April 14th, 2005|
Actress BarBara Luna Calls Star Trek Review 'Trash' (Click here to read the review and my letter to the editor).
Dear friends and fans:
Furthermore, does she even know what Star Trek represents and what being there really means to these loyal, devoted fans who are so willing to spend their hard-earned dollars for a desired autograph(s)? How dare she minimize the caliber of actors and actresses that have performed not only on Star Trek, but have guest-starred in hundreds of television shows, countless motion pictures and Broadway musicals. Actors who have paved the way for our stars of today by fighting battles that had to be fought in the 1960s with studio producers and executive heads. Fighting for our rights that were won on so many levels!: "Why does that role have to be portrayed by a white actor?" "Why do I have to feign a Mexican accent?" "Why does she have to be beautiful?" "Why can't she/he have a crooked tooth?" Forgive me if I sound as though I lack humility, I'm just trying to set the record straight for those folks who lack perspective as to why we continue to enjoy exchanging ideas with these adoring fans throughout the world who have stood by us after all these years.. We are the sixties kids who are the unsung heroes of show business, and we'll continue to sing on! NOT two-bit players, NOT has-beens, NOT cling-ons, which incidentally, are terms never used by the fans.
Due to Ms. Reitman's naiveté, this concept may be too difficult for her to grasp. True, many guest stars, including myself, did not appear at Pasadena this year due to work conflicts. Had there been, perhaps she might have had more insight. Michael Dante may not have been a household name but he was certainly not a bit player!
Arlene Martel has a resumé as long as Wilt Chamberlain's arm and we all know what a reach he had!
Obviously Ms. Reitman did not do any homework for this assignment. In light of the possibility, perhaps she would like another chance to go "where she has never gone before". Maybe Richard Arnold, our Trek expert, would give her a crash course... if he's interested.
I write this to you on behalf of Lt. Marlena Moreau & myself, BarBara Luna, who proudly guest starred in the classic episode, "Mirror Mirror".
To Star Trek fans everywhere: We would like to set Ms. Reitman straight on the Star Trek phenomenon and on fandom in general. She obviously does not understand that the actors who appear at these conventions are our unsung heroes, particularly ethnic actors who had to fight with their own agents just to get submitted for roles they were right for. George Takei and Nichelle Nichols, for example. These actors continue to inspire fellow actors and also the people who identify with their ethnicity and the road they paved. More importantly, what Ms. Reitman failed to recognize is how the fans admire the human side of these actors.
The below emails are from fans and celebrities in response to Valerie Reitman's (Email email@example.com) recent write-up in the LA Times regarding Creation's annual Pasadena Star Trek convention.
I was taken aback by that article and I think that the reporter is sneering at us. Why I don't know, but to reveal what we are doing to sustain a career, if only in our own minds, is cruel and unjust. She has no idea what went into those lives or how they came about.
I thought it was totally denigrating to all the actors that are involved in these conventions. It was a nasty, snide diatribe. The material on Dante and Arlene made them look like fools. I've never read anything like that where the writer seems to be poking fun or worse at her subject.
I always laugh when I hear people who should know better refer to actors who were guest stars, as 'bit players". Anyway, this article is meant to sound as though the writer is divulging some big secret life of actors. Clearly, she is presenting it in a very poor light, but whatever. So, Creation makes 6 million a year, huh? I need to raise my actors' prices!
I didn't like the article. It made Arlene Martel, Michael Dante and all the people who do the Creation show look foolish.
It appears that Valerie Reitman, the Times Staff Writer, is not in possession of a vital ingredient needed for being a writer, that ingredient being talent. She attempts to cover for this lack of talent by taking the easy way out, which is taking pock shots at people. It is so easy to be mean. I guess her minuscule brain couldn't come up with anything interesting, so she has to resort to shock value. She shouldn't criticize how someone else makes money unless she is willing to pay their bills for them. I'm sure that William Shatner isn't clubbing people over the heads and stealing their wallets. Nobody is going to pay $60 unless they want to, and what people choose to do with their own money is their own business. Think of how many people waste their money on that rag of a publication called "The Times". Maybe somebody should write an article about that. With all of the evil doings in this world we live in, this Valerie Reitman has to pick on convention participants. I guess all of the good topics were already taken.
