Dave Rossi Admits To Being 'A Big Geek'By Michelle
June 1, 2005 - 9:17 PM
"Bittersweet is a good word. I don't know what I expected from Paramount, but it seemed like so little fanfare for a show that did so much for the studio over the last 18 years," said Dave Rossi of the final days of Star Trek: Enterprise. Rossi, who worked in the Star Trek franchise for 14 years, moving up from production assistant to associate producer, explained that he grew up a fan and got his start at Paramount because of friends made at a science fiction convention.
"I was a tour guide for about 10 months, working in the company store selling cigarettes and gum. Then an opening for a production assistant happened on Star Trek: The Next Generation," he told StarTrek.com. "When we first started filming I remember the first set I saw lit was Engineering and everyone else was in Sickbay shooting; they were getting ready to move into Engineering. So I was there in Engineering, all alone holding a stack of call sheets, I was just stunned. I remember thinking, Oh my God, I'm here in Engineering!"
Rossi made no attempt to play it cool about being "a big geek": "Captain Kirk's serial number? SC 937-0176 CEC!" he recited proudly from memory. "I have pictures of me when I was 8 years old dressed as Captain Kirk...I had one of those old, flat tape recorders where you push the buttons down and I recorded probably 50 of those episodes onto cassette tapes and whenever my family went on vacation I would take them with me. My brothers and sisters hated me for it." Warned not to brag about his fannish knowledge when he interviewed at Paramount, Rossi did not mention that his high school and Air Force yearbooks were signed "To Mr. Star Trek."
One of his favourite memories, from his time as Rick Berman's assistant, is the fact that he inadvertently created the Bajoran nose when makeup supervisor Mike Westmore gave him plaster casts of noses to bring Berman for approval. Rossi did not realise that the clay noses would be molded by the strap on his bicycle pack. "When I got back to Mike's office and took the strap off, it was just a mess," he recalled. "I was terrified...he berated me and said he was going to have me fired. I was totally deflated. Then he said, 'I'm just kidding.' And he took out this little tool and, where the bike strap had made some weird indentations on the nose and Mike sculpted them back, and used some of them." So Rossi returned with the nose to show Berman - without the bike strap - and the reformed nose ended up being used for the Bajorans.
Most of his favourite episodes are from The Next Generation, which was his first experience working in Hollywood, though he had some ignominous moments such as slamming Jonathan Frakes (Riker)'s fingers in a stage door. But there were other thrilling events, such as being taken out to lunch by his childhood hero William Shatner (Kirk) in gratitude for helping provide walk-on roles and scripts for auction for Shatner's charity horse show.
Most of his work on Enterprise, noted Rossi, was with the second unit, which takes care of "all the little snippets that you don't shoot while you are filming an episode." He ran the tapes for meetings to determine which minor shots were needed, such as a hand pressing a button, and generated memos so that the shoot could be put together. On the day of the shoot he would assist the director, "who 99 times out of 100, was Dan Curry", so that the close-ups of consoles and the like could be inserted into the episodes.
Rossi said that he was certain that Star Trek would return: "Aside from it being a huge creative canvas to play with, it's a solid business thing for the studio," he noted. "I just hope it's something good." The full interview, which includes Rossi's non-Star Trek interests (comics and games), is at StarTrek.com.