Last autumn, I visited the set of J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek film. Well, “visited” may not be the right word. I hid behind a crate of hamdingers until I could sucker punch an extra and steal his clothes. The trousers fit perfectly, though the spy-proof white robe squeezed around the chest. In a move I learned from Solid Snake, I put a wig on the extra’s unconscious body and hoped a security guard would simply mistake him for Margot Kidder.
I’ve been a fan of Abrams’ for many years now. I remember curling up on the couch on a warm Wednesday night, my bowl of Cherry Garcia lit only by the dancing frog on television as I watched the latest promo for Felicity. It was as if J.J. were talking just to me. As was as surprised as anyone to find out I’d always wanted to watch a show about a bush-topped stalker in oversized sweaters. Plus, I related to Felicity, since she was a virgin, and I’d had sex with several.
Abrams followed his success on the WB by launching Alias on an honest-to-Christ network, and I was right behind him. Week after week, J.J. proved that a girl doesn’t have to not have sex and whine into a tape recorder to be interesting. She can also slap spies with car antennae and fuck her costars. Could television get any better?
Answer: Yes! But not in the hands of J.J. Abrams, unfortunately, because Lost is a terrible show. Unless, of course, your idea of an endearing character trait is the ability to crack wise with a truly Paula Dean level of Southern fried sass. Y’all.
But TV mediocrity wasn’t enough to keep my J.J. down! M.I.:III:MIIIMM::MII proved that America doesn’t care how many couches Tom Cruise jumps on or whether he can decapitate Dougray Scott with a motorcycle. We just want to see the star of Far and Away cross-dressing as a gay priest and wearing Philip Seymour Hoffman’s face. Sure, the movie didn’t leave a Sherman’s march trail of destruction through the box office, but how many kids did you see staring up at you through the eyeholes of a plastic Philip Seymour Hoffman mask last Halloween?
Paramount made the right move in prying the Star Trek reigns from Rick Berman’s cocaine-addled corpse and flinging them over to Abrams. We haven’t had a decent Trek since Ricardo Montalban could walk.
What? First Contact, you say? It was okay, I guess. This may be a nitpick, but in the scene where Alfre Woodard tells Jean-Luc to blow up the damn ship, I couldn’t help but notice that I’d already left the theater and was enjoying a nice day doing anything other than watching First Contact.
Anyway, I’d snapped the guard’s neck and pulled myself into a plywood Jeffries tube. This thing ran the whole length of the Star Trek set. At first it seemed like an admirable attention to detail on the part of the production designer, but I later found out it was simply the newest addition of an elaborate nation-wide tunnel system dug by Kerri Russel. She offered me a freshly killed prairie dog, but I turned it down. I had to focus on my work. I punched through a grate, suffocated a curious guard with a red shirt I found lying around, and made my way to the bridge. I tried my best to blend in as an actual extra by pretending I’d had a lobotomy and bitching about everything.
So, the moment you’ve been waiting for. What was the bridge like? Was it totally new? Did it keep that retro feel? Was there a persistent pinging noise in the background? Did I catch a glimpse of Greg Grunberg?
Look, I’d love to answer all those questions. I’d love to tell you who I slept with—young Spock or old. But as part of my deep cover, I was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I think I can safely share one little anecdote, though. One night, Leonard Nimoy rolled over in bed and ran a finger down my chest. “You know,” he said, “I think J.J.’s found a way to let Bill Shatner in on the new movie.”
“Really?” I asked.
“No. Of course not! Ha ha ha ha!”
Oh, how I miss that laugh.