[Full unedited transcriptfrom a 1997 MSN chat with Majel Roddenberry. The event was hosted by DJ NelsonAspen, who had a "show" on MSN at the time. Ed]
Nelson: Hi, gang, andwelcome to NELSON'S WORLD!! It may be Wednesday, but it sure feels like aFriday...as we are anticipating the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Nelson: And what a terrificway to celebrate, by bringing you up close and personal with my specialcelebrity guest, Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
Nelson: Zillions of sci fi fans know her not only as the wife of the late"Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, but as one of the original castmembers of the history-making series.
Nelson: These days she can be seen on the syndicated smash "Earth: FinalConflict."
Nelson: She'll be joining us here in the studio shortly, so you may beginsending in all your questions and comments for her.
Nelson: They'll be screenered by the gent we call Screenerman, before beingpassed on to the conversation.
Nelson: That will hopefully transpire with lightning speed, thanks to the nimblefingers of my darling typist,
Nelson: Majel's typist, Michelle, is no slouch either, but we haven't made agraphic yet.
Nelson: Take my word for it, she's fab fab fabulous!!!!
Nelson: In the meantime, I'll offer you some celebrity news, reviews, and ifyou're up for it, schmooze!
Nelson: You can ask me anything.
Nelson: I bumped into "Fired Up" star Sharon Lawrence last night, wholooked kind of sad about the fact that she wasn't getting any press attention.
Nelson: Why? You ask.
Nelson: My sources tell me that Sharon's a little OVER exposed these days, andit's been suggested to her that she keep a safe distance from cameras for awhile.
Nelson: See, even in Hollywood you CAN get too much of a good thing.
pollyp: What do the stars do for Thanksgiving Nelson?
Nelson: Well, pollyp, they all party at MY place.
Nelson: I'm going to be up all night slaving in the kitchen with my houseboy,preparing the feast.
Nelson: I'm bound to be stuffed tomorrow.
Nelson: LOL [to graphic]
Nelson: Many stars like to get out of town on glamorous trips, especially whenEl Nino brings the rains to Los Angeles.
Nelson: Some big stars will be spending their holiday time performing a radioversion of the classic Christmas film "It's a Wonderful Life."
Nelson: Bill Pullman, Penelope Ann Miller, Nathan Lane, Minnie Driver, MartinLandau, Sally Field, Hal Holbrook, Christian Slater, and Joe Mantegna will lendtheir voices for this December 8th broadcast.
Nelson: But, now, we'll worry about the world of television.
Nelson: And I'll start with a review of a holiday telefilm which will be airingthis Sunday on CBS.
Nelson: It's called "Borrowed Hearts" produced by Atlantis films andis rated TV-G.
Nelson: Right there, that tells you that I won't be seeing it. I like a littlespicy language in my entertainment fair.
Nelson: But, for you fans of "Touched by an Angel", and I know thereare millions, you'll LOVE getting all warm and fuzzy with Roma Downey.
Nelson: She plays a down on her luck factory worker (typecasting or what?) who,with her young daughter, agrees to pose as her boss' wife to impress a wealthyindustrialist, played by Hector Elizondo.
Nelson: I don't have to tell you what happens next.
Nelson: But, it's a big lovefest with the magic of Christmas liberalllysprinkled all over the place.
Nelson: Why not just leave it on tv while you wrap presents?
Nelson: It's a harmless sweet story, and keep your eyes peeled for Nelson'sWorld friend, Janet Bailey.
Nelson: Remember her from show #100?
Nelson: And, now, let's bring in the producer and star of "Earth: FinalConflict", our special celebrity guest, Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
Nelson: Welcome to Nelson's World, Majel.
MajelR: Thank you.
Nelson: You're an online savvy individual. You have your own website, Iunderstand.
MajelR: LOL! Yes, I do. but, I'm .... as far as the computer is concerned, I'mstill having trouble with the on/off button.
MajelR: I have people who operate these things for me and they clue me in.
MajelR: but, I'm still doing the same thing that I'm doing with you, which isanswering questions.
Nelson: Fans can't get enough of you, Majel, because you ARE the source. Do youever tire of answering these questions, and are you ever stumped?
