Original crew still on a 'Trek'
2 new 'Star Trek' DVDs arrive in stores
By Douglas Cannon Hyde
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The first entry in the "Star Trek" film series was not going to be the grand, special effects-laden extravaganza it turned out to be, recalls Leonard Nimoy. The original idea, he says, was to make a TV movie of the week.
But then, a certain saga set in a "galaxy far, far, away ..." hit cinemas.
"I think what really made (the film) happen was that in 1977 George Lucas released 'Star Wars,' " Nimoy, the once and always Mr. Spock, says. "It was a gigantic hit, and the people here at Paramount said, 'Well, there's a market for this kind of movie, don't we have something called "Star Trek"?' So we made a movie."
Twenty-two years later, that first movie has warped on to another technology, DVD -- this time with all the extras viewers have come to expect from the discs. "Star Trek: The Motion Picture -- The Director's Edition," released Tuesday, is a two-disc set that features a complete digital restoration of the film, enhanced visual effects, outtakes, behind-the-scenes documentaries, and commentary by its acclaimed director, Robert Wise.
Recently, some of the original cast and crew gathered at Paramount Studios for an early look at the restored film . For the Oscar-winning Wise, who made his name directing classic musicals like "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music," the opportunity to improve the 1979 film was too good to resist.
"I was delighted because I didn't get a chance to do everything I wanted on the film before we had to get it out and get it to Washington for the [original] premiere," says the 87-year-old director. "And so I was delighted when they called me and said, 'Do you want to do some more work on it?' I said, 'Absolutely.' "
For George "Sulu" Takei, the reality of working on 'Star Trek' again after so many years didn't sink in until the first day of filming. "I started seeing these wonderful familiar faces. The uniform was different, but there was Leonard, there was Bill (Shatner, Captain Kirk), there was Jimmy (Doohan, Engineer Scott). It was really great."
'Nobody had ever dreamt'
Although it contains eye-popping visuals, many fans and critics agree the movie's cold feel and ponderous pace make it one of the weaker entries in the "Star Trek" film series. Still, its box-office success paved the way for many sequels, as well as several succeeding TV series.
"It was exciting in that it was the first of the films," says William Shatner. "Nobody had ever dreamt of it being a major motion picture. Robert Wise was one of the leading lights, one of the great directors, and he was quite a force. And so between the idea of it being a major motion picture and Robert Wise directing, it was an important moment in all our lives."
Trekkers can look forward to the re-release of other "Star Trek" films on DVD before too long. Both Shatner and Nimoy say they have agreed to provide commentary for the upcoming discs.
In the meantime, fans can hear Shatner and Nimoy probe each other about "Star Trek" -- and their private lives -- in a no-holds-barred conversation on the Shatner-produced DVD, "Mindmeld," which also hit stores Tuesday.
"When the thought had occurred to me about doing something like 'Mindmeld,' " Shatner recalls, "I called Leonard and asked him about no ground to be untrammeled, we'll go into everything. If you feel funny about some area of our lives, we'll make sure you feel safe about it in the editing process, but don't hold anything back. So the concept was to be as truthful as possible, knowing that we wouldn't get hurt like we might in the hands of a journalist."
'They are the real ones'
But after 35 years of innumerable "Star Trek" books, interviews, documentaries, and conventions, was there anything new and original to say? According to Nimoy, plenty.
"Mindmeld is very fresh. ... We cover some territory that even we have never discussed before between ourselves, very personal stories about how Star Trek affected our lives, how we affected each others lives."
One group currently affected by "Star Trek" is the crew of the real U.S.S. Enterprise, an aircraft carrier now en route to its homebase in Norfolk, Virginia, after successfully completing its mission in the Arabian Sea. As several publications have reported, the ship's crew has been enjoying episodes of the new "Star Trek" TV series, "Enterprise," on the vessel's mess deck.
The TV cast praises their military counterparts.
"They are the real ones," says George Takei. "We were the future fiction version and they're the ones that are making whatever we did credible. It's their heroism, their commitment, their discipline and their victory that's going to make the Starship Enterprise that much more credible."
The Montreal, Quebec-born Shatner also had warm words for Captain Kirk's real-life counterparts. "All Americans -- and this Canadian -- wishes our men Godspeed and good luck," he says.
And Nimoy's message to the crew? Simply this: "Live long and prosper."
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