Subj: A Personal Note
Date: 9/11/97 9:03:49 PM
Before moving on to answering your questions, allow me to indulge in a
I met Prince Charles last year at the London premiere of "First Contact." I
stood in the middle of a line of people to be presented to His Royal Highness
while my wife and other spouses and friends waited on the opposite side of
the room behind a velvet rope. There was a palpable electricity in the air,
as we all knew that this was a moment that few, if any, of us would ever
experience again. We were about to meet the heir to the throne, one of the
most famous men in the world, the bearer of a legacy stretching back over
centuries of history.
And yet, the name that hung over everything was Diana.
Charles and Diana. Chuck and Di. The names were so intertwined that we all
found it impossible to think of Him without Her. Her name floated through
the cloakroom where we cooled our heels before HRH was due to arrive. You'd
have thought we were all there to meet the Princess instead of the Prince.
We laughed and joked about the possibility that she was a closet Trekkie and
might pop in unexpectantly. We listened to the Brits among us spread the
latest royal gossip about the world's most famous divorce. And we jokingly
dared each other to ask Chuck how Di was doing.
When he stepped into the room and headed toward the receiving line, I was
struck by his ready smile, his confident manner as we all stared at him and
each awaited our own moment in the sun. And I thought about Her. This man
who would be king, was outshown even then by the woman who wasn't there. As
he made his way down the line toward me, I remember thinking back to his
wedding, to the woman with the dazzling smile in the glass carriage, to the
photos of him kissing his new bride on the balcony. And I wondered if this
happened everywhere he went. Did anyone see Charles anymore, or did they
always see her by his side?
My name was announced and he shook my hand with a smile. Asked me a few
questions. Lingered a bit. I can report that his hand is warm to the
touch and probably not filled with ice water, nor did I hear any audible
clicking or whirring of motors that would indicate a robotic interior. He
was a pleasant man. Rick later told me he was surprised at how long the
Prince paused to talk with me. I only remember that he seemed genuinely
interested in what I had to say. And that as he left, he got a funny look on
his face and said, "It must be nice to do something that you love so much."
In my memory, he says it with a slightly wistful look, but memory can play
tricks with you and perhaps it was just a smile after all.
He's a smart man. Too smart not to know who we were really thinking about.
Her. She was there as surely as if she'd walked in the room with him. He
knew. And he soldiered on, trying not to think about the fact that every man
and woman in that line knew about the most intimate details of his life, his
marriage, his infidelities, his polo accidents, his childhood, and his
He moved down the line, made small talk with everyone, then headed toward the
theater where it was announced to the crowd that Marina Sirtis would be
sitting next to His Royal Highness during the film. A loud chuckle went
through the audience as everyone's mind conjured up the image of the newly
single prince putting the move on the somewhat awed British actress. A funny
image. But even that light moment had Her name hovering over it. "He could
do it, you know. Now that he's not married to Diana." "Marina's beautiful,
but she's no Diana." "I wonder if they'd seat her next to him if Diana were
Subj: Personal Note (Cont'd)
Date: 9/11/97 9:03:51 PM
Last week, as I watched Charles collect the body of the woman he once loved
and cherished, I remembered that day at the theatre. A brief encounter with
an ordinary man born into extraordinary circumstances. An ordinary man whose
entire identity has now been subsumed by a legend. I mourn for Diana. I
cried at her funeral, and I think the world is a sadder place without her.
But my heart goes out to Charles. He'll never escape from Diana's shadow.
Even when she was alive, she seemed to walk next to him; now that she's
dead, she'll haunes, by the grace of God, of united England, Northern
Ireland, and the other possessions and territories, King... and ex-husband of
the late Diana Spencer."
They say Diana's life was a fairy tale with a tragic ending. Maybe they're
right. After all, we all remember Cinderella, and no one remembers her
Date: 9/11/97 10:16:53 PM
<<Ron, in "Yesterday's Enterprise" - Tasha Yar asked Guinan for a "TKL",
emergency rations. If "MRE" stands for "meals ready to eat", what the heck
did "TKL" stand for?>>
I don't know if it actually stood for anything or not. I didn't write that
section of dialog and no one around here seems to recall either.