MajelR: I've been stumped every so often. Not too often because I've heard mostof them quite afew times.
MajelR: And, I don't get tired of answering them, no. Because I know thatthere's a friend on the other end.
Nelson: What do you think your late husband, Gene Rodenberry, would think of theinternet explosion?
MajelR: He would be ... he would probably think that he invented it. Because hewas one of the first one's that ever had a computer, especially ones sitting athome.
MajelR: He took lessons on it, he knew it, he understood it. by this point, hewould be doing this and probably multiples of this.
Nelson: We should tell the audience that your website address iswww.roddenberry.com
MajelR: Very difficult.
Nelson: Let's take a few questions for our special guest, Majel BarrettRoddenberry, right off the bat.
horus: what did you do before Trek? What roles did you play?
MajelR: I didn't realize there WAS a before Trek. It just seems as though I'vebeen doing it all my life. I started when I was 10 years old in Cleveland at theCleveland Playhouse, continued through college, went to New York and did acouple of Browadway shows, came out to Los Angeles and basically stayed here.
MajelR: Doing spot motion pictures and episodic TV.
Nelson: Had you been a science fiction fan before landing your role on"Star Trek"?
MajelR: I had been a fan, yes. But, I was never IN anything, there just wasn'tanything. there was very, very litle science fiction back in those days. It wasconsidered "degrading."
Mitchell: do you still keep in touch with Shatner? Do you agree with the othercast members that he is something of a pompous ass?
MajelR: I never see Mr. Shatner. And, I've never had anything against him untilhe became personal with Gene and vented some anger against Gene, which I feltwas unjustified. And, then I took up Gene's cause.
MajelR: I don't like actors who think they did it all themselves.
Nelson: But he should assume full responsibility for that toupee!
MajelR: He can do whatever he likes that makes him feel good. I wish him thebest. I just wish he would leave my husband alone and give him the credit thathe deserves.
Nelson: It makes you wonder if we would even remember Shatner's name, had he notbeen cast in the Star Trek series.
MajelR: YOU said it. I didn't it. LOL!
rialto: What was Gene like personality-wise? Tough, gentle, business-like...?
MajelR: ALL of the above.
Nelson: And, now, his ashes are orbiting in space.
Nelson: Is that something he'd dreamed about?
MajelR: No. He had no idea he would be doing this.
MajelR: It first happened after he had passed away and I thought wouldn't it benice if at least his ashes could orbit the Earth.
MajelR: And, I said it evidently at the right time and the right plact TO theright person who followed it through to NASA where eventually, they took a vileof his ashes and Commander James Weatherby took them up as a piece of hispersonal property and took him into space but had to bring him back.
Nelson: LOL. It was a round trip ticket.
MajelR: That's right. LOL! so, when Celestis called and said they would like avile of his ashes to take up into orbit to STAY up there, I said yes on theprovision that when they finally take the ashes and shoot them straight out intospace, or toward the sun, which is the ultimate goal, by that time, which isgoing to be a long time in the future, I hope, I will go with him.
MajelR: so, now every 90 minutes, I think of Gene flying over head, looking downand smiling, I hope, at what we're doing to his show.
Nelson: How much control over the Star Trek evolution did he still maintain atthe time of his death?
MajelR: I'm not sure what you mean by "evolution"? By the time he haddone the two series', but that was going to be as far as he went with theseries'. The other two offshoots were, of course, with his blessing andknowledge but he had died before either of those were put into practicality.
kelly: Did you meet Gene on the set of Star Trek or did you know him before?
MajelR: I knew him a long time before. I met him back in 1960 when he waswriting pilots at Screen Gems and I went into see him just as an actress to aproducer, we became friends. I knew him for 7 years. I lived with him 1 year.And, we were married for 22.
Nelson: Was your long marriage an adventure in itself? It seems like it shouldhave been.
MajelR: It was very ordinary. We never let "Star Trek" into the house.It was always left at the studio. But, at the studio it was an adventure,always.
MajelR: I think because of the people that we met and the fans, like yourselves,who were so open and generous at all times.
Nelson: Was that kind of devotion and reaction anything close to Gene's wildestdreams?
