Diary

“Things were getting critical”

02 September 2009 | Diary

A glitzy showbiz tale from Leonard Nimoy’s incredible memoir, I am not Spock:

Within a month of Star Trek going on the air I had telephone problems. There was one phone on the sound stage and between cast and crew there were about 50 people receiving and making calls. I was getting calls for press interviews and personal appearances from all over the country. It wasn’t always possible for me to come to the phone because most of the time we were rehearsing and shooting. The message slips would pile up and when I got a break I would go to the phone and try to return some of the calls only to find people waiting in line. The next closest phone was a pay booth on the studio street outside the sound stage. This meant precious minutes wasted going to and from the pay phone and very often it too was occupied with people talking.

I spoke to the production manager about my problem and requested that the studio put a telephone into my trailer dressing room which was on the sound stage. He told me that he would pass on my request and I heard nothing about it for the next week. I raised the question again and was told that Herb Solow, head of TV production for the studio, was aware of my request and wanted to discuss it with me.

I assumed that this meant there was a financial question involved. There was no telephone deal in my contract. Therefore I would be required to pay for it myself. I decided not to bother Solow. He was a very busy man and this was a minor matter. I told the production manager that involving Solow would be unnecessary, I would pay for the phone myself.

Another week went by and I heard nothing. The situation was getting critical. Much of my phone business was to eastern cities. By the time I got finished with the day’s shooting it was far too late to get in touch with people on the East Coast.

I raised the subject again and once more was told that I would have to discuss it with Solow. He finally came to my dressing room to state his position. There were several actors on the lot who wanted phones. I could not be allowed to have one since it would set a precedent. Other actors would want to follow suit. “Herb,” I said, “there seems to be a breakdown in communications. I have already agreed to pay for the phone myself.” “I know that,” he answered, “but I can’t let you have the phone.” I asked him to explain. He said, “If the other actors find out you have it, they’ll want one. I’ll tell them you’re paying for it but they won’t believe me. There’ll be a lot of hard feelings.”

Eventually I was able to persuade Herb that the studio was losing money if I had to go to the pay phone while the studio waited for me. I got the phone and I paid for it myself.