Category Archives: Starlog Archives
Tom Baker is best-known as “the fourth Doctor” on the long-running British sci-fi series, Dr. Who. Baker portrayed the time lord from 1974-1981. With seven years of time travel under his belt, Baker holds the record for the longest tenure on the series. When Starlog caught up with Baker in February of 1987, he didn’t have a lot going on. But he hadn’t faded into obscurity either. In fact, Baker remains active to this day having returned to Dr. Who in 2013 for the show’s 50th anniversary.
You may not know his name, but you know Ted Cassidy’s work. The 6’9″ in actor was best known for having played Lurch on The Addams Family. He also gave memorable performances on Star Trek, I Dream of Jeannie, Lost in Space and The Six Million Dollar Man in which he took over the role of Bigfoot from Andre the Giant. The February 1987 issue of Starlog included an interview with the “legendary big man”.
For many, myself included, Christopher Reeve was the definitive Superman. Following the third movie in the original trilogy, Reeve hung up his cape and tights. But his post-Man of Steel career didn’t exactly take flight. Four years later, Reeve was ready to reprise his signature role. The rights to Superman had been bought from the Salkinds by Cannon Films in a bid at legitimacy. To entice Reeve back to the part, Cannon offered him creative control over the story. But Superman IV suffered from massive budget cuts as Cannon went out of business.
In the February 1987 issue of Starlog magazine, Reeve discussed his return to Superman. At the time, production was less than two weeks away and the actor had no idea the movie wasn’t going to work out. The article notes that Superman IV was scheduled for a 1988 release to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the character. Instead, Cannon dropped in in theaters just a few months later.
After many years of dormancy, Dr. Who was revived in 2005. During the second season of the new series, David Tennant took over the lead role. The show was not only a hit in the U.K., but was also popular in the U.S. In the January, 2007 issue of Starlog, head writer Russell T. Davies talked about relaunching the series for the 21st century.
Paul Giamatti has been a respected character actor for quite a while. Lead roles in American Splendor (2003) and Sideways (2004) brought additional acclaim. By 2006, Hollywood was willing to give Giamatti a shot at leading man status with M. Night Shyamalan’s fantasy film, Lady In The Water. If you read the Razzie articles, you know that Lady was a pivotal movie in the director’s career. It was intended to be a triumphant middle finger to all of his critics, but it turned out to prove Shyamalan’s critics right.
Giamatti walked away from the mess mostly unscathed. But he didn’t get another shot at the brass ring of leading-man-hood. Lady in the Water was also expected to make a household name of Bryce Dallas Howard. Instead, she went on to play Gwen Stacy in Spider-man 3. In short, it was a floppity-flop. But before that proved to be true, Giamatti discussed the movie with Starlog magazine.
Writer-director Alfonso Cuarón had critically acclaimed hits with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Gravity (2013). Sandwiched in between them was the critically acclaimed flop, Children of Men (2006). The movie imagined a world in which humanity’s future was threatened by global infertility. The movie starred Clive Owen right at the time when it looked like he might be a movie star. Owen played a former activist who must protect the first woman to become pregnant in 18 years. The actor discussed his new movie in the January 1997 issue of Starlog.
The one constant in Starlog’s publication history was Star Trek. We have seen it in every decade we have looked at so far this month. 1997 was no exception. In the January 1997 issue of the magazine, they were still covering Star Trek: First Contact. I have had a bit of Trek overload in the archives of late, but I couldn’t pass up interviews with James Cromwell and Alfre Woodard who tagged along for this adventure.
In the late eighties, Tim Burton became one of the hottest directors in Hollywood. The former Disney animator brought a unique visual style to his movies which included hits like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman. Burton rode that momentum into the 90’s with his most personal movie to date, Edward Scissorhands and a dark Batman sequel. In 1994, Ed Wood was praised by critics but flopped at the box office. By 1996, Burton’s career path was staring to look murky.
Just in time for the holiday season, Burton directed a B-movie based on kitschy trading cards from his youth. The cards depicted scenes of malevolent aliens conquering the earth. There was very little narrative to adapt, just bizarre and often gruesome imagery. To make the movie more commercial, Burton packed his cast with familiar faces including Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox and Jack Nicholson.
The gamble did not pay off. Mars Attacks! was a box office flop. Afterwards, Burton took a three year hiatus before directing his next movie. In this cover story from the January 1997 issue of Starlog, Burton talks about his new B-movie.
Director Michael Ritchie had a career that could be described as scattershot. If there’s a through-line, it’s that most of Ritchie’s movies were comedic. In the seventies, he made a name for himself with movies like The Candidate and The Bad News Bears. After a cold streak in the early eighties, Ritchie rebounded with Fletch and to a lesser extent the Goldie Hawn comedy Wildcats. Then he drew the short straw and had to direct Eddie Murphy in the limp action-comedy, The Golden Child.
While The Golden Child was a hit, it performed poorly when compared to Murphy’s recent releases at the time. Critical reaction could be summed up with a shrug. While The Golden Child won’t be remembered as anybody’s best work, it was a big movie at the time. Starlog talked to Ritchie in their January 1987 issue about what it was like to make a special-effects-heavy fantasy film with one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
Three decades later, you will be forgiven for forgetting that John Carpenter’s cult sci-fi drama, Starman, spawned a syndicated TV series. Robert Hays, best known from Airplane!, stepped into the role created by Jeff Bridges in the movie. Future Brady kid, C. B. Barnes costarred as Hays’ son. During the first and only season, Starman and son avoided government capture while looking for the boy’s missing mom. That part was originated by Karen Allen but taken over by Erin Grey on the TV show.
In this interview from the January 1987 issue of Starlog magazine, Hays discusses Starman, Airplane! and the dangers he faced making the Stephen King movie, Cat’s Eye.
Last week, I commented that in 1977, Starlog magazine was primarily concerned with Star Trek. For the next several years, the publication would be dominated by Star Wars, but here we are ten years later and the cover story is once again about Star Trek. By 1987, Star Wars had faded in relevance whereas Star Trek, while never as popular as George Lucas’ creation, was still going strong.
In this issue, Leonard Nimoy discusses directing his second Star Trek feature. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was actually released in 1986 and it became the most successful of the original Star Trek films – the first ever to gross over $100 million dollars. Nimoy would go on to direct the smash hit comedy, Three Men and a Baby which would be released later in 1987.
For much of the 80’s, Disney animation floundered. Former Disney animator Don Bluth was doing the unthinkable. He was giving the Mouse House a run for its money. In fact, in 1986 Bluth outgrossed Disney with his own story about a mouse. An American Tail handily outperformed Disney’s Great Mouse Detective as well as reissues of Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty.
Bluth’s dominance was short-lived. In 1988, Disney’s singing dog movie, Oliver and Company would outgross his dinosaur drama, The Land Before Time. But it was close enough that both movies were considered modest hits. Then in 1989, Bluth’s All Dogs Go to Heaven got crushed at the box office by The Little Mermaid.
For a brief time, Bluth was standing tall over his former employer. And at that point in January of 1987, Starlog interviewed the animator about his triumph.
In order to avoid the legal entanglements of being an unofficial Star Trek fan magazine, Starlog had to expand its coverage to include other aspects of science fiction. But in the pre-Star Wars era, there weren’t a lot of current sci-fi or fantasy movies for them to write about. So that mostly meant covering the TV shows of the 70’s. And when it came to sci-fi TV in 1977, it didn’t get much bigger than Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man.
Did you have the action figure with the bionic arm? I did. I always wanted Big Foot, but never did get him.