MajelR: You don't wake up in the morning and say, "today, I'm going to makea legend." Because when you analyze it, we ARE this century's mythology. Wenever had any idea that anyone would remember us beyond the third year becausewe were considered a flop show and taken off the air. So, everything else cameas a total complete surprise.
spitfire: Was it considered racy to live together back then?
MajelR: Oh, sure! LOL!
Nelson: LOL. My mother would say it's racy now.
MajelR: That's right. So would mine. LOL!
Nelson: Were you two accused of nepotism because of your role in the Star Trekseries?
MajelR: Of course. Always. Yeah.
Nelson: And why did you leave the show relatively early in its run?
MajelR: I never had anything to do with leaving the show. It was always forcedupon me. LOL!
bifman: How do you explain the enduring success and obsession with Star Trek?
MajelR: The fact that we were talking about a future and a future which was aBETTER place and probably a kinder, gentler world.
MajelR: Where Gene's optimism showed at all times. And, tomorrow was going to bea happier place to live.
Nelson: Your character, Nurse Chapel, returned in the Star Trek motion picture.Did you come up with a scenario for where she'd been in between appearances?
MajelR: Not at all. I had nothing to do with ANY of the writing EVER on theshow.
Nelson: Any chance she may ever pop up on "Star Trek: Voyager"?
MajelR: I would say the chances are 100% negative.
Richard: Did you enjoy your role on ST:Next Generation as Luoxana Troi (sp?) ?Will she be appearing on DS9 or Voyager anytime soon!???
MajelR: I would like to know the answer to that question, too. Since no part hasbeen written for me in the last two years, I guess I am still married to Odo onDS9 but I would surmise that that's where it's going to be left since no one haswritten me back in for the last two years. My chances of being on"Voyager" are slim to zero also.
MajelR: And, I have no idea as to the honest to God real reasons why.
Nelson: We chatted with Executive Producer Brannon Braga, who admitted that hetakes a lot of heat from Star Trek fans for his somewhat reckless approach tothe legend.
Nelson: Would you agree with that opinion of Mr. Braga?
MajelR: I wouldn't blame anything on him 100%. Perhaps he has contributed. Ireally do not have an opinion on that. I don't know how much he's had to do withwhatever they're talking about.
MajelR: While not being involved with either "DS9" or"Voyager", I'd rather stay away from the studio most of the time anddo not become involved with any of their problems or political agenda.
MajelR: I have my own agenda with "Earth ..."
totherow: YOu are a wonderful actress, and I have always loved you since StarTrek TOS days.
totherow: I have come to depend on your voice Majel as the logical voice of thecomputer
cglackin: And for us TRUE geeks: Is there a CD available with some stockrecordings of your beautiful computer voice? (Like a THEME for Windows kindathing.) If not, please consider it! :)
MajelR: Thank you for the comment. This is not the first time I've heard this.
MajelR: I am not allowed to go ahead and do this on my own. It would have to bethrough Paramount. So, you're yelling at the wrong person. LOL!
Nelson: Does the corporate control over the Star Trek franchise ever wear youdown, Majel?
MajelR: EVERY DAY.
Nelson: Is it a real tug-of-war?
MajelR: I don't allow it to be. It could be. But, I don't allow it to be.
bigtalker: Are you happy with what the writers are doing with star trek?
MajelR: Yes. I think they're serving their purposes. I think they have a goal. Ithink they're achieving it. I love the shows this year on both shows. They'redoing quality television. The writing is superb. And, the production values areuncomparable.
MajelR: so, yes there's nothing to dislike about what they're doing. It'sdifferent from what Gene would be doing, but that doesn't mean that it's wrong.
Nelson: Who are some of the actors you especially like on these series?
MajelR: Oh, I'd have to say Marina, without a doubt. She played my daughter,"Deanna."
Thomas: How much time do you spend recording the voice of the computer for thecurrent Start Trek shows?
MajelR: About 10 minutes per episode. LOL!
Nelson: Nice work if you can get it! LOL
MajelR: Right. LOL!
Nelson: And you do other voiceover work as well, correct?
MajelR: I did Anna Watson in "Spiderman."
