Ron Wilkerson



Old News


About My Pal, Buffy:  It’s always so hard to say goodbye to a member of your family.  We took Buffy to the vet today for an ailment that we knew could be the end.  It was cancer, and pretty advanced, so we had to make that tough choice.  Buffy was at least fifteen years old, perhaps more because we never knew her actual birth date.  Read more about her HERE12.29.15


About Time!  Typed those words on a new screenplay today. Always feels so good, even though it's only a first draft. This script was an odd one, not really like anything I had done before. Kind of like a Frank Capra movie with a sci-fi twist. It was an idea that I fell in love with and wrote 60-odd pages. Got stymied by some plot and character beats, and closed the file. For FOUR years. Then, a month or so ago, in the midst of teaching another online class in screenwriting for UCLA Extension, I decided to take the advice I was giving my students at that time. I went back to the basics, wrote a new beat sheet for the story and fell in love with it all over again. Wish I could tell you what it's about, but I'm highly superstitious of doing that, at least until it's on the market. Just wanted you all to know that it's never too late to finish something you started.  10.24.15


About Site Updates:  I've been doing quite a few updates to this site as a result of the online screenwriting class I've been teaching for UCLA Extension this Spring Quarter.  So, if you look in the TV&Film section, there are new Story Structure Analyses of Titanic and The Verdict (featuring the guy on the left) -- two films that in my view stand up to repeated viewing.  I've also updated the Bands tab of the Music section to include more recorded music by Junior MinceThe Dukes of Soul and Bobby D's band.  Check them out!  06.03.15


About Musical Theater:  Well, she did it again. Another great musical theater production this past weekend, co-directed by my lovely and talented wife, Beverly. This year's production at St. Paul the Apostle school in Westwood was "Annie" with a cast of more than forty 4th - 8th graders, all lovingly choreographed (and costumed) by Beverly.  This pic only shows part of the cast. Congratulations, B!  Your productions get better and better every year!  04.19.15


About Golf Season:  I know that for many, the opening day of baseball season marks the true beginning of Spring.  For me, it's The Masters tournament.  The combination of the PGA's best players, on what has to be the most beautiful golf course in the world is just invigorating. Even if you're not into golf, the stunning beauty of this incredibly groomed golf course, and the calm professionalism of amazing players is, if nothing else, great background video for your weekend.  We may also be witnessing the beginning of golf's next superstar in the current leader, Jordan Spieth.  Tune it in.  And also visit my golf site www.breakmaster.com to see my own contribution to the game.  04.12.15


About Musicians and Non-Musicians: 
Dear Madonna, So sorry (not really) that you fell on you’re a** on stage last week. But maybe this wouldn’t have happened if, years ago, you hadn’t moved your band musicians off the stage and substituted them with your beefcake boy dancers.  As a musician, this has always bothered me as you've made the musicians second class citizens in your shows. Also, I’ve never heard of a musician pulling on the lead singer’s cape.  So it seems like you have only yourself to blame for looking like an idiot. 03.14.15


About Romance:  Happy Valentine's Day to all you lovers out there.  What would our world be without romance?  So glad that I've been joyously in love for over twenty years to my wonderful wife, Beverly.  Thought I'd share a little love by posting a link to the most romantic episode I've ever written for TV.  It was voted by Star Trek Online as one of the Top Ten Trek Romances.  It's called "Lessons" and it's available for those of you who have Netflix HERE.  I've also written an essay on the episode's development HERE.  Share the love, and enjoy.  02.14.15


About Online Teaching at UCLA Extension: If you missed getting into my class in Fall Semester, I'm going to be teaching it again in the Spring quarter.  You can read more about the class and register HERE.  This is an introductory screenwriting class at UCLA Extension, via their Canvas online program.  I've taught this class many times on the UCLA campus, and did so twice last year via the online program.  I've actually found the online class to be in many ways better for my students than the on-campus class, as there is more time to explore written lectures, screenplay pages and video examples.  I also conduct a once-weekly Office Hour which is an online (Skype-style) conversation with my students.  It's a great way to get to know each other and learn about our stories.  So, if you'd like to study with me, you can do it literally anywhere you have web access.  The class starts on April 8th and runs for 10 weeks to June 10th.  There are a number of different writing projects in the class, and I'll give you my feedback on your work.  The goal is to end up with an outline for a feature screenplay.  Register at the link above, or call the UCLA Writers' Program office at 310.206.1542310.206.154201.15.15


