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Date: 5/8/97 2:28:36 PM
<<Children of Time>>
I'm going to wait until next week to answer questions on this one just to
give more people a chance to see it first. Re-post your Odo/Kira questions
next week, please.
<<Did you expect this backlash [over Kirk's death] when you wrote the
We knew it would be controversial and it has been. I knew that some people
would hate his death and others would accept it. But we were the writers and
it was something that we believed in. That's how it works -- we put out a
script that we like and then hope that others share that appreciation. If
they don't, they don't. I may be disappointed that more people don't like
the choice we made, but that doesn't change my personal opinion of what we
did. And it's not a matter of "sticking to my guns" just for the sake of
being obstinate. There are lots of things I've written that I don't like or
that in retrospect I felt were mistakes (please don't ask me for a list of
Ron's Greatest non-Hits, there's a limit to my interest in self-flagellation)
but I honestly don't look back on Kirk's death as a mistake.
And also, to be honest, the reaction from the fans has been remarkably even.
While the Bring Back Kirkers are certainly vocal, they don't by any stretch
of the imagination have a clear and decisive majority among the fan reaction
that we've gotten. Some liked it, some didn't. You can dispute that if you
wish, but the cold truth is that the people who want to see Vedek Bareil back
on DS9 are not only louder, but more persistant, and more numerous. (And
we're not bringing him back either.) Now, I do not want to denigrate the
passion of those who feel that killing Kirk was a mistake and that he should
be brought back, but it is not going to happen on DS9. That is our decision
and I'm afraid that nothing is going to change that. I won't tell you to get
over it or that you can't express your opinion on this matter, but I will say
that this subject is basically closed on DS9.
<<In your opinion which episodes of season 5 turned out to be the most
satisfying? The least? Which one was the most difficult to produce?>>
My two favorites were "Trials & Tribble-ations" and "The Darkness and the
Light." I think T&T was able to fulfill all of our expectations for the
episode and that it's a unique piece of television that will stand up for a
long time. "Darkness" was a show that I felt came together in every
department -- writing, acting, directing, music, lighting, etc. -- and I
thought it was a bold and provocative hour of TV. T&T was easily the most
difficult show to produce on every level and it is a testament to the skills
and committment of the entire DS9 production staff that this episode turned
out to be not just a good recreation of TOS, but a nearly perfect one. We
all wish we had another crack at the Risa show.
<<Another silly question, which DS9 set is the most dramatically effective
(in terms of staging a scene)?>>
The Promenade and Quark's still provide us with the most versatile settings
and the widest variety of choices when we're staging a scene.
<<Speaking of the Duras sisters...since the Klingons were eventually brought
into the fold on DS9, in retrospect are you sorry that you dispatched the
sisters in Generations?>>
A little bit. They were great and we did keep them alive in an earlier draft
of Generations that had an extended sequence with the crew from the crashed
saucer section having to fight off and then make an accomodation with the
Duras sisters in order to get one shuttlecraft off the planet with some of
the Enterprise children aboard before the shock wave hit the planet surface.
<<how about bringing back Admiral Nechayev?>>
It's possible, but nothing on the boards at present.
Date: 5/8/97 2:51:51 PM
<<I liked Relics, but I never looked at LaForge in quite the same way again.
Legends deserve respect.>>
Respect should not be confused with blind (no pun intended) adulation.
Geordi did respect Scotty, but he also had a job to do and Scotty was
definitely getting in the way for a while. By the end of the show, the
Geordi/Scotty arc had paid off with each of them having a new-found respect
for the other.
<<Now that the broadcast networks are able to profit from syndicating
programs they own, do you think it's possible that after DS9 ends its run,
one of the broadcast networks might air another Star Trek? Or, after
Voyager, UPN might? After all, the only reason TNG was syndicated was
because the networks couldn't afford to produce it at a deficit for so
I really don't know. Paramount might want another Trek for UPN or they might
not, it depends on the financial state of both entities at the time when they
decide to make another Trek series (if they do decide to do one). As for
TNG, my understanding is that while Barry Diller wanted the series for Fox,
Paramount's decision to syndicate the show was really based on an awareness
that the then-moribund first-run syndication market had not been successfully
exploited yet and they thought they could make a killing without the network
intermediary (and they did).
<<Does this mean Worf is no longer dishonored? Will he no longer introduce
himself as "Worf, son of Mogh"?>>
He's still a Son of Mogh, but he's also a member of the House of Martok and
as such has all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.
Martok has essentially out-manuevered Gowron's personal grievance.