The article is pretty bitchy and shabbily written on top of it. I bet the Times will hear from a few people. If you're at all in touch with them, send love and greetings to Martel & Dante, etc. We all think it was a very lousy shot and on front page?????? what - as a change of pace from the hysterical news of the last while ????? Ugh.
Unfortunately, for every 5 good news articles about conventions, actors and fans, there is always a slanted one. And they typically come out of a "Creation Super Convention", not the smaller independent shows. This is one of the reasons smaller companies cannot survive. They have the stigma of bad press before they open the show doors. Because the general public remembers the "bad or slanted" review more then the great ones. That's not to say that smaller venues are not reviewed in a negative light. I remember an article written after one of our shows, it's headline read "STAR TREK FANATICS COME TO BLAH BLAH", it then too went on to speak of the celebrity guests and fans in a negative light. But out of my five guests, only two were from Star Trek the other three were from various sitcoms and never had anything to do with Trek. Plus, the show was never "billed" as a Star Trek Convention. It makes you wonder how the media, a group that is supposed to be unbiased, can be so spiteful to certain groups. You never read articles like these about sports autograph events. The athletes can charge 5 times what actors charge and there is never bad press.
A very interesting article, although it doesn't paint a very flattering picture of us does it?
As best that I could get from the article, you have a writer with envy that past Star Trek guests still have a huge fan following who would actually pay a guest star for their autograph. This writer basically is heckling people that would stand in line to get an autograph from an actor or actress that maybe had only a one bit part in one episode of Star Trek or even other shows such as Xena, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars etc. Apparently this writer had nothing better to do than criticize the actors for going to conventions and selling autographs and she apparently couldn't figure out why we fans like to see you guys, get a photo with you and an autograph. Too bad she didn't interview me. I would have given her the old what for.
I thought this article was a bit mean-spirited and condescending. Hate that she calls everyone "bit actors" when most were lead, top of the show guest stars.
I thought it wasn't a terrible article, and it certainly did not portray any of us in a heroic light. Rather condescending if anything. And she evidently has not done her homework regarding the history of conventions, thinking that autographs only recently became marketable, and that we learned this from the sports world.
Dear Ms. Reitman: A friend forwarded me the article you wrote about the actors who appeared at that Star Trek convention. I thought it was cruel and unnecessary to mock their careers and to take what they had told you in good faith and twist it around to make them sound pathetic in the article. You obviously never bothered to actually watch the work of both Michael Dante and Arlene Martel in that you called them "bit players." The term implies that they were on-screen for all of 10 seconds, when they actually played the leading guest roles in their respective episodes. I'm not a fan of "Star Trek" myself, but even I know that both of these people were actors with long and prolific careers. Even if they didn't become major stars, they at least had the guts and nerve to pursue careers in an industry that is often difficult to break into. You implied that, because these actors were not major stars, that their careers and lives had no value or worth. I'm surprised the LA Times would devote paragraphs to such a pointless article. Well, with all due respect, I read newspapers all the time, but I've never heard of you. You're obviously not a prestigious or well-known journalist on the level of Woodward and Bernstein. Does that mean that your journalistic career is worthless? Years from now, when your career as a journalist is over and you're regaling someone with anecdotes of your achievements, I hope that the person listening to you treats you with more respect than the way you treated those actors in that article.
After reading the article, my main thought is "Ouch!!" She's very condescending!! I'd be interested to know how old she is. Perhaps it could be the arrogance of youth. In my opinion, the "paper guests" are the best part of the conventions. Sure, you can see the big names like Shatner or Stewart, but you won't get to know them unless you're running the convention. It's a service to the fans to have guests that are available all day to chat with the fans. If in return the actor is able to make a living, what's wrong with that? Let's consider Ms. Reitman now. She's a columnist. Compared to "real" writers, she's a "bit player". Does she have bestsellers? Is her column syndicated so that she's known outside of her own paper? Or is she just a working writer earning a living? I wonder if anyone will want her autograph in 30 years?
