Author, Screenwriter & EditorBoard Game- & Web-Designer
www.imdb.com & www.linkedin.com
In the summer of 1988, I attended a Star Trek convention in Denver CO. Anyway, a supporting cast member had just finished his talk, and the MC was warming up the crowd for a big-name, I think it may have been Leonard Nimoy, and asked the audience who they'd like to see at next year's convention. The obvious names, Shatner and Stewart (now "Sir Stewart"!!!), etc., were all called out. And then someone called out, "Will Wheaton!" The crowd went berserk, and not in a good way. After at least a minute of cat-calls, the MC got the crowd under some semblance of control, and said something to of the effect of, "Yeah, right. What do y'all think would happen the moment Will Wheaton took the stage and opened his mouth?" Swear to Murphy, the audience replied in one, very loud voice, "Shut up, Wesley!"
So, I wrote a spec script for Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Yellow Alert", which can be found at James's Writings, to try put a more humble and less annoyingly perfect face on Wheaton's character. ST hadn't dealt much with drug addiction ("Mudd's Women" certainly didn't count!), and I thought this was a perfect vehicle to talk about the pressure young people are under today, or rather then--I remember stories at the time about parents doing crazy things to get their children into the right pre-school so that their children would be able to get into a good college!
I flew out to Hollywood for a week and pounded the streets looking for an agent who would take “Yellow Alert” to Paramount--in those days the studios wouldn’t accept unrepresented teleplays. On the last day of the week, I found an agent who was willing to represent me and “Yellow Alert”--he told me he’d never represented a teleplay writer, much less a sci-fi teleplay writer, but wanted to expand his client-base.
I took another trip to Hollywood a year later, because my agent hadn’t heard back from Paramount regarding “Yellow Alert” and couldn’t get anyone to return his calls. Long story short, I misrepresented myself onto the Paramount lot for three days and freaked the hell out Marina Sirtis who played Counsellor Troi (for those of you heathens who don’t know) and got Eric Stillwell, the show’s Script Coordinator, in a world of trouble. Fortunately, Eric took pity on me and explained why my agent hadn’t heard back from Roddenberry and crew and why “Yellow Alert” wasn’t going to be bought--turns out Gene Roddenberry’s middle name was Wesley, and if you pony up the $3.00 to read the teleplay, you’ll understand why Roddenberry wouldn’t be interested in “Yellow Alert”’s Wesley.
But the reason my agent’s calls weren’t being returned was that the 2nd season EP decided (or it was decided for him; I never learned which it was) he wouldn’t be returning for the 3rd season, and started letting specs pile up on his desk rather than reading them. When the 3rd season EP came on board, there was a pile of 110 specs waiting to be read. Mr. Stillwell told me “Yellow Alert” made it through three halving and into the top ten of the 110, none of which were produced. However, some of the writing staff felt so strongly about “Yellow Alert” that they talked the new EP into sending me a letter allowing me to submit future specs without representation, something almost unheard of at the time.
But while laying low on the Paramount ST:TNG lot during the days--I could have sat in the center seat, and would have if there had been a way to take a selfie back then--waiting for the right moment to accost Ms. Sirtis--again, pony up $3.00 and you’ll understand why she was my target--I was staying with a high school and college buddy and his wife in San Diego, and she was fascinated by the idea that I had written a spec teleplay, and on my next-to-last day there, pitched me an idea for another spec.
She and I collaborated on it by email for the next couple of months, and what resulted was “To Better the Instruction”, which I submitted to Paramount directly shortly after receiving the letter saying I could submit future specs without representation; it was rejected without comment.
A little after that, my roommate at the time asked me, “What if the Enterprise stumbled across a forgotten colony of Klingons?” and that was the inspiration for “veStaHneSwI'a'“, which is Klingon for “The Ultimate Warrior” and is what I probably should have entitled my third spec for ST:TNG. “veStaHneSwI'a“ was rejected without comment--I think it was probably the best of the four specs I ultimately wrote for ST:TNG.
Then in 1993, my wife and I were driving back to CO from Houston TX where my parents were living at the time over Thanksgiving weekend, and we wrote my fourth and final spec for ST:TNG, “A Sense of Purpose”. I wrote it in three days and submitted it, but the writing staff had already wrapped the seventh and final season of the show, and it was returned to me unread.
So, that’s how I unsuccessfully broke into the TV business.
Fast forward 20 years or so, and my wife is hooked on the Travel Channel’s ghost shows: Ghost Adventures, The Dead Files, and the like. Now, I’m a huge fan of Supernatural, and one of the big questions of that series is “Why?!?” As in, “Why are we, Sam and Dean, doing this shit?” (If I have to give you any further explanation this question, sorry, but you ain’t a member of my tribe.) So, after being forced to watch a few episodes of Ghost Adventures by my wife, I start asking myself, aside from a paycheck, why are these guys doing this show? From the very few episodes I watched, we don’t learn much about their motivations, so I asked myself “Why?”
And thus was born Project Ωmega, a show about a Catholic retired U.S. Army colonel who must deal with memories of his son's ritualistic murder and wife's suicide, as he, his brilliant experimental psychologist daughter, and a charismatic expert in the occult debunk paranormalists, search for the reason that his son was killed, and prevent the angel who guards Sheol from bringing about the End of Days.
While Project Ωmega won or placed in a number of contests, it was through Stage 32 that I got Ms. Meagan Culberson with Alta Global Media interested in the teleplay and series. Though I had pitched it many, many times without getting anyone's interest, I asked Ms. Culberson to read the teleplay's first ten pages, and she gave me a "Consider" for the teleplay and me as a writer based on them. Because she gave me two "Consider"s, I asked her to read the entire teleplay, and based on it she offered me a shopping agreement which I accepted--she is now shopping it to production companies, networks, and my dream cast for the show.
Maybe this time I will successfully break into the TV business. Who knows?
In the meantime, I've got five novels in the works. The one I'm currently focused on is The Order of the Brotherhood, even though I should be focused on Timeloop Trilogy: Book 1 - The Loops of Time because I've got it half written, and I've only got about an eighth of The Order of the Brotherhood written. But what can I say, I'm weak willed and stupid.
But I have to say, my real focus is the board game I'm developing based on Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog" short stories and pilot teleplay. I had the rules and all other necessary gaming material (playing board, cards, dice, etc.), developed before I signed a development contract with the Ellison estate on Thu 20 Feb 2020. The contract gives me two years to develop the game, but with Covid-19, it's been very difficult to play-test the game. So, I'm struggling to develop a web-based version of the game, and have made considerable progress, but there's still quite a bit of work to do.
So that's my story as a creative.
As for for my life aside from writing and developing games, I have an MS in Physics (Experimental High Energy) from Kansas State University, an MA in Philosophy (Rational Choice Theory and Ethics) from the University of Kansas, and I'm a PhD candidate in Physics (Experimental Neutrino) at Idaho State University.
I live in Chubbuck ID with my wife, Junell, and assorted animals:
Junell and Sadie
(Sadie is no longer with us.)
Cocoa and Charlie
(9 months and 2 years - Feb 2023)
Rowena and Mac
(1 year old - Nov 2022)
Kai Winn, Kira, Jadzia and Ezri