Goodbye, Starlog

01Starlog Magazine is no more — at least not in print. This is very sad news for me because I put myself through school writing for the magazine (among others) and it had an enormous impact on my life that I am still feeling today. 

On assignment for Starlog, I visited hundreds of movie and TV sets and interviewed so many actors, screenwriters, directors…people like Tom Cruise, Robert Zemeckis, Roy Scheider, Paul Verhoeven, Roger Moore, Michael J. Fox, Michael Crichton, William Friedkin, Sigourney Weaver, Richard Donner, Timothy Hutton, Gene Roddenberry, Richard Maibaum, Dan O'Bannon, Tom Selleck, Wes Craven, Kurt Russell, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Marquand, Tobe Hooper, Johnny Depp, George Lucas, and Lorenzo Semple Jr., to name just a few. And I learned a lot about the movie and TV business along the way.

I collected some of those interviews, along with articles by my friends (and fellow Starlog writers) William Rabkin and Randy & Jean-Marc Lofficier,  in two books — Science Fiction Film-Making in the 1980s and Dreamweavers: Fantasy Film-making in the 1980s.

Perhaps the highlight of my time as a reporter for Starlog was when they flew me to London to cover the premiere of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, the first James Bond film starring Timothy Dalton. 

All the journalists were invited by the studio to the premiere, which Prince Charles and Lady Diana were attending as well. We had to wear tuxedos and were driven to the event in limos. There were huge crowds being held back behind barracades in front of the Odeon Theatre as we pulled up. I got out of the limo just as a short young lady was emerging from the limo in front of me, so we walked in together. People were going nuts, taking pictures of us and waving. I leaned over and whispered to her: "Makes you wish you were famous, doesn't it?"X10799

She laughed, patted my arm, and we parted in the lobby. Almost immediately I was swarmed by my fellow reporters. One of them asked "Do you know who you were walking with?"

I had no idea. I figured she was another reporter. He told me it was Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. I still had no idea who she was. So either she thought my remark was clever or that I was a complete dolt for not knowing who she was. But I like to think that somewhere out there is a photo from that event with a caption like "Chrissie Hynde with unidentified lover."

But, most of all, I am thankful to Starlog for my family. If not for the magazine, I might never have met the charming Lofficiers, which would have been a terrible thing…since they introduced me to my wife Valerie. We've been married for 19 years and have a 13-year-old daughter, Madison.

So for me, Starlog was more than a magazine that covered science fiction and fantasy movies, books and TV shows. It changed my life.

Good-bye, Starlog. I will miss you.

UPDATE: Starlog is gathering some of the reactions to the bad news. My good friend Dave McDonnell, long-time editor of the magazine, posted this:

"Lee Goldberg is an old friend of mine. His unsolicited interview "The Man who Killed Spock" (WRATH OF KHAN writer Jack Sowards) was on my desk the day I started. I lobbied to buy it and he wrote countless pieces for us."

It was my first national magazine sale and I was totally thrilled. That sale, along with tearsheets from some of my subsequent Starlog articles, led to me writing for Newsweek, United Press International, American Film, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times syndicate, among many others. But you never forget your "first."

UPDATE 4-15-2009: More reactions to the news from Entertainment WeeklySFSignalBob Greenberger, Mark Evanier, John Kenneth Muir and my cousin Danny Barer.

8 thoughts on “Goodbye, Starlog”

  1. Thanks for the memories (and for the link to my blog post). As a longtime Starlog reader, naturally I read many, many of your articles. Of course, I was unaware that you were Chrissie Hynde’s boy toy. 🙂

  2. I’m also devastated by the loss of Starlog. I still remember being captivated by it as a young boy in the late 1970s. In 1996, I was published nationally for the first time in its pages, and spent more than a decade contributing to it. They never flew me to London to cover a James Bond picture, but they did fly me from Ohio to Los Angeles to interview one of my writing inspirations, Glen A. Larson, on the set of his syndicated series NIGHTMAN. (I was still thrilled by the experience.) Of course, they already had many correspondents in L.A., but it demonstrated the generosity of editor David McDonnell. I’ll forever be indebted to him and to Starlog.

  3. Good god, I was an avid reader of Starlog in the early eighties and I think I remember that article you wrote.
    These days weblogs like Slashfilm and CHUD have daily news and almost as much insider access as Starlog did back in the day, and reading them is free.
    So while it’s sad to see the magazine go, it’s understandable.

  4. Sad news indeed. I don’t know what the circulation numbers were but I know at one time they were doing quite well indeed. I have been surprised at the number of people who ask me if I’m the guy that wrote this article or that one for stuff done about 30 years ago. I have every issue since #1 saved away, and some happy memories of the interviews I did for them. I started doing more books instead of magazine work but always kept thinking I should go back and pitch just one more to Dave. As my wife just said, I waited a bit too long. I just thought they would be there…

  5. This is such sad news. I wrote for STARLOG (and FANGORIA) for many years. Recently, I had to take some time off to finish rewriting my book “Keep Watching the Skies,” then had another in a series of medical problems. I was planning this month to send a note to Dave McDonnell assuring him I was rarin’ to go once again.
    Like Lee, I intervewed lots of people through writing for STARLOG–Patrick Stewart, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Frank Darabont, Keye Luke, Schwarzenegger, Laura Linney, Rod Steiger–many, many people; I should try to make a complete list sometime. I interviewed many of those Lee had talked to earlier. And I too collected some of these interviews into a book, “Set Visits.”
    I was sent on many trips for STARLOG and FANGORIA–Arizona, Ohio, the Rocky Mountains, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Vancouver BC, Texas, Honolulu.
    It’s hard to believe the magazine won’t still be found on newsstands around the world.

  6. Bill Cotter and I first wrote for STARLOG in 1980. The topic was the TV series “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”. Our interview with Irwin Allen in his two-story Warner Bros. office is one of our favorite (and most comic) memories. That lead to fifteen years of articles and meeting many of the names in front of and behind camera that we’d only seen in credits.
    I also remember hosting the only west-coast STARLOG writers get-together at my home back in the early 80’s.
    Dave McDonnell was our editor the entire time and a true gentleman and enthusiast.
    My final article for the print version was on TEAM AMERICA in 2004. Hopefully the on-line version will live long and prosper.
    Mike Clark

  7. I wish Starlog had survived. I’ve been a fan of it since it’s first issue in 1975. Has it been that long?
    Starlog was part of my youth and will never be forgotten.
    I sent the editor Dave McDonnell a letter (in the 1990’s)with some of my cartoons and asked him why the Star Trek Magazine series of magazines was coming to an end. He wrote me a 3 page letter on legal paper as to why the magazines had folded. I never expected a reply. How could he with all the millions of fans who read the magazine? I was impressed that he did care about his fans and that he took the trouble to write to me.
    I eventually went on to write and create Star Trek cartoons for a publication called,”The Trekker”. It has long stopped publication. However,it was McDonnell’s letter that motivaed me to keep going until I got published in a professional magazine.


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