From a fan's pov, my immediate reaction to the article was the poor attempt at humor of the "cling on" phrase. It seemed to infer that the supporting actors on ST were barely incidental, that those guesting at the con didn't have any other credits to which to lay claim. How terribly inaccurate and certainly rude, to say the least. Put me at the head of the line to punch out that reporter!!
Thank you for fighting back! The article was a cheap shot and demeaning to Michael and Arlene. The LA Times should apologize!
You can quote me to the sky. The article in the LA times re: "bit players" etc is idiotic, written by someone who hasn't the least notion of journalistic ethics or even basic standards of research. We actors are a great set of humanity, the world, in truth, would suffer without us.
Thank you for fighting back! The article was a cheap shot and demeaning to Michael and Arlene. The LA Times should apologize!
I'm glad you chose to respond to this review and state your side of it. I feel you made some excellent points about "Star Trek", the 60's, acting in film and TV, etc. I'm extremely leery of writers who trash people in show business, and put a negative spin on things like Star Trek conventions. I admire people like you and Carol Burnett who fight back when subjected to negative, unfair treatment from the press. Good for you!
I loved your letter. That's why I wrote to that woman. I doubt she'll even write to me because she probably doesn't consider it important enough to address. It's just too bad that the people who I thought were assholes in Hollywood don't get written about this way, but the nicer ones do. Maybe the assholes are better at being cagey all the time?
Very well said and it is very sad that most of the journalists get negative impressions during very short visits to conventions. If the truth be known, then the reporters would write about actors who worked hard to hone their craft and proudly provide that rare opportunity to interact with fans and fellow artists. Why these reporters never cover the tireless efforts of these actors when they raise and participate in many charity events seems a mystery to me. I know first hand after personally covering and reporting over 100 events and conventions nationwide; is a unique and positive experience for fans, actors and guests. If not for these conventions, some of the television shows would not continue to provide those great ratings, viewership, as well as paychecks for “television executives”. May all these events continue and may fellow actors proudly continue to steadily promote their artistic craft. Ms. Reitman, you are wound “way too tight”. Next time do your homework. Attend a convention for a day and let yourself go!!!!
Hi Luna, I enjoyed your response along with the others. I hope you and the fans can persuade Oprah to do a special show. I think it would help the awareness of life.
Speaking as one whose career includes the news media, namely local radio and TV and both on-air and behind-the-scenes, I can tell you that there does exist an arrogance and contempt, in many circles, toward sci-fi, in general, and toward Star Trek, in particular. I have heard comments from both a TV anchor and DJ that indicate the "Get A Life!" mentality. I strongly urge both fans and actors to be very careful when dealing with the media, be it print or broadcast, whenever they cover conventions. For example, one of my friends has a practice of discretely listening in on reporters and camera operators at cons when they're not taping. If their conversation about the event is positive, she'll talk to them, if it's snide and demeaning, she'll not only refuse to talk to them, but she will also warn fans to keep away from them. Again, be very shrewd when it comes to the press. My two cents worth.
Don't know why they were determined to slam Arlene M. and Michael Dante--seemed kinda mean and pointless. (*I think Tanya charmed them out of an attack on her, as she was portrayed as hip.) From our magazine's perspective, I can tell you our readers know and love you guys. The fact that the '60s TREK DVDs are selling like hotcakes makes it clear that a guest shot on the original series is as big as a feature credit, especially if, like you and Arlene, you're in episodes that top 'Best of's over 37 years later.
Dear Luna: Excellent response and the comments included really say a lot. That writer would never understand how we fans feel about all of you actors and actresses who worked untold hours to provide great entertainment for all fans of Star Trek and loyal fans of sci-fi in general. Sorry some BIT writer had to get your blood boiling..use that newspaper article to line the bottom of the bird cage.
