GOOD MORNING: Hitch your wagon to a star — as in “Star Trek.” Yet another offspring is taking off from the successful big and small screen “Treks”– a $50 million investment,”Star Trek: The Experience,” which is a joint venture between Paramount Parks and the Las Vegas Hilton. What is the “Experience”? I asked Paramount Parks’ Hugh Darley, executive producer of the project, says it’s the first of the company’s non-park attractions. They have five parks: King’s Island, King’s Dominion, Canadian Wonderland, Carowinds and Raging Waters. The company is a unit of Blockbuster Entertainment, all part of the Viacommunity, which of course includes Paramount Pictures, “Star Trek’s” alma mater. The “Experience” will be built in special frontage of the Hilton Hotel’s North Tower — adjacent to the lobby and a new casino. The 22-minute-long attraction will “beam” visitors into the 24th century, onto the starship Enterprise, creating “a living experience in Deep Space Nine.” There’s a motion simulator, post-show promenade with interactive videos, virtual reality stations — and, of course, merchandise stops, restaurant and an exit toward the casino … Will actors from the series and/or movies be involved vocally or visually? Darley says, “Paramount is now negotiating with (actors) for ‘The Next Generation’ and it depends how those negotiations go.” However, “Star Trek: TNG” exec producer Rick Berman, plus its writers and production designer Herman Zimmerman, are developing “The Experience’s” storyline and settings — which can change through the years. Landmark Entertainment Co. is producing the show’s components. Ducats will be “under $10” and 1,200 people can experience each “beaming.” At that rate, how long will it take to recoup the $50 million investment? They aren’t worried — there are more than 1 million “registered” Trekkers. Groundbreaking’s Jan. 24, and opening’s skedded for March 1997. Mesdames and messieurs, faites vos jeux.
JAMES MICHENER AND — MERV GRIFFIN Entertainment are teamed on a (boutique) feature version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s short story, “Revenge!” Ernie Chambers, senior VP of Griffin Entertainment, met with Michener (88) at his Austin, Texas, home to seal the deal. The yarn’s about Michener’s tempestuous, lifelong relationship with one of the world’s greatest art collectors, Albert C. Barnes. It’s highly dramatic, also humorous, with roles for two great actors. Griffin and Chambers also are readying reality-based TV shows, plus live entertainment — including musical touring packages. You know who could step in on one of those — at a moment’s notice — if needed … Randy Spelling (17) makes his “Beverly Hills, 90210” acting bow Jan. 3, then his NBC “Malibu Shores” stint, as a “Valley dude” (!), in mid-January. Randy says his parents were shocked when he said he was starting acting lessons (coaching from Katherine Daley for eight months). But Aaron reminds me, “It’s a tradition, I started as an actor, too.” Sister Tori says Randy “is very natural.” She’s completed four telepics this year … Patty Duke’s playing an even more menacing villain than she did in “The Bad Seed” in “Mommy,” a direct-to-video thriller for Eagle Entertainment co-starring “The Exorcist’s” Jason Miller and “Star Trek’s” Majel Barrett … Personal manager Eddie Goldstone is recuping after quadruple-bypass surgery at Cedars-Sinai … Katie and Roy Thinnes welcomed son Roy William III Nov. 26 at Cedars-Sinai. The family’s back here after Roy’s three years in N.Y. on “One Life to Live.”
FRIDAY’S WORLD AIDS DAY and the Improv’s the setting for a two-hour call-in program hosted by comedian-AIDS educator Suzi Landolphi and daughter Kyrsha Wildasin airing on Playboy TV, which will have four hours on AIDS awareness and safe sex … Entertainment Weekly’s next issue (on stands Friday) also marks World AIDS Day with seven pages of pix/bios on 120 (!) entertainment industryites who died of AIDS this year … No need to wish Ben Vereen “Break a leg” as he bows tonight in the N.Y. Paramount’s “Christmas Carol” as the Ghost of Christmas Present –“I already did that, it’s no fun” he reminds. It was a near-fatal auto accident Jan. 9, 1992, in Malibu. “This is the first time I can dance 100%,” he says of the Alan Menken-musicked “Christmas” show through Dec. 31. He heads out Jan. 3 on his concertour — bowing in Anchorage. Sounds to me like Vereen’s 100% … Richard Zanuck winged back from the Chi location of his thriller “Dead Drop” with Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman (Andy Davis directing) to host, with wife Lili Fini Zanuck, the AMC Santa Monica screening of his first Western, “Wild Bill,” plus dinner at the Buffalo Club. Zanuck admits, “I try to do something different every time — the fun I have is exploring new ground.” He’s got plenty of new ground also upcoming — the all-star “Mulholland Falls,” comedy “Stormy Weather,” “True Crime,” a clock-stopping murder mystery, and “Goodbye Saigon” set in the Vietnamese community of Westminster, directed by Bruce Beresford.