A Conversation with Star Trek's Terry Matalas
The executive producer, showrunner and writer/director joined Melody Maia Monet and Dawn Ennis for what Worf would call a "threesome" about the making of season three, the finale and the future.
Thanks for rising up with me this Thursday, April 27, 2023! Especially because I am finally able to share my conversation with the man who led the team that brought Star Trek’s “Next Generation” back together for one more thrilling adventure! As you’ll see, my BFF Melody Maia Monet joined us.
First: All is well, and I’m sorry that I’ve been absent since Sunday night. As the saying goes, “Life is what happens when you make other plans!”
And those plans included my intention to release, far sooner than this morning, my conversation with Terry Matalas and my interview with Liz Kloczkowski, the woman who brought the Enterprise-D bridge back to life!
Scroll down, and you’ll see it was well worth the wait.
Next: A note about history: This week in 1916, Irish nationalists launched the Easter Rising, their unsuccessful first bid for independence from Great Britain, but an important step that ultimately led to the formation of the Republic of Ireland and the partitioning of Northern Ireland.
Milestones: The Boston Celtics selected Chuck Cooper in 1950’s NBA draft, breaking basketball’s color barrier and making Cooper the league’s first African American player.
A leader of the Soviet Union wrote a letter to a fifth grader in Maine 40 years ago this week, an important gesture during the Cold War that led to hopes for peace between our nations, something all but forgotten in the current climate. Samantha Smith died in a plane crash in 1985 at the age of 13.
And the Hubble Space Telescope reached Earth orbit this week in 1990.
Here endeth the history lesson, and thus beginneth your headlines! Please note that I spell out what other more polite journalists call “the c-word.”
Here Now the News
TUCKER CARLSON BREAKS HIS SILENCE, CALLS ENEMIES “HYSTERICAL:”
CARLSON’S VULGAR, OFFENSIVE MESSAGES SEALED HIS FATE: The Wall Street Journal reports the former Fox News host called a woman who is a senior executive a cunt. Company lawyers convinced a judge to have the slur redacted, and told him the good news, thinking it would make Carlson happy. To their surprise, he was not impressed, reports the WSJ: “He told his colleagues that he wanted the world to know what he had said about the executive.” What a moron. Yeah, buhbye, Tucker.
PARKER MOLLOY’S PREDICTION ON WHAT CARLSON WILL DO NEXT: The Present Age Substack.
HOUSE GOP PASSES DEBT LIMIT BILL, DOA IN SENATE: New York Times
CONSERVATIVE PERSPECTIVE: This is a win! If the government defaults, it’s on the Democrats and Biden —WSJ
WHO ARE THE FOUR REPUBLICANS WHO VOTED “NO?” Fox News
“DONALD TRUMP RAPED ME:” E. Jean Carroll, the woman who is suing the former president for battery and defamation, took the stand in a New York City courthouse Wednesday. —CNN
JUST ONE DAY INTO THE TRIAL AND TRUMP ALREADY BROKE JUDGE’S RULE: Newsweek
DISNEY SUES DeSANTIS: Their bitter feud with Florida’s Republican governor is going to court, with lawyers for The Mouse accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis of waging a “targeted campaign of retaliation.” — Associated Press
ANOTHER U.S. BANK IN CRISIS: Washington Post
16,000 AMERICANS ARE STRUGGLING TO FLEE SUDAN: Washington Post
WHY WERE THEY LEFT BEHIND WHEN DIPLOMATS EVACUATED? —A.P.
CHINA PLEDGES NEUTRALITY IN UKRAINE WAR, SENDS PEACE DELEGATION: The Guardian
JUDGE IN MISSOURI SLAMS THE BRAKES ON GENDER AFFIRMING CARE BAN: A.P.