I read through the mean spirited article written by the talentless writer who obviously had an agenda when the person wrote the article. Your responses were right on target and I think most people will see through the nastiness of the article. I'm glad you responded. Trust me, most of us in the newspaper business don't take that kind of tact when writing up feature articles on conventions or celebrities. This person really had a nasty chip on their shoulder. My best to you as always!
Thanks for those updates. It is too bad how Arlene and Michael were made to look so badly. If I worked for the LA Times, I'd surely have written something much nicer!
I thought the article was unfair and a bit superficial. The Star Trek series was one of the best ever, and it is to the credit of the many Star Trek fans for keeping the show alive and preserving a real art form for everyone.
Dear Luna and group members,
Yes, I'm a total fan and supporter of Luna, her efforts, and her philosophies. Most of the time, I agree with the consensus of the group, or I would not remain a part of it, so I merely lurk and keep track. Now that she, you, have solicited a specific input concerning this recent newspaper article which seems to display a certain general absence of comprehension of the performing arts and its artists and their mindset, not to mention their collective motivation, let me read it again with an eye aimed at finding elements that confirm this conclusion.
To begin, Ms. Reitman seems to have started by singling out one actor whose work has apparently never crossed her straight and narrow path. (I won't indicate which of those adjectives apply more stringently to her view of the world.) Given that starting point, the article implies the enormous surprise that if *she* has never heard of him, how in the world could anyone else have done? From that deduction, (obviously flawed, since she sounded shocked that he would have such a line of admirers who *have* heard of him, including my humble self) why would so many people, or even one, be so eager and willing to meet Mr. Dante in keeping with the stated and implied conditions of the convention, which must have been the latest Grand Slam con since it's now Spring and she mentioned Pasadena. (I've never met this columnist; is she that same Little Old Lady of the sixties song?) Indeed, we infer from her tone, why would someone stage the event at all?
The article continues, all following the same straight and narrow path, as if trying to explain the color red (not talking about red-shirts, mind you) to someone who was born blind. She cites a couple of additional examples of actors, and yes, actresses, as Luna justly uses the term, to extrapolate to the general and elicit from her readers that this event should be considered by those others who also follow that straight and narrow path that this entire mentality is something of an aberration in society, and that fandom in general is something known of but not discussed in polite circles. Were the article to be something tangible like cloth, the skepticism could be wrung out of it like dripping fat from a cooking steak. (The simile is a tribute to our beloved starship engineer, Scottie, who holds a warm place in all our hearts, but maybe not hers?)
She seems genuinely at a loss to understand why anyone would pay money to obtain such a fleeting piece of memorabilia, starting with autographs that have any connection to a fictional character that these aberrants hold dear. Notwithstanding that there are those who willingly pay many times that amount for such memorabilia representing other ethereal celebrities like Liberace or Elvis Presley. Yes, we assume the "real" Elvis. Since the mentality of any of this activity is driven by the personal desire of the purchaser, why then should one's personal desire be cheered and another's be condemned? Are we not granted equal status by our mutually agreed upon Constitution?
Every attendee at this event, and hundreds of others like it in the world, chooses to attend, and chooses to accept the conditions of attendance. The personal pleasure of meeting these actresses, and actors, and writers and prop creators, and anyone else connected with the finished form of entertainment that we enjoy, this is all what we are willing to pay for, and we do. Ms. Reitman's use of the term "Trekkie Convention" in itself reveals her view as, need I say again, Straight And Narrow, since for years these events have been welcoming hosts to any actor or actress from any venue of artistic entertainment, not limited to Star Trek. I personally perceive a disdaining connotation to the term "Trekkie", and I never use it myself.