MajelR: That's mostly the extent of what I'm doing now but I used to docommercials. I'd probably like to get back into that again or even other voicework but, at the moment, I'm full up. LOL!~
Nelson: Majel's going to have her hands full decorating Christmas trees. I hearyou really go to town for the holidays.
MajelR: LOL! Well, I have 11 decorated trees inside the house which are now upand functioning and working. And, the rest of the house is also decorated. Welight up outside, which somebody said I had 150,000 white lights outside andgreat big huge 50-60 foot trees. And, all over the property and the house, wejust put in 500 poinsettias.
MajelR: but, this will all be lit up tomorrow night from now through the firstweek in January.
Nelson: And then comes the electric bill! LOL
MajelR: Yes. LOL! NASA had some fun with me once cause they said that we knowwhat happens at your house at Christmastime. And, I said, "How?" Theysaid, "Because we notice that each year the Bel Air Hotel is over here, theBel Air Country Club is over there, there's the other hotel." They knewwhere all these spots were because they lit up on the satellite.
MajelR: And, all of a sudden, one night they said, "There's another set oflights there!" And, it was too big for them to pass up, so they sentsomebody to check it out. And, I showed up on their screens! LOL!
Nelson: With my luck, one damn bulb would be out and the whole string would go!
MajelR: That happens with me, too. LOL!
Scooby: What was the story behind the original Trek pilot? You were originallycast as second-in-command, right?
MajelR: Gene wrote that part first, last, and always for me. As a matter offact, that was the first part that he wrote. He wanted a woman second in commandand I was going to be that woman.
MajelR: So, when we did it we thought isn't this innovative and fun. NBC said,"No. Our people don't think so. We want you to recast the role, get rid ofthe woman because no one will believe a woman second in command."
MajelR: They said, "This show was too cerebral." And, they were goingto try to make another pilot, but they wanted changes.
MajelR: Number one, WAS "Number One", which was my character name.Number two was, the guy with the ears had to go because he was too"Satanic" looking. so, Gene knew that it was going to break my heart,but he wanted to Spock character so badly that he figured, "Ok. I'll marrythe woman and I'll keep the Spock character because I don't think Leonard wouldhave it the other way around."
MajelR: And, the third thing they wanted was instead of 50% men, 50% women, wasto have mostly men, because otherwise it was going to look like there was toomuch "hanky panky" going on on board the Starship.
MajelR: Well, Gene figured he was going to have to fight to get some of what hewanted anyway, this one he could live with because 30 good women could handle acrew of 300 anyway.
Nelson: Do you think Gene would be pleased with the way his project "Earth:Final Conflict" has been developed for television in 1997?
MajelR: I don't know the answer to that, but I think he would. We have stayedvery close to his original concept. And, also the concept that he has proposedfor the last 30 years.
Nelson: I love that show. It's one of the few that I get to see with anyregularity.
Nelson: And, I
Nelson: ve been most impressed.
MajelR: Thank you.
FLAtRich: I noticed Dorothy Fontana wrote one recent ETFC episode. Will she orother veteran Roddenberry creative talents be contributing to ETFC in the nearfuture?
MajelR: I certainly hope so.
MajelR: I can't guarantee anything yet. We are stilll growing the idea and we'llstay pretty close to home.
intern: What is in store for EFC? I mean, if you would like to tell about theseries...
MajelR: There isn't too much I CAN tell, seeing as it is a mystery/intrigueadventure story.
MajelR: And, if I did say anything more, I'd have to kill you. LOL!
Nelson: Tell us about your character, Dr. Belman.
MajelR: She is a brilliant scientist, which I am not. She has many, many degreesand awards, which I have not.
MajelR: She has done a lot of living, which I HAVE.
MajelR: She has a lot of living to do, which I HOPE I have. And, will be muchmore fully developed in this next season than she is now.
MajelR: I really wanted to develop the other characters before we went near her.Frankly, so I could get a better idea myself.
Nelson: Are the Roddenberry fans pleased with the story so far?
MajelR: To the best of my knowledge, yes they are. the email that I get is very... it's very comforting, very rewarding. We get criticisms, we listen to ourcriticisms, we don't necessarily do anything about them, but they are taken intoconsideration.
