when we ran out of set, we moved back to the starting position and continued the scene in another setup. I know it took two runs (possibly three) to complete filming each of the two characters. And again note how the passageway was cleared of all ship personnel!

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Here is the script for the following sequence when Spock “meets” the Ambassador. Pay attention to Scene 22.














And now the scene.
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The script just called for a blue light emanating from the receptacle. Jerry Finnerman very wisely turned the blue to green. My very strong objection to what was done after I turned in my director’s cut was to the comic strip animation used to represent the ugliness of the Ambassador. I don’t know who was responsible; that kind of vulgarizing technique had never intruded into STAR TREK before, so I have my suspicions. Since the Ambassador is described as being so ugly that any human seeing him would be driven insane, it was more powerful to see the Ambassador only through the reactions of the people in contact with him. It is a perfect example of a scene that would benefit by leaving something to the imagination of the viewer, rather than treating the whole thing as if it were just another sequence in an episode of BATMAN! Plus which the true intent of the scene was negated. After Spock leaves and Miranda looks at the Ambassador without wearing her visor, the emphasis should not be on how ugly he is. The real question should be: Why can she look at the Ambassador without her visor?

The portion of the dining scene that caused so much consternation that first day was rewritten by Gene Roddenberry. As you will see, the business with the IDIC pin that Spock wears was drastically trimmed so that all could dine (and act) at ease.
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Another page from the script.














And now the scene.
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I don't think I have to state again my dismay at another superimposition of the receptacle. And this time it is so WRONG! Miranda is reading by her telepathic ability the thought of murder. She doesn’t know who is doing the thinking. There is no victim involved. As you will see in the next clip, she will ask if she was the intended victim.

As I stated earlier, METAMORPHOSIS was my favorite STAR TREK episode. I felt there was a poetic dimension beyond science fiction. I saw some of that same element in this script. And Jerry Finnerman certainly rose to the challenge in his photographing it, as you will see in the next clip, the scene we filmed that first day with Diana and David. And that scene was a good example of why I liked to have more than just the intended day’s schedule prepared. And why I liked to work with actors whom I could rely on to give performances like the ones you are about to see in scenes that they were not scheduled to do. Filming I found usually followed the lines of Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will.
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Again another intrusion. And the superimposition of the Ambassador’s receptacle is WRONG!  Miranda’s next line was, “Who do you want to kill, Larry? Is it me?” The Ambassador at this point does not figure in the equation.

The next day at dailies, following this scene, Bobby Justman was heard to remark, “I wonder how she’ll look in a red wig.”

Remember the fish-eye 9mm lens Jerry Finnerman introduced me to on METAMORPHOSIS. There we used it to give a greater expanse to a very small area. I wanted to use it again, but this time, as you will see -- differently. And if you're thinking as you see the various shots of the corridor -- that looks like a very long corridor -- that is the miracle of the wide angle lens. Those shots were filmed with either an 18mm or a 20mm lens. (Although the static shots where there is distortion, where the walls lean, those were filmed with the 9mm.)

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This was my second experience dealing with a mind link. My previous episode, RETURN TO TOMORROW filmed during the second season, had three characters mind linking to inanimate persons.

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Miranda objects to Spock’s mind linking with the Ambassador. And a scene reveals a major challenge Diana Muldaur faced in playing Miranda.

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Gene Roddenberry, in his conception of the character of Spock, and Leonard Nimoy, in his total realization of that character, had boxed in an enormously versatile actor. Earlier in THIS SIDE OF PARADISE Spock was freed emotionally by the spores, and Leonard was able to use his talent way beyond the constraints of Spock’s character. The mind link was another route to this same freedom.

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Here I had another opportunity to use the 9mm lens; and Leonard had an opportunity to really stretch.

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Television didn’t often provide scenes that exploded emotionally. For the most part it always seemed controlled and careful. The excitement was generated by car chases and fights. But occasionally a script would provide that excitement by the conflict between the characters. I think you saw it earlier in the death of Larry Marvick. Now Kirk and Miranda go at it.

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And the final scene where I used the 9mm lens for the mad man’s point of view!

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Remember at the beginning of this posting when I urged you to pay attention to the cautions about who could be in the presence of the Ambassador?

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Did you catch the gross error? The script and my director’s cut had Kirk say, “Peace”, and he exited. What idiot decided to have him hang around, without a visor, which wouldn’t have protected him anyway because he was human? I have run out of scorn!


I think friendships in show business are different than in any other profession.  Because they are founded so much on emotions of the work, very close ones can evolve in very short periods of time.  But the profession also separates people very quickly and for long periods of time.  I have found that when reunions occur, the friendships pick up right where they left off. I had not seen David Frankham for 22 years when he recently came to visit.  We had first met and worked together 50 years ago. And as I said, the bonds of friendship did not recognize the long period of separation.  While he visited, we watched my posting of IS THERE IN TRUTH NO BEAUTY? on a big screen.  The following pictures were taken of David viewing his performance. 


The second picture to me is very surreal.  Today’s David is looking at his performance on the screen.  But Larry Marvik  seems to be thinking, “Why is that old codger staring at me?”  Much like the Jeff Daniels character in Woody Allen’s THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, this character on the screen is aware of those watching him. 



I have a joke I have told for years.

As I sat alone in my room, sad and lonely and without a friend, a voice came to me from out of the gloom and said, “Cheer up. Things could be worse.” So I cheered up -- and sure enough -- things got worse.

That little joke can serve as a preview for my next posting!