<<Is it true Dax will agree to become Worf's bride in the season finalie ?>>
Tune in and find out.
<<what are our chances of seeing the following actors before DS9 ends her run
as a program?
There are no plans for any of the above people to make an appearance on the
show this season.
<<what did happen to the rest of the Engineering crew who were transformed
into Borg in First Contact? Did they bite the bullet or get rescued? >>
They bit the bullet. As far as we know, Picard was the only man to be
successfully de-Borgified. (Although I understand that has now changed on
Voyager.) Everyone else who was Borgified on the E-E presumably died with
the death of the Borg Queen.
<<Since you writer-folks have seemingly painted yourself into a corner where
you're going to HAVE to deal with the Odo/Kira relationship, can we hope to
see some more of it being dealt with this season? (Say, in the finale?) Or
are we going to have to wait until -- GASP!!! CHOKE!!!! -- next season?>>
There will be more on the Odo/Kira stuff this season and more next season.
<<After watching "Soldiers of the Empire", I noticed that the look of the
crew was drastically different that what we'd seen in previous films. Was
Yes. My primary concern was that the audience should be able to
differentiate between the individual members of the Klingon crew and so we
tried to give each of them a different "look." I also wanted the crew of the
Rotaran to stand apart from other Klingon ships, to get the sense that these
guys had really been through some rough times and that it was becoming
apparent to anyone who encountered them.
Date: 5/8/97 3:23:19 PM
<<what did you do when you got to LA? This has probably been asked, but I
don't remember if it was. What kind of jobs did you do? Did you try writing
for any other shows before TNG?>>
My first job was as an animal hospital receptionist. ("So what is Fluffy's
little problem today, ma'am? She swallowed your husband's condoms? And you
want them back? Let me pull your chart...") After that, I worked as a
messenger, a personnel director, a dispatcher, and a manager of "servicing"
for New World International (essentially contract administration, I was the gu
y who made sure we got the money from foreign film buyers and then sent them
prints or tapes of such New World classics as "Slugs" "Hell Comes to Frog
Town" and "Dead Again").
I had co-written a spec script for "Cheers" with my roommate, but we never
submitted it to the show and it was more of an exercise for us than a serious
attempt at breaking in. I also co-wrote a feature spec with him, but the
process wasn't fun and the script was incoherent to say the least. I started
and stopped numerous other scripts for the next three years, but my first
real attempt to write something and get serious about getting someone to buy
it was "The Bonding." Yes, I am the recepient of more than my fair share of
good fortune and I keep my four-leaf clover locked in a vault for
Date: 5/8/97 3:40:32 PM
<<Would you care to list your five favorite U.S. Presidents?>>
There are a lot of ways to answer this one (and I will, since history is one
of my personal interests, and hey, it's my folder).
If I had to rank them in terms of importance to the nation and what they
contributed in historical terms, I'd say: Lincoln, Washington, FDR,
Jefferson, and Wilson. The first three quite literally saved the country
from destruction and also left behind a fundamentally different nation than
the one they found.
Lincoln's determination to save the Union at all costs and his decision to
free the slaves ranks the highest in historical import to me, closely
followed by Washington's taking the reins of the fledgling Republic and
guiding it through those first crucial years. In my opinion, Washington's
biggest contributions actually predate his presidency: winning the
Revolution and throwing crucial support behind the US Constitution.
FDR steered us through both the Depression and WWII, either one of which
could've easily destroyed us as a people from either a domestic revolution or
the domination of the world by the Axis powers, and also remade the Federal
government and the concept of Federalism itself with the New Deal.
Jefferson's foreign policy regarding the Barbary Pirates (bringing the US
Navy onto the world stage), purchase of the Louisiana territory, and
commissioning of the Lewis & Clark expedition land him on the list, but like
Washington many of his greatest achievements both in Congress and in Virginia
predate his term in office.
Woodrow Wilson's internationalism has reverberated throughout the 20th
century. His ideas on American diplomacy and our role on the world stage
have influenced all those that have come after him. The League of Nations is
the direct ancestor to the United Nations and our involvement in WWI leads
directly to our involvement in WWII and to the Atlantic Charter and to NATO.
In terms of who I am personally interested in as historical figures, I would
have to say: FDR, JFK, Nixon, LBJ, and Lincoln. You'll note a heavy slant
toward the 20th century on this list because I've always been fascinated with
WWII and the post-war era.