About Football:  After a week of football, I've gotta say that I've seen way too much of these guys. Penalties on nearly every play are ruining any enjoyment of the game. Football has become nearly unwatchable. Especially pass interference penalties that change the outcome of the game. Wouldn't it be fun if there were no such thing as pass interference? You catch the damn ball, then buddy, you've earned it!   01.05.15


Elevator Buttons:  If I ruled the world... I'd make it so that if you accidentally press the wrong elevator button, you simply have to press it again to cancel it. I mean, how hard is that? Instead, we have to stop at the wrong floor and get nasty looks from the other people we've inconvenienced on the elevator car. Life shouldn't be this difficult.   11.10.14


My Phone:  After living with it for a year, finally decided to use my Windows phone for more than phone calls, IMs and bad pictures.  Have to say it's pretty great for emails, however the interface with the Outlook Contacts list is really primitive.  Also started using the OneDrive cloud, and so far, so good.   08.30.14


The News:  Well, the prisoner exchange with the Taliban may not be all bad news... I hear through the grapevine that one of the freed prisoners has been signed by Creative Artists Agency, and is in negotiations to play a major role in an upcoming Popeye reboot.  Stay tuned! 06.10.14


Kids Musical Theatre: Congrats to my amazing wife Beverly on her co-directing the fantastic production of Disney's Peter Pan at St. Paul The Apostle School in Westwood.  This year's production, in the works since last September, is truly spectacular with a huge cast of over 60 kids as fairies, pirates, mermaids, indians and lost boys, not to mention Peter and all the Darlings.  Great performances by the kids (3rd through 8th grade) and the smiles on their faces reveal how they've been touched by being a part of something truly wonderful.  The costumes, also done by Beverly, look great on stage with each group of performers establishing their own color motif.  And the costumes look way better on stage than they did taking up our dining room! The final performance is tonight, so if you're in Westwood, come on by.  You won't be disappointed 05.10.14

Online Teaching at UCLA Extension: I'm going to be teaching an introductory screenwriting class at UCLA Extension, via their online courses.  So, if you'd like to study with me, you can do it literally anywhere you have web access.  The class starts on April 16 and runs for 10 weeks.  There are a number of different writing projects in the class, and I'll give you my feedback on your work.  The goal is to end up with an outline for a feature screenplay.  I've taught this class a number of times on the UCLA campus, but this is the first time I've done it online, so it should be a fun experience.  It's a limited enrollment, so, if you're interested, get in soon.  Hope to see you there.  Here's the link to the online description and registration for the class:  https://www.uclaextension.edu/Pages/Course.aspx?reg=245610 UPDATE 04.02.14: The class is full and, therefore, closed to new students.  Stay tuned, I'll probably be teaching it again in the fall.  03.04.14


Those GEICO Ads: OK, so the gecko's cute and all, and the ads are generally more clever than most.  But did you ever wonder... If GEICO did a little less TV advertising, that maybe they'd be able to save you MORE than 15% on car insurance? 02.03.14



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01.15.14


About Inequality:  What’s with all this discussion of Income Inequality?  What really bothers me is Football Inequality.  Why should teams like the Patriots, Colts and 49ers get to go to the playoffs every year while my Buffalo Bills sit at home?  That’s so unfair.  Buffalo fans would like their team to be in the playoffs, too.  I say we should start taking touchdowns away from the teams that have so many and redistribute them to the truly needy -- teams like Buffalo, Cleveland and Houston.  And why should we stand by and watch Peyton Manning have so many passing yards and others have so few?  After all, what’s Manning gonna do with all those yards?  Does he really need that many?  It’s just not fair, and kinda greedy, too.  If he had any decency, Manning would give up those yards to other, less fortunate quarterbacks, so they could all be equal.  And why are there just 12 teams in the playoffs?  Every team should be there.  And every team should win the Superbowl this year, too, and all the players should get that nice shiny ring.  It would do a lot for their self-esteem.  Then we could all just have a nice day and go play some golf. Oh, yeah, and about that guy Tiger Woods...  01.11.14


My New Year's Resolution:  I've decided that I need to make 2014 all about self-improvement.  We can all be better, right?  So, this year I'm resolving to improve my golf game and drink a better grade of Cabernet Sauvignon.  I'm really hoping that this is a resolution that I can keep.  01.01.14