<<I simply love Klingons but especially their kind of music. Is it possible
we will se some Klingon music in the near future? Klingon Opera for example
or maybe a klingon wedding ceremony (Dax/Worf)? I would love it! >>
You will hear more Klingon music this season and it will be heard in the
<<Is this really Gul Dukat's name? Do Cardassians name their children after
characters from human childrens' television shows? (Just in case you didn't
catch the header: Gul Elmo Dukat.)>>
They are avid television watchers and big fans of Sesame Street. Garak's
middle name is Bert.
<< Jake has always been an open-minded kid (he was the one who decided to
befriend a Ferengi, after all), and now, as a journalist on a
Dominion-occupied station, I'm sure he's going to strive to be fair and
impartial in his coverage of the situation. Which leads to the question:
could we possibly see Jake being drawn over to the Dark Side? Could he end
up being Tokyo Rose, feeding Dominion propaganda back to the Federation?>>
Weyoun would like this to happen, but Jake won't be going that route.
<<I remember a question/answer a while back, with the answer something along
the lines of "Because we want to keep DS9 episodes available for repeats in
any order." Obviously, you haven't done this with the recent episodes (I'm
not complaining!). Was the second-run syndication market an issue when you
were deciding to do this?>>
It was an issue for the studio. For whatever reason, the affiliates seem to
bitch and moan about being forced to air the episodes in order during second
run syndication. We tend to roll our eyes about the issue and it did take a
bit of talking to get Paramount to let us do this kind of multi-episode arc.
<<I have a story (or two) that I think would make for good "VOYAGER"
episodes, but my question is: "how does one submit a reasonably good story so
that it has chance for honest consideration?" Please feel free to answer
here (as I am sure many would also like to know) or you can e-mail personally
and I will give some of the story idea to you.>>
First of all, you can only submit a SCRIPT. Be sure that it's in the proper
format. The only general advice I can tell you is to write the best
characters and story that you can. If the writing is there, you'll get
noticed regardless of budgetary or production problems. If they say, "
There's no way we can produce this on a TV budget, but boy does s/he know how
to write," you're going to get noticed, brought in to pitch and you're on
<<How come no one from Classic or TNG are invited on DS9 this year? I also
have a new question for you. Will you do a show with Molly for us girls? I
like Jake, Nog, and Alexander. But they are all boys. Ziyel is a girl. But
she likes Garik. A good adventure with lots of action would be fun. I like
to laugh too. So please write something that makes us laugh. Please, don't
make it mushy. >>
I'm sorry to say that we're not planning to have anyone from Classic or TNG
on DS9 this year because we haven't got any stories for those characters that
we'd like to do. If one comes along that we all really like, I promise we'll
consider it. We won't be seeing Molly for the first half of the season
because there's a war going on around the station and Chief O'Brien didn't
want his family to be in danger. I can tell you that we'll be doing lots of
action shows and even a couple of funny ones too. And we'll try not to be
too mushy. Take care.
Date: 9/11/97 10:17:49 PM
<<How did the Borg get so far into Federation space in "First Contact" before
Starfleet responded? The last time the Borg invaded Federation space, the
cube was met in battle at Wolf 359. This time, the cube made it all the way
to Earth before Starfleet mounted a defense. What is up? Isn't Starfleet
cutting it a little too close to home?>>
We assumed that the Borg were using some version of the transwarp conduits
established in "Descent" to get that close to Earth, and that something
similar was responsible for bringing them so close to the Federation in "Best
of Both Worlds."
<<Are you planing anymore power members of the Donimion, or are the Vort, Jem
'Hadar, and Founders it?>>
At the moment, we see these three races as the power centers of the Dominion.
<<We know that the Jem'Hadar are fighters, the Founders are leaders and
spies, the Vorta are ambassadors and administrators, and the Karemma are
traders. Are we ever going to see the Dominion's engineers and scientists?>>
Possibly, but we don't have them on the drawing boards yet.