FDR stands head and shoulders above everyone else this century and I also
find him to be a fascinating man on his own terms. From his battle with
polio to the fireside chats to the New Deal to his clear-eyed view of Nazi
Germany to his vision of the UN, I find him to be a compelling and amazing
JFK's life and death have arguably influenced not only the presidents who
came after him, but also the entire nation. Even setting aside the Cuban
Missile Crisis, the Peace Corps, the Apollo program, and "Ich ein Berliner"
(sp?), he's moved into the pantheon of our American legends for what he
represents and how his death impacted our world. No amount of personal digs
at his character can deny his impact on our country -- just try to understand
the world we've lived in since 1960 without refering to JFK.
Nixon is simply one of the most fascinating men we've ever elected to the
Presidency. Vietnam, Watergate, China, SALT, "the enemies list", taking us
off the gold standard -- there's a lot of stuff to digest with this dark and
troubled man with a genius for foreign policy and a host of inner demons that
ultimately destroyed him.
LBJ is another man whose legacy is full of contradictions and whose
personality was bigger than the office he held. It's hard to imagine this
Texan in the White House today, but while he was there, we got civil rights
and race riots, the space program and Vietnam, the Great Society and the near
breakdown of society. He was as big as the state from which he hailed, and
so were his flaws.
I'm interested in Lincoln's ability to see the goal of Union so clearly that
he was willing to do anything to achieve it even if it meant freeing the
slaves and suspending the right of habeas corpus. He was battered and hated
by many, but never wavered from his central goal.
Date: 5/9/97 2:12:20 PM
<<Ron, there's been talk that it's cheaper for studios, syndicators,
whatever, to sell reruns of series that have a lifespan of about 7 years.
Any truth to this?>>
There seem to be varying ideas of what constitutes the "ideal" package of
shows for an affiliate to purchase for strip (5 days a week or more)
syndication. I *think* the mininum number to even survive as a package is
around 75-80 episodes and that a good solid number is 150. The goal is to
have enough episodes so that an affiliate can run them for several weeks
before having to repeat the package. So with 75 episodes running 5 days a
week, the affiliate will have 15 weeks of programming before having to start
over again. 150 episodes yield 30 weeks and so on. 30 weeks is a long time
and stations feel pretty comfortable in restarting a syndication package
after that much time.
Now if a series has say, 200 episodes, it will give them an additional 10
weeks, but the real question is whether or not the affiliate is willing to
pay X amount for those additional 50 episodes in order to buy themselves 10
extra weeks of programming. I think you can see that at some point you get
the law of diminishing returns -- when X exceeds the value of 10 weeks to the
affiliate. When that point is reached, the affiliate no longer has an
incentive to buy those last two seasons of the series. Everything is
relative, of course, and some shows are extremely valuable (Cheers, Seinfeld,
Roseanne, etc.) and the fact that they have 10 years+ of episodes available
is actually a huge plus, but each show is different and the magic "ideal"
number can float from show to show. (That is the most math I've done since
college. My head hurts.)
<<Despite the changes you've helped introduce into the world of Trek, you
maintain your respect for the idealism of Woodrow Wilson and Gene Roddenberry
even as you acknlowledge their flaws.>>
That's a neat bit of reasoning. I have to say that I'd never quite drawn
that correlation, but I think it's pretty accurate.
<<I write alone on some projects, and with a collaborator on others, and I
find that although we are very strong together, the downside (she cannot meet
a deadline to save her life) is so frustrating that I'm considering dumping
her--if I can do that and save the friendship. How do you feel about writing
with a partner?>>
Writing with a partner is a very intimate experience. The level of trust
required to sit in a room with someone and say "That stinks," and to know
that it's nothing personal and that each of you is just interested in making
*the work* better is a rare thing to find in my experience. If you can't
trust your partner -- even if it's just about deadlines -- my advice is to
dump her and move on. Writing is tough enough.
<<I don't think Nixon was "destroyed" by his demons. He was beaten. but
never broken. Only his presidency, and his place in history, were ruined>>
I'm not sure I can agree with you here. In my view, Nixon definitely
destroyed himself in office (his later "rehabilitation" notwithstanding).
The Watergate coverup and the various "dirty tricks" he masterminded and
carried out were his own undoing. I do have great respect for him as a
statesman, but things like breaking into Daniel Ellsberg's (sp?) office,
using the IRS to get back at his enemies, obstructing justice, harassing the
anti-war protesters, and the Saturday Night Massacre, were self-inflicted
wounds that not only hurt him and his legacy, but damaged the office itself.