My Favorite Treks:  What are your favorite Star Trek episodes?  I was recently interviewed by the nice folks at Trek Mate Family Network to do a "Desert Island Trek" list of five of my favorites.  Of course, if I really was on a desert island, I'd prefer to have an episode that would teach me how to build a boat.  But since there were none of those, I chose a bunch that I've loved over the years and would watch again in a heartbeat.  Tune in to the podcast and listen to the discussion of my Desert Island Trek List that includes "Balance of Terror," "The Tholian Web," and loads more.  Here's the link to the podcast. 12.20.13


Weird Fiction:  I recently read H.P. Lovecraft's essay, "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction."  Who better to take notes from than Lovecraft?   In one section, Lovecraft lists the authors who have inspired him, and one of those names is Algernon Blackwood.  Algernon?  Wasn't he a mouse?  No, that was the other Algernon.  This one is a writer of horror fiction bridging the last two centuries.  I have to confess, I've never read Blackwood's work before, but a good deal of it is available free on kindle and I'm finding it to be very entertaining.  Blackwood (from what I've read so far) specializes in ghost stories, and what makes him worth reading is the number of different approaches he takes to telling those stories, from possession to visitation, to dreams to  imagination to reincarnation.  Good, spooky fun, highly recommended by Lovecraft, and now, by me.  11.24.13


Better Vocabulary:   Ever since I got my kindle fire, now going on two years, I’ve been reading a lot of the popular fiction of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  My reading list has included writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Charles Dickens, James Fenimore Cooper, Lew Wallace, Jack London, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Zane Grey and, of course, H.P. Lovecraft.  One thing that continually strikes me about these writers is how much more articulate they are than writers of today. Most possess vocabularies that simply dwarf those of today’s popular fiction writers, which is a blessing and a curse.  But the best thing about the kindle library is that when encountering a word you don’t know (which happens to me a lot) simply highlight it and the definition is immediately displayed.  The second best thing about the kindle library, is that, because these writers’ works are in the public domain, their books are, for the most part, free.  And if not free, they are very inexpensive.  Let me know if any of these authors inspire you. 10.20.13


Head Slaps:
I’m a football fan. I’m even a fan when my team (the Buffalo Bills) is losing, which means I’m a fan a lot. What’s the big safety issue in football right now? Head injuries, specifically concussions. Both college and pro leagues are going out of their way to eliminate repeated head trauma resulting in concussions. But what do players and coaches do whenever a player does something well? Slap him upside the head! Brilliant. We’re going to reduce head trauma by repeatedly inflicting blows to the head every time somebody does well. The other genius move is mutual head butts. Look at these pics from last night’s USC/Notre Dame game. Even the coaches are doing it. How many times does a player do well in a game? Or in practice? Many, many times. And the reward for accomplishments in football is a slap upside the head. And not just one, sometimes it’s from half the team. We’re continually dumbing down the players, one congratulation at a time. And nobody ever says anything about it. Well, there is me. So, players and coaches… next time somebody does well, do them a favor. Slap ‘em on the ass.   10.20.13


College:   Seems like yesterday we were just congratulating Meredith on graduating from high school, and now we've sent her off to college.  This was a hard one for Beverly and me, but doesn't Meredith (here, at her new dorm) look thrilled?  It was fun to drive her up to her school in Northern California, and Beverly and I are really happy for her, but miss her badly.  The house is far too quiet at the moment, and our noisy dogs are no substitute.  Thanksgiving can't come soon enough.  08.17.13


My Trek Mate Interview: 
Did a lengthy interview last month with the UK Trek web site Trek Mate Family Network, and it was just posted to their web site.  This is the longest interview I've done, and if you can stand over an hour of me going off on various topics from writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation to my musical ventures to my novel Houdini & Lovecraft The Ghost Writer, this is the place for you.  Michael Clark, who conducted the interview at The Captain's Table in Ten Forward (actually via Skype), asked good questions and really got me going, which, depending on your POV is either a good or bad thing.  Best part is that, when editing the interview, they took out all of the times I took a breath.  So I sound slightly alien.  Anyway, I enjoy any opportunity to talk about Trek (what do I really think about the JJ-verse?), so check it out if you dare. HERE is the link to the interview.  07.07.13


