Star Trek News

    06.08.00 Ryan, Takei Celebrate a Classic

A meeting of generations -- not to mention quadrants -- occurred last night as Jeri Ryan and George Takei appeared on stage together at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

Ryan (Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager) was the host for Wednesday night's screening of the 1960 science-fiction film "The Time Machine," presented by the Los Angeles Conservancy. But she kept the crowd of 1,600 waiting for a couple of minutes as Master of Ceremonies Maxwell DeMille announced that Ryan had not shown up yet -- in fact, she left a note stating that if she were not there by 8:00, the proceedings should start without her. But then the curtain opened and Ryan "arrived" in the time machine -- an exact replica of the prop from the classic movie. Stepping up to the mike, she apologized for being late, saying, "I had urgent business in the 24th century." (The bit was a take-off of the protagonist's introduction in the evening's film.)

Ryan proceeded to introduce Takei (Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek), who served as host last year for a similar screening of "Forbidden Planet." Takei made a pitch on behalf of the L.A. Conservancy and their efforts to preserve the vintage structures of the Historic Theater District and other landmarks of greater Los Angeles. "We want these treasures to live long and prosper," Takei proclaimed, who then left the stage wielding the Vulcan salute.

Ryan read a tribute to George Pal, director of "The Time Machine," lauding him for his vision and innovation, and for paving the way for all the science-fiction classics that would follow, including Star Trek. Pal, who died in 1980, produced or directed some of the most memorable sci-fi films of the 1950's and 60's, including "The War of the Worlds," "When Worlds Collide" and "Destination Moon."

The Voyager star then introduced and interviewed the evening's special guests: Alan Young, who played Filby in "The Time Machine" (also famous as Wilbur in the TV sitcom Mr. Ed); Arnold Leibovit, executive producer of the upcoming DreamWorks/Warner Bros. remake based on the H.G. Wells novel; and Forrest J. Ackerman, world renowned sci-fi historian and collector.

The guests discussed the making of "The Time Machine" and the evolution of science fiction film and TV. Leibovit noted that Gene Roddenberry was a close friend of George Pal -- they had offices across from each other at Paramount, and they shared spaghetti lunches. It was from Pal that Roddenberry learned how to create many of the futuristic sounds he used in Star Trek. In fact, the transporter sound effect was directly inspired by the noise the Martian war machines made in "The War of the Worlds."

Ackerman recalled the time decades ago when he personally encountered the author of "The Time Machine," which was published in 1895. Ackerman said he had expected H.G. Wells to be an imposing figure with a low, booming voice, but instead, he saw a short, rotund man with a squeaky voice who talked rather slowly.

Leibovit promised that the special effects in the upcoming remake "will be quite spectacular." He said the script currently is still being written, and no actors have been cast yet. "For Weena, we're looking for a blonde..." Leibovit noted, implying that Ryan could reprise the role of the pretty Eloi played by Yvette Mimieux in 1960.

In further celebration of classic science fiction, the intermission that followed treated the audience to a performance by Ed Sussman playing sci-fi themes on the "theramin" -- a musical device that uses radio frequency oscillation to produce its ethereal tones.

Then, to commemorate its 40th anniversary, a restored print of "The Time Machine" was screened, amidst the Orpheum's French-themed architecture featuring marble pilasters, large chandeliers, silk wall panels, and other trappings of an earlier era. Tom Paris would be proud of the restoration effort made on this early 20th-century artifact. More information about the L.A. Conservancy and future events like this one can be found at https://www.laconservancy.org/.