Date: 5/9/97 2:43:07 PM
<<Just want to tell you that ["Soldiers of the Empire" is] the greatest story
about the Klingons since "Sons of Mogg" (sp??) and the Voy. ep with the
B'lanna double. And to thank you personnally for there being several Klingon
women on this ep. After that rotten trick that Mr. Rick Berman did against we
female viewers in which women's rights were resinded in the Klingon Empire
and a woman ca'nt even have her own house or belong on the Council, this was
First of all, thank you and everyone else who's written in to say how much
they enjoyed this episode. I like it too. Second of all, I should tell you
that I'm the one who changed the status of women in the Empire, not Rick. I
co-wrote both "Reunion" (in which K'Ehleyr was offered the Council seat) and
"The House of Quark" (in which Grilka was told she could not serve on the
Council because she's a woman). The reason for the change was: a) to
service a plot element in "House of Quark"; and b) to differentiate the
Klingons from the UFP and the Romulans. The idea was that the Klingons were
a traditionally patriarchal society and that while many elements of that have
disappeared over the years, the Council itself was still the provence of male
warriors. This is not an endorsement of that idea, but rather an attempt to
make them *different* than us. For example, their government is not a
democracy, but rather an oligarchy ruled by powerful Houses, with an Emperor
as head of state and we certainly aren't promoting that either! It's an
alien society with alien values and we shouldn't be able to identify with all
aspects of their culture. That said, I've always tried to treat Klingon men
and women with a great deal of respect and have never tried to show the
female warriors of the Empire as any less worthy or respected than their male
counterparts. No male Klingon would ever question for even a moment the
notion of serviving under a woman on a ship, or fighting with them at his
<<Why was [the additional scenes with the Duras sisters and the crashed
saucer section] thrown out of the final draft?? >>
The two eternal curses of the screenwriter -- time and money. The script was
too long and needed a sizeable cut and the sequence was also very expensive
(phaser battles, jungle, exterior ship hull, Klingon extras & stuntmen, many
VFX). David Carson suggested the cut and while we all hated to lose it, we
also knew that he was right.
<<Do you have any regrets about [Generations]?>>
Sure. I wish we could've re-thought the whole Nexus idea. That and Soren's
character were the two big things that I wish we could've taken another crack
at. The timetable did have a lot to do with the script, but I'd be lying if
I said I had a better idea at the time and just needed a few more weeks to
work on it. It was the best we could do at the time and I wasn't grousing
about a need for big re-writes back then.
<<I think in season 7 of TNG we found out that one of the Duras sisters (I
can't remember which) was expecting to have a child. Did she have this child
before she died in Generations? If so was he/she on the ship during it's
destruction? If not could there be a future "Wrath of Little Duras" to
We think she did have the child before the movie, but whether or not we'll
ever see this baby or mention it again is up in the air.
<<Why does DS9 have to have their season finale in the middle of June? Would
you prefer an earlier date?.... since you are putting so much in the finale
this year, will Paramount be selling it more than usual? >>
I have no idea, YES I WOULD, and I FERVENTLY HOPE SO!!!!!
<<Have you thought about doing a story set in the years pre-Kirk? Say, just
after the formation of Starfleet and the launching of the first Federation
This would be one of my personal preferences for the next series, but that's
all it is -- a personal preference. I'm not working on anything, and to my
knowledge, neither is Paramount.
Date: 5/9/97 3:01:30 PM
<<How come The Federation hasn't come up with a way to scan for changelings
with a tri-corder yet?...How come The Federation hasn't come up with a way to
scan for changelings with a tri-corder yet?>>
Neither of these are abilities we want the Federation to have yet as they
would neutralize two of the biggest advantages the Dominion have over us.
<<IF at some point in the near future it was decided to utilize the Kirk
character, say in a new Trek show dealing with events after the Academy but
prior to the 5-year mission, and IF you were involved with such a project,
and IF you had any input as to who would play this younger Kirk (all respects
to Mr Shatner, but say for the sake of argument he declined), -Do you have
any actor in mind who you think you might like to see in this role?>>
Personally, I can't see anyone else playing the role until well after William
Shatner is no longer with us. He IS Kirk and anyone else would have a very
tough time being accepted in the role while Bill is around. And I hope that
Bill is with us for a long time yet to come.
<<Ron, will the real reason for Garak's exile from Cardassia be revealed?>>
This is under discussion right now and could happen early next year.
<<What characters would you like to see come back next season to reprise
there roles (Non regulers)?>>
We have so many recurring characters that it's hard to pick any of them out,
but suffice it to say that we plan on seeing A LOT of familiar faces next
season. And yes, we do have a plan.