I move on to find that Ms. Reitman notes a hierarchy of status of actors (I use that word collectively, not to diminish actresses) which in my mind stems mostly from their roles more than from any intrinsic value of the persons. The stories, whether in print or on screen, centralize on the "hero" and the "villain", and the varying degrees of supporting parts fall where they may, and the actors who portray them seem to follow these places. The actors who did portray the central roles are popular and sought due to their roles; but one central premise that Ms. Reitman would do well to grasp is that any epic story, any portrayal of character, any philosophy propounded by a writer, carries meaning to the recipient, and most science fiction, especially those stories good enough to have reached the public's attention, get remembered and absorbed by the world's best and brightest. Witness the timeless and universal acceptance of the trilogy "Lord of the Rings". Enough people correctly assumed that this story was worth all the money and effort it took to create the visual masterpiece that finally reached the world's eye, and the philosophy of Star Trek and all the other works created and portrayed have this quality. So strongly does this quality hold us that we are willing and eager to find and embrace any connections to them that we can reach? Thus the actors and other artists find their place, and we welcome them. Ms. Reitman found time to chat with one lovely actress I have met only once, Arlene Martel -- did she not grasp anything that Ms. Martel was trying to convey to her?
The article seems to end not by reaching any conclusion, but merely by dint of its limitation of column space. My take on it all is that someone, I assume her editor, needed that space filled with something, and drew a number out of a hat and it was hers. The relation of the article to its writer makes me think of a person trying to wash a car with a bucket of pure clean water but using a block of wood rather than a real sponge -- how much the wood block absorbed strikes me as a good comparison to what Ms. Reitman absorbed from her experience. No doubt Ms. Reitman and her editor fit the needs of their readers, at least in general, but if the purpose of a newspaper is to inform, then perhaps in this instance the writer might benefit by becoming informed before she tries to accomplish that purpose with us.
When I perused through the commentary of fans responding to the "article", I found that their collective opinion was that the article and its author made the actors look "foolish". May I say here, Au Contraire, mon ami!! At the risk of sounding biased, it was the author, not the actors, who came off sounding foolish, and I'll go so far as saying, rightly so.
I think it would be a fascinating topic for a show like Oprah's. I have heard people say, "Don't these people have some life other than appearing at Conventions?" Sad to say, some may not. Sure as heck don't get any residuals off of what they did thirty/forty years ago; stuff that's playing for our pleasure over and over again on TVLand, SciFi, WGN and other networks/stations. My thoughts on the matter after meeting people at conventions (been to some in Salt Lake City, Knoxville and Orlando) is that "so what if they are?" These people have earned the respect due them. It doesn't matter if it was guesting or if it was a billed steady role, acting is a profession and a darned hard one, from what I have been told by some in the business.
I have received a great deal of pleasure out of the performances of many people over the years and I find that conventions are the way I can show a bit of that appreciation. I don't often have enough money to pay 20 dollars to everyone I meet to show my thanks (as well as get an autographed picture for my collection), but I usually try to give something to show how much that person's performance meant to me, a jar of jelly, a handshake, whatever I can). If I was entertained or affected by an actor's performance back in the sixties and seventies,(and there are too many to mention here), then they have done a job that is meaningful and something to be proud of. The article by Reitman seemed to demean that, at least in my opinion. And seemed to demean me, too, as a fan. Yes, there are reprehensible fan behaviors just as there are reprehensible actor behaviors, but seems I remember there are reprehensible journalist behaviors, too. What does that say? We're human.
Thanks for the forum to speak my peace.
Dear Ms. Luna,
A dear friend recently emailed me the article concerning Star Trek conventions and similar events. I was appalled, finding the piece denigrating not only to the great actors, but to the fans as well. For six years I have been involved with the Festival Of The West, both as consumer and volunteer working behind the scenes. I am always incredibly amazed and impressed at the generosity of the stars, along with their willingness to share with their many fans who come from around the globe for the memorable experience of meeting their heroes. And on one point I must disagree with your idea for an "Oprah" show - our heroes NEVER have been, and NEVER will be "Forgotten". The person who threw together that article, Valerie "Wrong"man, is so blatantly ignorant of these events, the stars, and the fans as to be nearly unworthy of comment - except perhaps to suggest to the "L.A. Times" that they hire intelligent, professional reporters; RIGHTers, not WRONGers. The perpetrator of that farce could not even bother with research enough to discover that the Festival Of The West is a four-day event, not five.
Thank you for your attention, for hearing out my tirade, and for bringing this to light.