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Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Zefram Cochrane Statue



This account of the history of the Zefram Cochrane statue is by Doug Drexler

Star Trek: First Contact was the high point for the Next Gen series of features. It had a lot going for it, including plenty of action, our favorite villains, humor, and one of the great historical Trek characters, Zefram Cochran. One of my favorite moments, is when the ever enthusiastic Geordi LaForge gushes to Cochran about his statue, which will one day tower over the site they are standing on.

While working on the color version of the Star Trek Encyclopedia with Mike and Denise, it occurred to me what a cool thing it would be to include a picture of Cochran’s statue. M & D enthusiastically agreed, and I went directly to the art supply on Laurel Canyon, picked up an armature, some roma plastilina, and got to work. By the end of the day, there it stood. I had based it on Levar’s descriptive pose, and added some plans to the crook of Cochrans arm. The final touch was to adapt Picard’s distinctive two finger “engage!” point, as if our erstwhile captain was invoking this very statue each time he gave the order for the great starship to go to warp.

Fast forward to “Enterprise”. Right there in the series bible, it says that the ship’s captain, Jonathan Archer, idolizes Zefram Cochran. What a great bit of set dressing for Archer’s quarters the sculpture would make. I packed it in my bag, brought it with me to Paramount the next day, and set it prominently on top of my computer monitor.
I’ve learned a lesson working with strong willed, and independent creative people. Never push an idea, let them come to it themselves. Jimmy Mees, our brilliant set decorator was one of those guys. So I bided my time. I knew that on the day Rick Berman inspected the dressed sets, Jimmy would rush into the office wide eyed, looking for appropriate, and last minute set dressing.

On the day, my buddy Jim Vanover, ace Okudagram animator said, “hey Dougie, why don’t you give the Cochy to Jimmy Mees for Archer’s quarters?” I smiled, looked at my watch, and counted down, “3…2…1.” The door to the office banged open, and there stood Mr. Mees with that hunter’s look. His eyes darted around the office in search of prey. “I need last minute, inspired, additional set dressing for Archer’s quarters! Make it quick, ’cause Berman is on his way over to stage 8!” “Hmmmmmm…” I said, raising my arm and pointing at nothing in particular. Jimmy’s eyes snapped to where I indicated. “What? Where?” Playing it for maximum drama, I slowly rotated a full 360, pointing all the way. Jimmy’s head followed like a dog glued to a treat. “Could you … use… a statue… of ARCHER’S… HERO…….. PERHAPS?” My pointing finger came to rest on the sculpture. Jimmy eyes popped out of their sockets. “PERFECT! GENIUS!” he snatched up the Cochy and made for the stage, leaving behind a cloud of dust. Vanover looked at me with admiration. “You’re good!” He said.

A little later, I’m standing in the art department kitchenette, cleaning someone else’s peanut butter off of my coveted bread knife for the eighteenth time. Jimmy Mees walks into the department looking quite pleased with himself. “Well, that couldn’t have gone better!’ He beamed. “Oh, and Doug, when Berman saw that statue of Cochran he was astonished! He said… Where did you ever find THAT?!”

He, hee, heeee! I squealed (on the inside), puffing my chest out, I awaited my accolades. “I told him I sculpted it!” grinned Jimmy. ; )

Doug Drexler

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