<<COuld you tell us a little more about the original "All good things" where
the enterprise is blown-up.>>
We didn't have much more than the brief story outline I posted in Ask Ron
#13. It never got beyond the initial story phase and we never even got
around to roughing out part two.
<<Why do we see in trek writing an unwillingness to make major changes? >>
Part of this is due to the nature of episodic television. The show has to
continue and has to bear a close resemblance to the show you saw last week or
you'll stop watching. This rule of thumb is less stringent on a "serial"
series with many continuing storylines, but Trek is not a serial by decree of
Paramount and the affiliates. Serials often put off new viewers since they
feel they're so far behind everything and they're a pain for affiliates to
rerun because each show must be shown in precisely the order it was
Date: 5/9/97 3:28:53 PM
<<FDR -- This one is a tough one for me because I disagree with much of what
he did, especially on the domestic side. He did give the country hope during
the depression, and was a magnificent
leader during WWII, at up until the very end. It was probably his health, but
his acceptance of Soviet control of eastern Europe, especially Poland, was
wrong. I could never understand why he sided with Stalin over Churchill.>>
Setting aside his domestic policies (which I admire for both their substance
and intent *at the time they were implemented*) I have to disagree with your
view of FDR's "acceptance" of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. The Yalta
Conference has gotten a bad rap over the years as the moment when FDR "gave
away" Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. But there is very little he
could've done to stop the Soviet Union from occupying and consolidating their
hold on these nations. The Red Army was there, it wasn't going to leave, and
the only way we could've forced the issue was to threaten WWIII, which
would've never gone over with an American public screaming for rapid
demobilization. Stalin had all the cards, and FDR's hand was pretty weak, so
the ony real option was to try and deal with "Uncle Joe" and hope that a
policy of what would later be known as "engagement" would modify Soviet
behavior. FDR died well before he could see that engagement would never work
with Stalin's USSR and our 20/20 hindsight on this matter is a little unfair.
There was also the very real issue of getting a Russian committment to enter
the war against Japan. Again, using hindsight, we know that Russian entry
into the war was unnecessary, but *at the time* no one knew for certain if
the atomic bomb would even work and an invasion of the Japanese home islands
was a very real possibility. Did FDR trade the freedom of the Poles for an
unneeded ally in the war against Japan? Maybe, but I still don't see an
alternative for the Americans or the English, Churchill's belligerency
notwithstanding (and I am an unabashed admirer of Sir Winston as well) unless
we were ready for WWIII.
<<Reagan. - Brought the country out of the doldrums of the 60's and 70's.
Restored the position of the US in the world, both militarily and
economically. Like FDR he changed how Americans thought about themselves and
their country. Masterfully handled the "endgame of the Cold War">>
I think any assessment of Reagan is premature. His real impact and legacy
can't be fairly judged at this point in time. Personally, I credit him with
giving the country a real boost of morale and seizing the opportunity to
reach out to Gorbachev, but I also found many of his domestic policies
loathsome and his economic legacy to have been disastrous (remember that $3
trillion debt he left behind?). I'm glad you credit him with handling the
"endgame" of the Cold War and not for "winning" the Cold War as so many
others have. I think that the US victory in the Cold War was a result of the
policies and strength showed by every President since Truman and that both
Republicans and Democrats have a right to be proud of how we defeated the
USSR while avoiding the apocalypse of a nuclear exchange.
<<I see Wilson as something of a naive innocent trying to impose a set of
rules on a world that works on the principle of power and force. >>
I'll grant you that Wilson was ahead of his time and miscalculated his
support in the Senate for the League of Nations. But as an earlier post
said, I think the idealism and goals of Wilson have shaped our conduct of
foreign policy throughout this century and that his goals are still worthy
ones for us to pursue today even if they cannot be achieved yet in a world
still run by force. To me, America's foreign policy should be based neither
solely on Wilson's idealism nor Nixon/Kissinger's realpolitik, but should be
a blend of the two: a pursuit of our values and ideals tempered by an
understanding of the real world and the limited methods available to achieve
Date: 5/9/97 3:35:40 PM
<<Are you at liberty to tell us what some of you and your families plans are
for the break? I know you're a city slicker, but if you're ever in
Missouri, let me recommend the Lake of the Ozarks.>>
I'd rather not say where we're going at the moment, but I'll tell you about
it when we get back. And I ain't no city slicker, bub. My hometown is
Chowchilla, CA (population 6,000), both sets of grandparents used to own
dairies, and I have spent more time than I care to think about wrangling a
milk machine onto the udder of a recalitrant bovine. If I'm ever in the Big
Mo, I'll definitely check out the Lake of the Ozarks.