MajelR: We appreciate all of the fan interest, certainly. And, believe it ornot, I DO answer all of my email.
Nelson: I'm crazy about everything except the Visitors' costumes.
Nelson: Otherwise, I give it a ten.
MajelR: Ah! Thank you for the observation. That's the first time I've heardthat. I will certainly pass it on.
MajelR: I'm a little tired of seeing them in the same thing myself. But, seeingas they're only zippering themselves into this place, in the first place, I'mnot sure where we're going to go from here.
Nelson: Maybe our audience has some thoughts on the subject....
Wayne: Is it coincidence or intentional that the name of the alien race in FinalConflict is the same as the name of the aliens in the Star Trek pilot? Are thesesuppposed to be same aliens? (they are called talosians, right?)
MajelR: No. They are not the same.
MajelR: that was just the way Gene wrote them. Only these are spelled"TAELON." And, the ones in the original pilot were "TALOSIANSfrom TALOS IV."
MajelR: Maybe he thought they were lucky? LOL!
totherow: Majel I really love the work you are doing in Earth: Final Conflict. Ihave seen every episode and love to see the quality you bring to the set, in allyou do you give it all a sense of authenticity.
MajelR: Well, that's because, you remember as Lwaxana, I can read minds, and thefuture. So, I am bringing that ability to "Earth ... " and I knowwhat's going to happen six to eight years from now.
Nelson: The show has an interesting look, Majel, the city itself looks decidedlyunAmerican.
Nelson: Where is it shot?
MajelR: It's shot in North America. But, it's shot in Toronto. So, you're right,it's not American but it's the same hemisphere.
Nelson: It looks rather futuristic...
MajelR: Toronto? I'll be darned. Okay.
Nelson: LOL. The buildings and architecture lend themselves to the work. How isit working up there?
MajelR: It's lovely working up there. The people are extremely cooperative. Thegovernment, ... well, they're downright consuming. They give us things fornothing. They help us every time we turn around. Everyone is very cooperative.The crews are great. It's cold. LOL!
Nelson: Oh, Canada!
MajelR: My only complaint!
TICO: ARE THERE ANY PLANS FOR A FINAL CONFLICT MOVIE?
MajelR: Oh my! Not yet. LOL! We're still struggling with the series.
Nelson: When you do it, get Roma downey to be an alien.
serene: How did Earth Final Conflict come to be made? Was it after yourhusband's death? and if so was he finished with it when he passed away?
MajelR: He was finished with the pilot. It didn't get made because he had to goto work directly on the first Star Trek movie.
MajelR: But, it was a definite GO at Twentieth Century Fox back in 1977. It waswritten in '76.
Nelson: And what year was the story originally set?
MajelR: In the near future.
MajelR: It will always be the "near future." No matter what year youwatch it, it will always be the near future.
Nelson: LOL. LOL.
MajelR: Think of it as six to eight years from whenever you see it.
horus: what will the merchandising be for Final Conflict? As big as Trek's?
MajelR: I certainly hope not.
MajelR: We would like to make it a quality affair all the way around. It will beavailable by the first of the year, hopefully. And, from there forth.
nojoke: Do you think EFC was ready to be shot, in his opinion? Or was it anearly draft?
MajelR: It was about two weeks away from shooting at the time that Gene said wehave to put it on the back burner, because I have to take over Star Trekimmediately.
MajelR: so, perhaps that's not a FINAL final, but as close to a final asanything can get. We did change some things but it was mainly stuff to bring itup to date because 20 years had passed.
MajelR: The only thing that could happen to us now would be for real aliens toland tomorrow. And, then become overnight, ... we become an overnight breakingnews story.
Nelson: You know, sci fi aside, there are some things about Majel BarrettRoddenberry which we are simply....DYING TO KNOW.
MajelR: uh oh.
Nelson: Everybody says uh oh!
Nelson: They're just ten harmless questions that require ten, short, honestanswers.
Nelson: 1) What's your favorite piece of jewelry than you own?