TEXAS COULD BE THE NEXT STATE TO BAN TRANS HEALTHCARE FOR ADULTS: Erin Reed’s Erin in the Morning Substack
SPEAKING OUT: GLAAD and the LGBTQ Victory Institute issued a joint statement, which GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis tweeted: “The silencing and censure against Rep. [Zooey] Zephyr for speaking up in support of transgender Montanans is an attack on our nation's democratic ideals and free speech values.” Read the full statement in a thread on Twitter by clicking here.
NCAA CHAMPION SWIMMER LIA THOMAS CALLS OUT TRANSPHOBIA: The Daily Beast
MARTINA, WHO BLOCKED ME FOR CALLING HER A TRANSPHOBE, RESPONDED TO LIA THOMAS ON TWITTER:
AARON RODGERS TALKS ABOUT FUTURE WITH THE JETS: YES Network
Star Trek Corner
AND AT LONG LAST, HERE IT IS: Our friend Terry Matalas joined Melody Maia Monet and me via Zoom, following our review of the Star Trek Picard Finale, Part Ten, titled, “The Last Generation.” Our conversation was recorded on Tuesday, April 18, and it runs one hour, 17 minutes and one second. That’s right: 01:17:01! And note, he answers questions from fans, in addition to ours!
REBUILDING THE BRIDGE: Liz Kloczkowski, the art director on Star Trek Picard, (A prior version of this post incorrectly identified Liz as “assistant art director,” and I regret the error). She agreed to answer questions via email.
DAWN ENNIS: What’s your hometown?
LIZ KLOCZKOWSKI: Uxbridge, Mass. I went to school in Whitinsville, Mass., and I wanted to be a writer/journalist.
DE: How did you get to this position in your career? Is it a male-dominated field, and if so, how did you break through?
LK: In my second year of journalism school at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., I realized it wasn't for me. I was recruited to the film school by Korean Director of Photography Changhee Chun, and went on to major in Cinema and Photography, concentrating in Cinema Production. I focused most of my time on Production Design. Ithaca College does a "Los Angeles" abroad program, where they set students up with internships their senior year.
Not long after, I was lucky to work as an assistant art director on a movie, Under The Silver Lake, which flipped union and got me my union days. I have been very fortunate to work for very feminist production designers [Michael Perry of Under the Silver Lake and Promising Young Woman] and Joe Cabrera [Liberty Mutual, NFL Now, Bud Light TV commercials], and Danny Cistone [Black Jesus, Walk the Prank]
DE: What it is your job was on the Star Trek Picard show? Feel free to name as many names as you wish and their roles.
LK: On Star Trek Picard Season 3, I was one of 3 art directors on the show working under production designer Dave Blass, and supervising art director Mark Zuelzke. Will Eliscu [Titan Bridge, Observation Lounge, Brig, Shrike Bridge] and Kit Stolen [Daystrom Institute, District 6, Borg Cube]. I was honored to work on the Eleos XII, Titan Sickbay, Crew Quarters, Transporter Room, Nacelle Room, EPS Room, Environmental Systems Control Room, Shrike Jail Cell, and the Enterprise D.
DE: What was it like working with legends like Doug Drexler, Mike Okuda and others?
LK: The first time Mike Okuda messaged me and said "can I call you to explain my experience of LCAR color design,” I might have panicked, as a fan of his work. It was such a pleasure to work with him to recreate his graphics as they were seen on camera. i was spoiled the rest of the way with the graphic design on the Enterprise D — he did them the first time, so it was like having a consultant and a graphic designer built into one. Plus, his anecdotes are amazing.
DE: I heard Doug say on a podcast he dug up the old Bridge blueprints from his garage. Was that instrumental?
LK: With the help of John Van Citters [Star Trek Archives], I had pulled the blueprints that the archives had for the Enterprise D. There was also a compilation of drawings on the hard drive and there are bunch of the drawings scanned online. Doug had most of what I had, plus a bunch of missing pages.