<<During Reg Barclay's walk-on in ST:FC, Dwight Schultz is carrying a piece
of twisted copper tubing that he discusses with LaForge. Maybe I just ate
too many green jujubes during that screening, but it sure reminded me of
FORBIDDEN PLANET's "Klystron Modulator" scene between Leslie Nielsen and
Richard Anderson -- you may recall it. Intentional? On your part, Brannon's,
or that of the prop department? Freak coincidence?>>
I've never heard of this before, so if it's not a coincidence, it must have
been an in-joke by the prop department.
<<Will we be learning more about the Breen this season? If so, will it be
learned the same way we've learned all that we know already (through small
drops of information over a wide range of characters)?>>
We have no plans for the Breen at the moment, but we could explore them in
<<Does the writing staff as a whole name an episode or does the individual
writer get to come up with something clever?>>
It's usually the writer who comes up with the title, but there are times when
s/he's stumped and the group has to jump in and find a title.
<<Do the cast and crew of DS9 radiate a family atmosphere (aside from Nan and
Sid, of course) or is it just a job?>>
That's something you'd have to ask the actors. I know that some of them are
closer than others, but that's as far as I'd like to go in characterizing
<<Ron, in the final shot of DS9's season ender, I could swear I saw a
coupleships that were either constitution class or Enterprise class. Was I
just seeing things? And this brings up another question... why is it that in
the 24th century, we see all kinds of ships from the 23rd century (Excelsior
class, the Reliant's class and the Science vessell from ST3) but the
Enterprise class is left out?>>
I don't have a list of all the ships and classes that were seen in that final
shot. We've tended to stay away from using Enterprise models as other ships
because we didn't want the audience to say, "There's the Enterprise!" when it
wasn't really there.
Date: 9/11/97 10:18:17 PM
<<Is there a connection between the Changlings and the race who seeded the
galaxy with humanoid life in the TNG episode "the Chase"? The humaniod form
used by the Changlings looks a lot like the aliens from that episode. I
belive the actress who played the alien is the sameone who plays the female
Changling. Could these aliens have encountered the changlings millenia ago
and be the basis for their humaniod shape and hate of solids?>>
It's possible and it's something that we've kicked around the office now and
again. But we've made no decision on this one way or the other.
<<According to TV Guide, "Look for at least one crew member to die during a
critical Dominion invasion." Now, we know it's not Colm. (Or is Ron
simply...Cancer Man??) Now, I don't want you to spoil it for us (uh, right),
but is this true? Any hints?>>
TV Guide -- purveyors of television fact and fiction. This one is fiction.
<<Just to settle things up for those people who want gender equality in the
Jem'Hadar race, could it be possible that there are Jem'Hadar females in the
Dominion that the Jem'Hadar males are unaware of? If not, that's fine. If so,
will we see them?>>
We don't believe there are any female Jem'Hadar.
<<In view of the discussions herein regarding history and politics, it occurs
to me that we have not obtained an express statement from you regarding the
compatibility of science fiction with ideas inherent in philosophical
materialism as they relate to history and political science. Query: What is
your view of the role of science fiction in exploring ideas that touch upon
I see no reason why science fiction cannot explore these ideas. Speculative
fiction would seem to offer many opportunities to the writer interesting in
pursuing these themes that are not readily available in other genres. The
freedom to concoct entire societies with wholly fictional socio-political
philosophies and histories endows the writer with an ability to examine moral
and metaphysical questions from a unique perspective and I would encourage
sci-fi to be used toward this end.
<<I wonder if after DS9 ends, UPN might have any made-for-tv movies on its
Thursday Sci-Fi movie lineup which starts this season. Ron, any thoughts on
It's possible, but I haven't heard about anything like this.
<<Ron, can you please explain the most mysterous character in Trek? What
exactly is Guinan's relationship to Picard? Will Mrs. Goldberg be appearing
as Guinan ever again?