MajelR: Hmmm .... I don't think I HAVE a favorite. I buy junk jewelry so thatwhen I get tired of it, I can dispose of it and get some more.
MajelR: If I think of an answer to your question later, I'll throw it in. LOL!
Nelson: 2) What's the most extravagant way you pamper yourself?
MajelR: I keep my pool heated to 92 degrees all year round.
Nelson: That's a good one.
Nelson: 3) When doing laundry, do you bother to separate colors?
MajelR: While doing what??
Nelson: LOL. That answer's that.
Nelson: 4) What was the name of your favorite high school teacher?
MajelR: Oh my that was so many years ago!
MajelR: I think I'm having an early case of Alzheimers. I can't remember any ofmy ... I know the one that I liked! Her name was "Wunderlich." thatwas back in Cleveland.
Nelson: LOL. She could have gone further than a teachin career with a name likethat.
Nelson: 5) As a married couple, what was 'your' song?
MajelR: Oh wow.
MajelR: I hate when people ask me questions like this. Almost ANYTHING by"The Beatles." We loved "The Beatles."
Nelson: 6) Who wrote "The Shape of Things to Come"?
MajelR: Was that a book? LOL!
Nelson: H.G. Wells
Nelson: You only had eyes for Gene's work.
MajelR: Yes. Yes, I did. LOL!
Nelson: 7) Do you have any phobias?
MajelR: I'm not fond of heights. Therefore, not a real great flyer.
MajelR: but, I'm not afraid of anything particularly, except critics.
Nelson: None of them in Nelson's World.
Nelson: 8) Who threw the most swank party you've ever attended?
MajelR: (thinking ...)
MajelR: I wish you guys wouldn't ask me memory questions! all of a sudden,everybody I KNOW of!
Nelson: You have a lot of swank friends!
MajelR: I guess. To me they're swank.
Nelson: 9) How many hours of sleep do you average per night?
Nelson: 10) What do you find to be the sexiest quality in a man?
MajelR: LOL! His butt.
Nelson: A fitting end to a gluteus maximus round of DYING TO KNOW. LOL
FLAtRich: Majel, I think you ought to turn this around and ask Nelson the same10 questions!
Nelson: No time, FlatRich!
MajelR: I do, too! LOL! Okay, you're on! LOL!
Journ: Majel: I love Final Conflict! Do you have any plans to write either an SFor Trek novel?
MajelR: Oh my, no! I'm lucky I can sign my name to the bottom of a check.
Trekkie: Majel, you're the best! Did Gene leave a lot of other writing behindafter he passed away?
MajelR: He sure did!
MajelR: And, I hope you get a chance to see some of it. One project is called"Starship" and hopefully, will be to you in the form of an animatedhour series in the near future.
Nelson: That's exciting.
MajelR: the others I'm not free to talk to you about yet.
sally4th: Do you get royalties from every Star Trek show?
MajelR: I better!! LOL!
Nelson: Majel, what are you going to do for the THanksgiving holiday?
MajelR: Cook dinner for 12 people!
MajelR: I love it.
Nelson: You're one Christmas tree short, otherwise all of your guests could havetheir own.
MajelR: That's true. Would you like to come over, bring it, and decorate it?
Nelson: I'll be over first thing in the morning.
Nelson: While Majel ponders a way to rescind that invitation, let me tell youwhat's coming up next week on Nelson's World.
Nelson: Our lineup includes outrageous tv personality Rhonda Shear...
Nelson: The legendary Steve Allen....
Nelson: And, popular actor Ron Perlman, currently appearing in...
MajelR: "Alien Resurrection."
MajelR: I saw it today. DON'T miss it!!
Nelson: Are you a tough critic about sci fi work?
MajelR: To a certain degree. I'm not as much of a critic as I am an appreciator.
MajelR: I just ... I like most everything. At least, I'll watch most anything.Afterwards, it may not be the most fun I've had, but it was a pleasant way tospend an hour and a half. I could be home doing dishes.
Nelson: Well, to say "it's been a pleasure" would be anunderstatement. nelson's World has REALLY enjoyed having you here onThanksgiving eve. Thank you so much for coming in!
MajelR: Thank you for having me, Nelson. You've been charming.