Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nimoy's Talk at NSS - Article and Video

Media Blvd Magazine just published a story about Nimoy's talk at the National Space Symposium. It has a great recap of some of the stories and jokes that he told, and off to the right has video of him actually giving the speech. Definitely worth taking a look at!

Also, it looks like I got the chance to meet him just in time - he's now retiring from acting, and even from the convention circuit! (Star Trek fans in mourning as Leonard Nimoy announces his retirement)

Anyway, here's the article:

Nimoy Receives High Honor From The Space Community
(Media Blvd) April 21, 2010, By Kenn Gold
Leonard Nimoy, best known as the iconic half-Vulcan, half-human Spock from Star Trek was given the 2010 Douglas S. Morrow public outreach award last week by the Space Foundation.  In front of a crowd made up largely of NASA and DOD space scientists and engineers, and aerospace company executives, Nimoy was the honored speaker at the award ceremony and dinner held on the final night of the 26th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

He spoke of the good memories of being with the rest of the Star Trek cast in 1976 in the Mojave desert as the space shuttle Enterprise rolled out.  “It was thrilling to be there,” he said.  A mail in campaign by Star Trek fans had led to the naming of the shuttle after the star ship from the series.

Nimoy says that people often confuse actors with the characters they play, but that he is not a scientist, though he recognizes that the cast members of the series are role models, and is proud of that fact.  He related an experience from a few years ago when he was invited to speak at Caltech, and then was given a tour of the projects that the students were working on.  “I met some of the very brilliant young people, 20, 21, 22 years old, working on extremely sophisticated projects.  And they were explaining these things to me.  It was not my language!  I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, but I nodded very sagely, stroked my chin a little bit and was very thoughtful.  They said, “What do you think?”  And I said, “You’re on the right track.”

Nimoy attributes the shows popularity, in part, to the real life NASA space race, and to the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.  “It had a great impact on the Star Trek reruns.  I think people began to look at Star Trek in a new and different way.  There seemed to be a potential reality to what we were doing,” he said.  Instead of drifting away, the show became even more popular, which would lead to the future film franchise, and multiple television spin offs.  “The show began to find a tremendous new audience,” he said.

Nimoy spoke of the return of the movie franchise as a result of the popularity of the reruns of Star Trek, but acknowledges that the first film has its problems.  “We did three seasons.  People are shocked that we only did three seasons, but that’s all it was in 1966, 67 and 68.  Then we shut down and were out of business for awhile, for 11 years.  Eleven years later, as a result of the success of the Star Trek reruns, and as a result of the success of George Lucas’ Star Wars, Paramount woke up and said let’s do a Star Trek Movie.  So in 1979, we did Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  And frankly, it was not our best effort,” he said.

He agreed to a death scene in Wrath of Khan, thinking that the movie was going to be a low budget take on the Star Trek saga, and wouldn’t be very good.  “I thought, “We’re going to scrape the barrel and turn out a cheap Star Trek movie, how good can that be?  Ok, I’ll go out as a hero and save the crew and the ship, and go out in a blaze of glory.”  So we began working on the second film, and obviously, it was going to be a good one.  The script was good, the direction was good.  And we were all having fun, and were back to the kind of chemistry that we had when we were doing our best television work.  So I thought, maybe I might have made a mistake,” he said.

After seeing the second film, Nimoy thought he had made a mistake in letting Spock die, but was hopeful after seeing the final scene with his burial tube in tact, that he would be around for more feature films.  “And sure enough, they called me and said, we’d love you to be involved in the next Star Trek movie, and I said, “Thank you very much, I’d love the opportunity to direct, and they let me.   I did two of them, Star Trek 3 and Star Trek 4.  It was in 4 where people think maybe Bill tried to drown me, I’m not sure.  Anyway, we had a great time.  We made six of them, then the next generation took over,” he said.

null Working with J.J. Abrams was a high point for Nimoy, and he is very grateful that the franchise was re-invented.  He also spoke of his work on Fringe, and gave some ominous hints to the future of William Bell.  “Now I’m doing some occasional work on the Fringe television series.  It’s a darn good show, very well produced, and I just finished some work in Vancouver about there days ago, which will be on the air in May.  Watch for it, I think you will enjoy it.  It’s some very interesting work.  My character, William Bell meets up with Walter, and we have a very interesting process that we have to work out together,” he said.

Nimoy is happy with his career, and was honored by the award he received.  “I’ve had a great, great, great time.  As far as the honor issue is concerned, here I am tonight honored by the Space Technology Hall of Fame.  How much more honored does it get.  I’m a very happy guy.  I believe in living a creative life.  I believe in bringing more to the party than is required or asked for.  I believe in showing up and using both sides of the brain,” he said.

At the end of his speech, as in the beginning, Nimoy was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd and a standing ovation as he said, “I thank you all, may you all live long and prosper.”  As CEOs, engineers, rocket scientists, military officers, and at least two astronauts (literally) rose, many with hands outstretched in the iconic V- Vulcan salute, Nimoy knew he was among friends.  And he knew that many of the people in the room were at least partially inspired in their own careers in the space field by his Mr. Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew.Nimoy announces his retirement

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