And what about the rumors of Guinan's son making an appearance on DS9.>>
We never, ever spelled out the backstory between Picard and Guinan, even
among the writing staff. The relationship worked better if their past was
left mysterious. I don't know if there are any plans for Guinan in the next
film, but we have no plans to see her on DS9.
<<Ron, what exactly is the definition of an "open com link" I had assumed
that it meant that whoever said they would kep the open com link would be
able to here what was going on where the other person is withou teither
person hitting their communicator or otherwise initiating communications.Am I
wrong 'cause in two different Voyager episodes (no, I'm not blaming you-I
know it's not your fault, just trying to figure this out) Janeway has said
that she will keep an open com link but both times she obviously wasn't
hearing what was going on and I remember for sure once, the person hitting
their communicator to initiate communications; both times things would hav
ebeen a lot better if she could have heard what was going on from the start.
So what's an open com link?>>
Regardless of the odd com protocols currently employed in the Delta Quadrant,
we on DS9 see an open com link as being analogous to keeping the line open
and information continually flowing at least in one direction, sometimes two.
Date: 9/11/97 10:18:41 PM
<<In Siskos office sits a model of a contempary space station, and a model of
the conjectrual design for the Daedalus class ship.
is it an *official* Daedalus class? why did the production staff put it in
why did the production staff put the space station model in Siskos office?
and why would the charactor of Sisko have them in his office?>>
I'm not sure what you mean by "official". They're official in the sense that
Sisko has them and that means the models exist in the 24th century. They
could be replicas of actual vessels, or simply prototypes. The production
staff put them in his office to show Sisko's involvement with ship design
(remember he briefly worked at the Utopia Planetia Yards).
Date: 9/11/97 10:34:03 PM
<<Everyone at Paramount kinda gets uppity when spoilers leak to the 'Net. But
it seems to me that they're not doing anything about it (good news for
spoiler people). Is there anything you'd like to see done? For instance, the
infamous Ellen coming-out show, they printed the script on red paper so it
couldn't be copied or faxed- but that could get pretty expensive on a
show-to-show basis. >>
So far every solution to the problem of leaks has been either too expensive
or impractical or both. The distribution list for scripts on the lot is a
couple of hundred people long since so many departments are involved with the
production of any given episode and eventually *someone* is going to give
away a script, make a copy for a friend, or something. It's a headache, but
one we've basically learned to accept. BTW -- far from being "infamous" I
found Ellen's coming out to be one of the more courageous pieces of
television in the last twenty years.
<<The Generations and Yesterday's Enterprise Bridges look similar, was this
design made to help with funding, or just pulled out of the drawing book with
no intent with making it look like the YE bridge?>>
The designs themselves were completely independent of each other, but when
Brannon and I wrote the description of the E-E bridge, I was influenced by
the "look" of the YE Bridge. Although even that was influenced by the TOS
bridge -- the raised captain's chair without anyone standing directly behind
him being the primary design element shared by all three.
<<Is it possible that the Changlings gave little Odo the boot because he
couldn't mimic very well? Is they're insatiable need for order the real
reason he ended up in the Alpha Quad?>>
Not a bad theory, but not our current thinking either. At the moment, we're
going on the assumption that Odo was sent out for the reasons stated by the
<<any plans to bring back the Female changling? And if you do, will we learn
what her role in the Great Link is?>>
You will definitely be seeing more of her this season and learning more about
the Great Link.
Date: 9/12/97 6:11:02 PM
<<Now that the first six episodes comprising the current Dominion War arc
have been written and filmed, how do you think they turned out? Did you and
the staff reach the expectations that you had for the episodes? >>
I've seen the first five cut together and I'm very pleased so far. Until
they're finished, I hesitate to give a definitive answer, but I think that we
accomplished what we set out to do. They're a unique set of stories within
the Trek saga and I think they're going to kick the sixth year off with a
dramatic flourish. The seventh show is being shot now (it's mine) and I
think it's going to be a real gem as well.