Saturday's Gig:  Sure enjoyed playing music with Zuri at last night's gig at the benefit for the Eagle Wings of Enlightenment Center. A good warm (and very spiritual) crowd, and thankfully temperatures that cooled off in Pasadena by the time we started our outdoor set. Zuri was in fine voice, and we played a two hour set with lots of our favorite Soul/Blues/R&B songs.  Since I was the only backup, I had done a lot of programming this past month on my Motif synth/sequencer that handled the job of playing drums, bass, horns and strings (not as good as live musicians of course, but the upside is that the sequencer never complains about anything).  I played live keys and even sang a few.  But for a few glitches (bad mic cable, occasionally pressing the wrong button on the synth that's as complicated as the dashboard on a jet) it all went very well.  I sure love going to gigs and performing before a crowd that knows me only as a musician.  Zuri and I haven't played together enough since the tragic passing of our bandmate, Bobby D, and this gig gave us a good opportunity to get together again.  Hopefully, we'll be doing more of these in the future.  06.29.13


Commentary on "Lessons:"  My first commentary on a Star Trek The Next Generation episode was recently posted on the TrekFM web site.  Mike and Max (who do the site's commentaries) interviewed me a month ago, and here we converse about my ST: TNG episode "Lessons," how it came to be, and some of the inside stories that went along with its creation.  Good for Trekkers, of course, but also fun for anybody who wants to know some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into the creation and production of a TV episode.  What's fun is that the episode is available for streaming on Netflix, so you can start it in sync with the commentary and watch the episode with the sound off while Mike, Max and I talk about it.  HERE is the link to the commentary. 06.19.13


Our Daughter:  Many congratulations to our daughter Meredith on graduation from Notre Dame High School.  These past four years have gone by far too quickly.  Soon she'll be going off to college and our house will unfortunately be a lot quieter (and probably less interesting).  Beverly and I aren't really sure how we're going to handle the adjustment.  But we're so very proud of her accomplishments both in school and in life.  She is a remarkable person, and the world is a better place with her in it.  06.01.13


Ray Manzarek:  So sad to lose one of my musical heroes this week.  Ray Manzarek was the soul of The Doors. Of all the keyboard players I emulated, he was probably at the top of the list, especially at the beginning of my musical career. I learned all his parts off the first two Doors albums, note for note. I can still play most of them. He's one of the main reasons I play left-hand bass. He was a true original. Without Ray, nobody would have ever heard of Jim Morrison. 05.22.13


Justice:  OK, gotta admit that in the era of Big Brother, this one surprised me.  I beat a traffic camera!  Yes, I beat a traffic camera in court.  Last fall when we were in San Bernardino for one of Meredith's soccer tournaments, I apparently drove through a left turn arrow that had turned red.  A traffic camera caught me in the act.  Thought they had me cooked, right?  But I had photo evidence (supplied by the court) that showed the reason why I went through a red turn arrow.  There was a tour bus in front of me that obscured my view of the signal.  The last time I saw the signal (as I moved to enter the intersection) it was yellow.  I thought I was making a proper turn, even though, according the camera, I wasn't.  Anyway, I couldn't make the court date (San Bernardino is over an hour away), but was allowed to make my statement to the court by letter, as long as I first paid the $500.00 fine (ouch!).  But I sucked it up, paid the fine, and wrote a letter explaining to the judge exactly what happened.  This week, I got a letter from the court that "In the interest of justice" my case was dismissed.  Today, I received a check for $500.00!  So, there is justice after all in this world, or maybe I'm a better writer than I even think!  Thanks to the Superior Court of San Bernardino for realizing that human actions cannot always be judged properly by machines.  Sounds like an episode of Star Trek! 05.18.13


One Of My Favorite Bands:  I've been meaning to do more updates to the Music pages of this site, but other things always seemed to come up.  Finally got around to a story on Bobby D and the Mixx, musicians I played with for nearly twenty years until Bobby's tragic passing in 2008.  Bobby was one of those rare musical talents (like Buddy Holly, John Lennon and too many others) who left us long before their song was over.  I was privileged to play with him, and post our story here, so his memory can live on.  HERE's the link. 05.04.13


My Fabulous Wife, Beverly:  Many congratulations to Beverly for the production of Beauty and the Beast that she co-directed this past weekend.  The shows on Friday and Saturday nights played to packed houses and the large 40+ cast of kids (3rd - 8th grade) was just phenomenal.  Beverly is a wonderful director and choreographer, the performances she gets out of these kids is just amazing.  Her production of "Be Our Guest" even included a Busby Berkeley style pinwheel of forks, knives, and spoons.  Best part of all is to see the smiles on the faces of the kids and know that they've been touched by being part of this production.  04.13.13


