KPCC's John Rabe talks with author and filmmaker Nicholas Meyer about his new memoir, the tasty and eminently readable "The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood." Here's the raw audio from the interview, much of which will appear on a later Off-Ramp. He's signing the book Wednesday (9-2) at Borders Northridge and Thursday (9-3) at Village Books in the Palisades. Come inside for "the shooting script" for the interview...
Note from John: Here's the script I worked from. I didn't ask all the questions. No time.
Nicholas Meyer: The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood. (Born Dec 1945 – 63 now.)
Signings: Borders Northridge on Wednesday (Sep 2) and Village Books in the Palisades on Thursday (Sep 3).
This is Off-Ramp, I’m John Rabe.
One man injected new life into both the Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek franchises. Nicholas Meyer’s Holmes pastiche “The Seven Percent Solution” made the best seller lists, then got him an Oscar nomination for the screenplay. He scripted and directed "Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan," widely considered the best in the series; co-wrote “Star Trek 4, the Voyage Home;” and directed and co-wrote “Star Trek 6, the Undiscovered Country.” He also directed “Time After Time;” “The Day After,” the TV movie about nuclear war; and “The Deceivers,” with Pierce Brosnan.
Meyer is out with his memoir of filmmaking. It’s called The View from the Bridge, and it recounts his entire career in Hollywood, including many tasty tidbits Trekkies will devour.
Nicholas Meyer, welcome to Off-Ramp.
You had dinner with Albert Einstein?
Did your parents get into your Hollywood career, never really understood it? (Frustrating that they didn’t get into it more?)
Your first big hit was the novel “The Seven Percent Solution,” in which Sherlock Holmes meets Sigmund Freud. You then wrote the screenplay for the movie, which came out in 1976. When did you start reading Conan Doyle? What was the attraction? You’ve got some great stories about the making of the movie, and your encounters with Robert Duvall, who played Watson, and Laurence Olivier as Moriarty. What did you learn about moviemaking from working on “The Seven Percent Solution?”
Let’s talk about Star Trek. The way you tell it, “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan” was essentially 12 days from NOT getting made because they didn’t have a screenplay. This is one of the moments in your book that I could see as a movie, like Frost/Nixon, a behind-the-scenes, this is a crazy world kind of movie.
It’s true, isn’t it, that “Star Trek 2” saved the franchise?
Shatner and Nimoy are still around and doing well and can talk about themselves. But Ricardo Montalban, who played Khan, is gone, and he’s the one I find intriguing. (I know you’ve been sitting here across from me wondering, dying to ask. I’ll tell you: these are my pecs.)
110 – You write that the disgusting creatures Khan has put in Chekov’s ear – the Ceti Alpha 5 eels, were actually Andean shrimp, cousin of the armadillo, an endangered creature, and they were smuggled through customs for the movie by Ole Machiado. You made this up, right?
As you tell it, you fought like hell to keep the hopeful ending out of The Wrath of Khan. But 99% of Trekkies wanted Spock to come back from the dead. And I’m willing to bet you’re glad Doyle brought Holmes back from the dead.
A key moment in your book,The View from the Bridge, is the filming of Spock’s death scene, and the emotion in the room.
If Kirk is Horatio Hornblower, isn’t Spock Sherlock Holmes?
You made “The Day After” in 1983, the TV movie about nuclear war. A hundred million people watched it, and apparently even Reagan was affected by it. But you faced enormous opposition and criticism. How bad was it and why did they react that way?
156 - You say you’re not a creative genius of the first or second order. Quote, “I could never write the ‘Odyssey,’ but I could turn it into a very good screenplay.” Tell me more about this. Do you wish you were more like, I don’t know, Kurosawa or Kubrick?
When you write a screenplay, then start tweaking it through all the drafts, what’s the dialogue attrition rate? Why? Is this just you or is it the same for most movies?
You are in your mid 60s now. Why did it take you until now to write this memoir?
Thanks for joining us on Off-Ramp.
Nicholas Meyer, writer and director. His memoir is called “The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood.” He’s selling and signing copies at Borders Northridge on Wednesday (Sep 2) and Village Books in the Palisades on Thursday (Sep 3).
I’ve had to edit this version of our interview, but for the whole thing, go to kpcc.org and click on Off-Ramp. For Filmweek, I’m John Rabe.
This is Off-Ramp, I’m John Rabe. We’re talking with Nicholas Meyer about his memoir about filmmaking, “The View from the Bridge.”
More with Nicholas Meyer coming up, as Off-Ramp continues.
Nicholas Meyer, writer and director. His memoir is called “The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood.” To buy a copy online and have it benefit KPCC, go to kpcc.org and click on Off-Ramp. This is Off-Ramp, on 89.3-KPCC.
I have a theory that Frederick Forsyth wrote The Day of the Jackal after reading Holmes. Isn’t it “The Adventure of the Aluminum Crutch?”