<<...the current epidemic of eating disorders in our modern culture (anorexia
nervosa has the highest fatality rate of any of the mental disorders listed
in the DSM-IV) relates directly to the way women look on television, Trek
being one of the worst culprits in that area.>>
I'm not looking to stir this up again, but relating Trek to eating disorders
and then asserting that Trek is "one of the worst culprits in that area" is
not only fatuous, but also a prime example of the hysterical overstatement
that some people engage in on this board when trying to make a point.
<< <Nana is a very talented actress. She looked completely at ease in the
Indendant's costumes, and Anastasia's evening gown in "Our Man Bashir," and
in her negligee while in bed with Bareil. (In my opinion.)> While I agree
that she is a talented actress, it is ludicrous to suggest that those kinds
of scenes take any kind of acting talent. . .her talent has been evident in
episodes like "Duet," "The Homecoming/Circle/Seige" etc. NOT in whatever her
ability is to strut around in revealing clothing!!!!! >>
Actually, it is ludicrous to suggest that Nana's part in "Our Man Bashir" did
not take any kind of acting talent simply because she wore a negligee. In
fact, many actors consider comedy to be the most difficult type of acting to
execute, and Nana's skills in this area were obvious in the role of Col.
Komonanov. The same goes for the skill required to pull of her arch and
thoroughly enjoyable turns as the Intendent. (Also, I remember Nana telling
me personally on the set how much she liked the role of Komonanov and how she
liked the costumes in particular.)
<<Do you know what Odo uses as an energy source? I've asked this once before,
but Odo doesn't eat food...and he sure doesn't use energizer batteries...>>
Robert Wolfe used to theorize that the Changelings pulled their energy
directly from subspace (or some over quasi-scientific realm we have yet to
establish) but it's not a question we're exactly foaming at the mouths to
address on the show since it would lead us back into the Land of
<<As a writer, do you ever feel the weapons in Trek are *too* powerful? A
hand phaser could probably punch a hole in a boulder -- ducking behind a rock
or tree for cover wouldn't help much.>>
I agree. The weapons are way too powerful to present them in any realistic
kind of way. Given the real power of a hand phaser, we shouldn't be able to
show ANY firefights on camera where the opponents are even in sight of each
other, much less around the corner! It's annoying, but just one of those
things that we tend to slide by in order to concentrate on telling a dramatic
and interesting story.
<<Will Quark and/or Rom be getting into any more mischeif involving the FCA
(Ferengi Commerce Authority) and Brunt (Since Combs has his hands full
"Brunt -- FCA" will return this season.
<<Do you ever feel like the public is down on you for telling the stories you
want to tell? Do you ever feel like Paramount is down on you for telling the
stories you want to tell? Do you care, either way?>>
I care -- I'm not sure there are many writers who don't care about how their
work is recieved. But I try not to let it bother me if I liked the work. If
I agree with the criticism, then I try to take it to heart and do better.
Date: 9/12/97 6:20:44 PM
<<I was surprised when I saw that Avery Brooks was cast in the upcoming
movie, "The Big Hit," which John Woo (who directed Face Off) is an executive
producer for. I was wondering what your thoughts on this were, and if you
would ever consider writing a script for John Woo.>>
I think Avery is extremely talented and would be a boon to almost any
project. I'd love to work with John Woo, "Hardboiled" being one of my
favorite films. (I personally think the opening shoot-out in the tea room is
one of the best action sequences ever filmed.)
<<How about an update on the involvement of Romulans, or quite unforunately
and more likely lack there of, in this upcoming season, Ron?>>
We have an idea floating around that would involve the Romulans, but it's at
a very early development stage.
<<I know I've asked this before, and forgive me if you answered. What are
the FED shapeshifters doing these days? Cameliod or Elasomorpf. Might they
be the experts who is and isn't who they saw they are. Are they traveling in
the Gamma Quad at the behest of SF?>>
I have no idea. We haven't even mentioned these races in a story meeting
since I came aboard in TNG's 3rd year.