The Mass Murderer Next Door:  In the wake of the horrible bombings in Boston, carried out by "seemingly normal" guys Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, I'd like to encourage you to read my essay (from last year) about my own encounter with a serial killer.  Lest we lull ourselves into a false sense of security that these guys are now out of business, the essay may serve as a reminder that other bad guys are out there, and it is up to those who know of them to take action and expose them to the proper authorities.  If we do nothing but look the other way, innocent people could be irreparably harmed.  In the end, it's not about the weapons these murderers use, it's about the individuals themselves, and the evil ideas that drive them.  And it's about us, and whether we're willing to take action.  HERE's the link to the essay 04.20.13


The Walking Dead:  Though they have title billing, the show is not really about zombies.  Sure, they appear in every episode as the looming threat, but what this show is really about is the living.  And it's not just about the survival of the living, but what each one of them is willing to do -- what moral compromises they are willing to make -- in order to survive.  And that's what makes it great drama.  HERE's my review. 04.03.13


Part II of My Interview on TrekFM:  The second part of my interview with Mike & Max of TrekFM was posted today.  This one is devoted to my new novel Houdini & Lovecraft The Ghost Writer, as well as some of the other writing projects I'm doing at the moment.  Except for the part where I name of the 1963 film "The Haunting" as the "The Shining" (which is, of course, Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film) I don't come off too badly.  If you're interested in learning about my novel, this is a good introduction.  HERE's the link to the podcast interview.  03.15.13


My Podcast Interview on TrekFM:  I was recently interviewed by the guys at Trek.FM for their podcast where they discuss the work of writers on Star Trek.  HERE's the link to the audio podcast. In Part I, which was posted today, we discuss some of the episodes I wrote for Star Trek The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager. In Part II, which will be posted next Friday, we discuss my novel, Houdini & Lovecraft The Ghost Writer. 03.07.13


The Post-Heroic Era: Now that we're through the film awards season, it's interesting to look back at the past year's crop of movies to see if we can detect any trends.  Lincoln should have raked in every award in sight.  Same with Zero Dark Thirty.  But, other than universal acclaim for Daniel Day-Lewis, neither Lincoln nor Zero Dark Thirty nor other films from the major directors won the big awards.  Why not?  I have an explanation.  HERE's my essay.   02.26.13 


Romance: Just in time for Valentine's Day... Star Trek Online voted my episode "Lessons" (Captain Picard & Nella Daren) as one of the Top Ten Trek Romances. It's #3 on the list, (behind only Riker & Troi and Kirk & The Enterprise).  Here's how they described it..."The new Stellar Sciences department head shared a passion for music and the two duet-ed on more than just the flute and keyboard. The challenges of running a starship and maintaining a relationship with an underling proved too difficult, and both parties' loyalty to Starfleet left audience members asking their replicators for a box of Kleenex." HERE's the link to their story.  With the amount of rejection writers get, it's always nice to revel in small victories.  If you'd like to read more about this episode, I wrote a review of how it came into being. 02.14.13


A Star Trek Inteview: I was recently interviewed by Treknobabble, a Star Trek fan web site that was curious about my work on Trek and other writing. The questions were really in depth, not just about Star Trek, but also got into the different aspects of writing and pitching for television.  If you're curious about my experiences with Star Trek The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Voyager, you should find it interesting.  Part 1 (which is posted) is about general Star Trek and writing questions.  HERE's the link to the interview. 01.21.13   Part 2 of the interview, which gets into more specific questions about my Star Trek episodes, was also just posted, and HERE's the link to that interview.  02.11.13 


Dreamland: Dreamland is the TV Project I'm writing about the Golden Age of Hollywood, seen through the experiences of Billy Wilkerson, the founder of The Hollywood Reporter.  Billy also founded the Sunset Strip with restaurants like Cafe Trocadero, Ciro's, and the Las Vegas Strip with the Flamingo hotel.  My partners on the project are Robert Cooper (from Stargate) and Billy Wilkerson's son, Willie Wilkerson.  HERE's a link to the story on the project that was leaked to Deadline Hollywood when the news broke last year.  In the meantime, HERE's a web site that tells you a little more about the project.  01.20.13