The View From the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life In Hollywood
The View From the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood
By Nicholas Meyer
If you’re a fan of Avallanath then chances are you already know Nick Meyer as the director of Star Treks II, IV, and VI. What you might not know, however, is that Meyer is pretty much singlehandedly responsible for saving the entire Trek franchise in the early ’80s. Star Trek: The Motion Picture had made money hand over fist thanks to Trekkies who were so desperate for a new adventure featuring Kirk and company that they pointedly ignored how long, boring, and dull the film was and saw it in droves. The Motion Picture also suffered from ridiculous cost overruns thanks to having the development costs of the failed Star Trek: Phase II series tacked onto its overall budget.
So there was interest in Star Trek in Hollywood, but the first movie was considered something of a boondoggle. Star Trek II got the green light based largely on the inexplicably large box office return from the first movie, but it had a miniscule budget and quickly spiraled into development hell as multiple new scripts were written without ever coalescing into a single coherent whole. What’s more, the deadline for shooting on Star Trek II so that it would be finished in time for its release date was closely approaching. With no final script and Paramount already gun shy about backing another Trek movie there was a very real possibility that Star Trek II would be killed before it even had a chance to leave spacedock.
Enter Nick Meyer who took on the existing scripts and rewrote them in under two weeks. Without Meyer taking on this herculean writing task The Wrath of Khan as we know and love it wouldn’t exist. It likely wouldn’t have been the smashing success and cornerstone of geek culture that it is today. Star Trek could very well have stayed in development hell or, even worse, a more mediocre movie could have been filmed based on one of the previous scripts and the franchise could have been killed outright. That would mean no The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine. On the plus side that would also mean no Voyager or Enterprise, but that’s neither here nor there.
For the longer version of that story I highly recommend you pick up William Shatner’s Star Trek Movie Memories. It’s a fascinating behind the scenes look at how the Star Trek movies were made with Nick Meyer’s interviews in particular stealing the show.
It was because of those interviews that I snapped up The View From the Bridge on my Kindle, though View isn’t just about Star Trek. Meyer has had a long and varied career from a start as a novelist to his eventual transition to the director’s chair. Notable non-Star Trek work includes his directorial debut Time After Time as well as the terrifying nuclear war TV movie The Day After that was so influential that it caused President Reagan to change his mind about the U.S. ability to win a nuclear war.
In short, Meyer is a fascinating man with a unique perspective on Hollywood and an impressive resume. View From the Bridge is on the Amazon discount rack right now so I can only assume that it didn’t sell well when it was initially published back in 2009. More’s the pity, but it means that you can get a good deal on an excellent autobiography by one of the great unsung heroes of geek culture.