Thanks for the Memories

Starlog67cover  I put myself through UCLA writing for the The Daily Bruin (along with future X-FILES producer Frank Spotnitz) and freelancing for local and national publications. I also ended up writing a few sleazy novels under the pen name "Ian Ludlow," but that's another story.

What got me thinking back to those days was a blog post by John Zipperer , reviewing the February 1983 issue of Starlog, which was a milestone for me because it included my interview with Star Trek II screenwriter Jack Sowards — and my first sale to Starlog Magazine. I would end up writing hundreds of articles for Starlog (maybe it was less, but it sure felt like hundreds!) over the years that followed, but I can still remember how thrilling it was for me to get that acceptance letter from Dave McDonnell who, as it happened, was just starting what would be end up being a nearly thirty year career as managing editor of the magazine. 

It wasn't just a way to put myself through school…it was my real education. What I learned from all the screenwriters, directors,  network executives, producers, studio heads and actors that I interviewed for Starlog, Newsweek, American Film, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications shaped the career I have today. They taught me what I know. 

I am still amazed at all the people I got interview…like George Lucas, William Friedkin, Richard Donner, Lorenzo Semple Jr., Robert Zemeckis, Richard Maibaum, Wes Craven, Peter Hyams, Stephen J. Cannell, Steven Bochco, Richard Marquand, Glen Larson, Tom Cruise, Roger Moore, Roy Huggins, Johnny Depp, Fred Silverman, John Lithgow, Brandon Tartikoff, Grant Tinker, Bud Grant, Norman Lear, Martin Landau, Gene Roddenberry, Kurt Russell, John Korty, Paul Verhoeven, Harlan Ellison, Irvin Kershner, Dan Curtis, Wolfgang Petersen, William Shatner, Timothy Hutton, Roy Scheider, Michael J. Fox, Roger Corman, Ray Bradbury, Darren McGavin, Chevy Chase, John Carpenter, W.D. Richter, Raquel Welch, to name just a few (some of whom, like Cannell, Silverman, Huggins, Larson, Corman, Hutton and Scheider, I would later end up working with as a writer/producer. Only two of them, Cannell and Huggins, remembered that we'd met years before when I was a reporter, but that's because I interviewed them multiple times). 

And I knew how lucky I was even as it was happening. I still have many of audio cassettes from those interviews. One of these days I should get around to digitizing them before they erode away forever…

7 thoughts on “Thanks for the Memories”

  1. Digitize early, digitize often. I recently found cassette interviews with members of The Kingsmen, Sonics, The Wailers, and the Frantics — legendary N.W. bands whose influence on the Beatles was often acknowledged by George Harrison. Yes, dusty old tapes in a long forgotten briefcase stuck away on a shelf in Mill Creek, Washington. I also found the only known (so far) remaining copy of The Floating Bridge live at Eagles Auditorium. The tape was so old and thin that it stretched and broke on first attempted playing. I’m gluing it back together and uploading it to the Internet. You are holding history on those tapes, Lee. Don’t allow them to disintegrate.

  2. Thanks for the interesting post.
    I learn far more from writing my blog and interacting with people online than I do from studying a Masters degree in writing. I’ll gladly have the Masters behind me soon so I’ll have more time to get some real work and learning done. 🙂

  3. You totally should archive/digitize those tapes! I have fond memories of reading your coverage of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (esp. your interview with Kurt Russell) and your two-part interview with Harlan Ellison (“Call me a science fiction writer and I’ll tear out your liver!”) was classic, esp. when he slammed BACK TO THE FUTURE. I remember reading the hate mail for issues afterwards. heh!

  4. Wow–again! Great names, tremendous talent. There’s your franchise, Lee: “the fast life and exciting times of LA writers who work on a great TV industry magazine, some of whom climb all the way to the top of the network ladder!”
    (I get to pitch stories for the first season!)


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