Saturday, June 7, 2014

Interview with STAR BLAZERS' Amy Howard Wilson Part II

(Amy Howard Wilson and new husband David, a
Star Blazers devotee!)
It has been a thrill over the years to interview and meet nearly all of my childhood -- and adulthood -- icons. My favorite actor, Martin Landau, graciously gave me over an hour of his time, one on one, during the summer he was doing press junkets for the first X-Files movie. Kate Mulgrew was always available during my stint writing for the Sci Fi Channel's magazine -- and was even so kind as to pen a stunning blurb for the cover of The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse: Twenty-six Tales From the Terrifying Mind of Gregory L. Norris two years ago.  The late, great director Robert Wise -- he of such classics as The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and the first big screen Star Trek movie -- shared with me special effect stories about the famous 'breathing door' scene in the classic The Haunting for my article in Cinescape Magazine (the door was made of styrofoam, and all that wonderful crackling of wood the result of a man pushing against it from the other side). While flying from Boston to L.A. and the set of Star Trek: Voyager, I happened to glance over at the man sitting next to me. Who was he? None other than seaQuest DSV star John D'Aquino -- my favorite actor from what was, at that time, one of my favorite TV shows.  I introduced myself, and John and I spent that five-hour flight getting to know one another, mostly via anecdotes about his seaQuest experience. Two days after landing, John and I were enjoying breakfast at the Roosevelt Hotel with my best friend and oft writing partner, Laura A. Van Vleet. After breakfast, he took us for a spin around the Hollywood Hills in his convertible, showing us some of the must-see sights of beauty hidden above Tinseltown.

Imagine my elation when, after the phone call went through, the voice from the other end of a new connection transported me back in time to so many afternoons spent cross-legged on the floor, my focus glued to the TV and the latest Star Blazers episode.  I was speaking with "Nova", one of the most beloved heroines in all of Science Fiction, as voiced by actress Amy Howard Wilson.  Ms. Wilson is not only a delight who instantly made me feel like an honorary member of the Star Force, but earned super-duper extra points among the most celebrated of celebrities for her generosity -- our first chat, taped on the flip-side of the cassette containing the Robert Wise interview, was lost to a series of warps.  She graciously gave me a second interview.  "We'll just refer to the first as a table read," she said.  Truly, a superstar burning brightly among the galaxy it has been my pleasure to meet and write about.

You didn't know if viewers would tune in to Star Blazers?
AHW: It was on for about a year, but they kept switching the air times.  It came on at three in the afternoon, and then 6:30 in the morning.  I didn't even see any of the completed episodes during the production.  What happened was that we came into the studio, we'd do our chunk of dialogue, and once that was done, we'd go on to the next episode.  We might knock out four or five shows in a day. Ken Meseroll, who played "Derek Wildstar" or Tom Tweedy -- "Mark Venture" -- would do their stuff, and then they'd mix it all together.  We didn't see the whole series until it started to air.  And then they changed the air times!

(Argo, make us proud!  Me, with my six original Star Blazers fan fic novels and
ten short stories)
I was out auditioning for other stuff.  That's the nature of the business -- you go on to your next set of auditions.  The only people we really knew were watching the show were mom and dad and our family, our friends, our cousins. We didn't know if it was going to last, to continue in reruns. After a year or so, it was gone.  I couldn't find it anywhere.  At the time, a VCR cost about a thousand dollars.  There were no Blockbuster Video stores, no Suncoast.

Fast forward several years --
In 1995, I got a call from my brother-in-law.  My nieces at that time were huge Pokemon fans, and they'd gotten to talking one day about how their Aunty had done this show called Star Blazers.  They went on line to see what they could find about the show.  He said, 'You're not going to believe what we found!' So I logged on and started looking and found website after website designed by fans who absolutely loved the show.  The one that caught my eye was The Wave Motion Webpage [named after the Argo's engine system and also its mother-of-all-weaponry, the Wave Motion Gun].  I clicked on a link to send an email to the webmaster and introduced myself, telling him how glad I was to find the page.  I got a reply: "Hi, are you SERIOUS?!" He started asking me questions and had forwarded my message on to other people, who started sending me emails -- asking me serious technical questions like how the ship was designed, who drew this specific character. They were diehard fans!  We did the show in 1979, it aired in 1980 through '81.  Fifteen years after, I found the website and then got an email from one of those fans who wanted to put me in touch with a guy named Dave Merrill.  Dave ran a fan convention called Anime Weekend Atlanta.  And then I found myself there, at this convention. The following year at the same con, I met my lovely husband Dave.  So you could say that Star Blazers brought us together.

One clearly senses that you take the excellent work you've done as Nova and, even more, your level of commitment to fans, with a level of seriousness that is, frankly, inspiring. You're never too busy to sign an autograph -- or give a second interview after the first gets planet-bombed!
In this business, you can be forgotten about tomorrow.  I don't want to be forgotten -- and I don't want Nova to be forgotten about, either.  Lucille Ball and Angela Lansbury, their careers spanned fifty and sixty years worth of awesome performances.  They did good, quality work.  Those are the people I have as my role models.  The work could last half an hour or ten years.  You never know.  So when you start getting complacent and arrogant...I've seen that happen and I don't ever, ever want anybody to regard me that way. It touches me when I hear that fans are now watching the show with their grandchildren!  I look back and think...I've been doing conventions for seventeen years now because of this one role.  After all of this time of Star Blazers not being on the air, there's no syndication, no rerunning -- except for the week or two it ran on Toonami or the SyFy Channel -- and fans are still so enthusiastic.  It's a phenomenon.  I'm extremely proud of that.

Heartfelt thanks to Ms. Wilson, who has also agreed to pen a cover blurb for my forthcoming Tales From the Robot Graveyard.

No comments:

Post a Comment