Inside Star Trek 10: Visiting the sound stages, meeting the music editor

Inside Star Trek was a semi-official newsletter, published under the guidance of Gene Roddenberry. This connection gave the writers access to the actors, production crew and sets.

I own the complete run:

  • Issues 1 to 12: Inside Star Trek, edited by Ruth Berman
  • Issues 13 to 24: renamed Star Trektennial News, edited by Susan Sackett
  • Issues 25 to 31: again called Inside Star Trek, edited by Virginia Yable

Here are highlights from issue 10, published in the spring of 1969.

The cover of Inside Star Trek issue 10, with a drawing of the Enterprise from below, done by Andrew Probert in 1969.

I hate to say it, but issue 10 is a letdown. It offers only two articles: a one-pager penned by the series’ music editor and a partial reprint from the fanzine ST-Philes. It’s possible that little work went into the issue because the writing was already on the bulkhead about the series’ cancellation; that certainly feels true when reading this issue.

The newsletter opens well with a pithy response from editor Ruth Berman to a fan question: “Does Mr. Spock have any brothers or sisters?” Berman’s response: “No.”

Take that, Sybok!

Season 3’s unknown music editor

Page 3 is an article written by music editor Richard Lapham — and I was intrigued. I had never heard of Lapham, and it turns out that is hardly surprising. He has no entry on or Memory Alpha, is not mentioned in The Fifty-Year Mission (Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman), and the only reference to him in These are the Voyages, Season Three (Marc Cushman) is a quote taken from this newsletter. 

However, he had a busy career. In addition to being the music editor for all of TOS season 3, he filled the same role on 24 episodes of The Brady Bunch, 53 episodes of The Odd Couple, 83 episodes of Knight Rider, and he was the uncredited supervising music editor on the cinema classic Airplane!

So, this looks exciting. A production person who is largely unknown today, writing about the original series. Sadly, Lapham really has nothing to say, although his piece does start off with promise:

As Music Editor on such an intellectually appealing and entertaining show as Star Trek, I was granted the opportunity to help add a stimulating and creative sensitivity to the mood already established by Gene Roddenberry and his staff.

Okay, again, I am intrigued. How do you do that? 

I run the picture with the producer, after it is edited to the satisfaction of Gene Roddenberry, and get an overall feel of the picture and its mood. The next step for me is to run this picture again, analytically, in a moviola (a machine that contains a small picture screen and a sound head) and decide which scenes should have music and the mood of the music to be played for the particular scene… The first six or seven episodes are composed by specially hired composers, and it is from this music that I choose the musical moods for the subsequent episodes. Once the mood is chosen, I must edit, in detail, this music with other musical pieces to create a new and original score to match the atmosphere and action of each individual story. 

And that’s all Lapham shares with us. Music is critical to the drama, emotion or comedy of countless scenes, so this leaves many great questions unanswered. How challenging is it to make scenes feel fresh when working with recycled music? What was the toughest scene for you? Which piece of music is the most versatile? Are there any scores that are so specific to a moment that you really can’t use them again? Did you have any influence on the commissioned music? What music did you bring in that had not been written for Star Trek?

Editor Ruth Berman didn’t get Lapham to answer any of those questions. He remains entirely unknown to fandom, so it is unfortunate she did not do more to highlight Lapham’s work. 

This great little film shows the workings of a Moviola editing machine.

A still from a short Moviola documentary, showing a person threading film into the machine.

Touring the TOS stages 

The last entry is a rambling article detailing a set tour. The article has no headline or byline, and reading the issue you first wonder why the sound editor is suddenly wandering the studio. At the end of the piece, a small notice informs the reader “This article reprinted from ST-Phils by permission of the author.” (Yes, “ST-Phils.” Again, this issue feels like it was thrown together with little effort.)

Some digging reveals the article originally appeared in ST-Philes issue 2, and was titled Where It’s At, written by K. Anderson. It was first published in November 1968 and therefore retains the Desilu numbering system, detailing a visit to Stages 10 and 9, later renamed by Paramount to Stage 32 and Stage 31 after it bought Desilu in 1968. 

Anderson tells us Stage 10 is where “some of the episodes taking place on the surface of the planet are filmed indoors.” Memory Alpha confirms it was used for planet exteriors, non-Enterprise locations, and the shuttlecraft interior set. Reportedly, Citizen Kane and Chinatown were also shot there.

Anderson then walks over to Stage 9. It housed all the Enterprise interior sets, and is therefore a sacred site for TOS fans. Paramount’s page dedicated to Stage 31 offers a floor plan and the information that it was also the site for Forrest Gump, Wayne’s World 2 and the series Little House on the Prairie and Becker (which starred Terry Farrell.)

The article ends with a depiction of the silence that drops over the huge space when filming begins. Here are the sentences that close out the piece, plus scans of the entire article. (Clicking the images below will open a new tab with a large file.) The reprinted article will continue in issue 11 of Inside Star Trek.

With the one long ring of the distant-sounding bell [to signal filming is starting], all the noisy confusion of talking, paper rattling, squeaking of chairs, and thrumming of air conditioner fans ceases. There is abruptly the sort of intense, ringing silence that is encountered in caves. It seems incredible that a huge room full of forty to sixty people and all sorts of mechanical equipment could be so quiet. They’re not only is no talking by people off the set, no one moves at all. The operation of the camera is noiseless; there is no sound of film moving and the only indication that it is in operation is a small blinking light. The boom mike swoops about as silently as an owl. In the consuming silence the sound of the actors’ dialogue and actions seem curiously lost. It all seems a bit spooky, and it is a relief when the two short rings signal all-clear.

Inside Star Trek is an invaluable source of early Star Trek voices. I’ll cover each issue. Click here to read other articles in this series.

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