All in all, we probably had about 40% of what was drawn. We had a TNG Season 1 floorplan, a Season 1 horseshoe plan, and a ceiling plan which was so necessary. We also had some old drawings of the Conn/Ops consoles — we had to redraw these for the Season 7 version]. We also had a drawing of the captain's chair.
The rest of the details of the set [ceiling upgrades, replicators, walls, ramps, viewscreen, padded walls, doorways] were left to Kevin Cross, the set designer, to re-draw. Kyle Courter, set designer, ended up redrawing the revised version of the horseshoe, the Conn/Ops consoles and chairs, the captain's chair, and the turbolift.
DE: You also had a reference wall of photographs from the TNG show, tell me how that came about and how it helped?
LK: The master wall of research was mostly papering my office - when the crews started working on stage, our art department helped me move everything to boards and migrate them to the main stage.
LK: I also had some presentation boards already made, when pitching the extents of the builds to our producers. Those ones are up on the wall as well.
LK: I wanted everything we had to be easy for the working crews to reference. It made me so happy to see people consulting the research wall on their own time (usually it was when there were disagreements or if there was confusion about a particular element). The wall answered all. (Construction, Paint, Plaster, Drapery, Lighting, Playback, they all used it!) It also was super useful when the legacy team (Mike and Denise Okuda, Doug Blass, and Geoff Mandel) came to visit the early set — they were able to see paint colors, and describe to me what they remembered.
DE: Have you worked on any other shows in the Star Trek franchise?
LK: No, but I wish!
DE: Would you consider yourself a fan of Star Trek?
LK: YES! My favorite TOS episodes are "City on the Edge of Forever" and "Trouble with Tribbles.” From TNG: "Darmok," "Inner Light," "Tapestry," "Chain of Command" and "Measure of a Man." Don’t make me choose in TNG! From DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations" and "Far Beyond the Stars.” From Voyager [VOY]: "Relativity.” From Enterprise [ENT]: "In a Mirror Darkly" From Discovery [DISCO]: "The Vulcan Hello" and "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.” And from Strange New Worlds, or SNW: "A Quality of Mercy."
DE: If you're a member of the LGBTQ community or an ally, please let me know!
LK: I am an ally!
DE: What are you working on now?
LK: I am about 6 months in on the project "American Primeval" for Netflix.
DE: What is your take-away from working on Star Trek Picard?
LK: Recreating the Enterprise D is the highlight of my art direction career — it was such a pleasure and a fan treat to get to go there every day. No detail was too small. Dave Blass let me run wild with it — in fact, he encouraged the enthusiasm. The whole crew put their love, care, and best work into it. It was in Terry Matalas' excellent and capable hands — no one could have written and directed it better. He kept all of our favorite characters true, but he changed and aged them with time that passed. From a fan, to fans.
It is fan service, but in the best way possible — it's what we, as lovers of Trek, all needed. (closure). He and Jon Joffin [the director of photography) took us back to “Encounter at Farpoint” with visuals, but they took us back to many more episodes, all at once in our minds. He basically reinvisioned “All Good Things…,” for the better! It made thousands of grown people cry. (Yes, I'm one of them). To give everyone a glimpse of something they all remember, in HD, set NOW (not a memory) — what a gift!
DE: In episode nine, we saw Jonathan Frakes’ character Captain Will Riker eyeball the door to the head on the bridge, something never seen in a TNG episode or movie. Is it a one-person bathroom or multi-person?
LK: I would ask Mike Okuda or Jorg Hillebrand, I have no idea! We didn't build it. Andrew Proberts' early drawings had the head looking about twice the size of a turbolift. So, a spacious, one-person bathroom is my guess, but I could be wrong!
HOW TO VIEW THE ENTIRE SEASON OF STAR TREK PICARD AND PAST STAR TREK EPISODES: Click here to subscribe to Paramount+
That’s all for today. I will return Sunday night with the Bedtime Stories edition. Until then… May your news be good news!
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