GOOD MORNING: “Trekkies” can light up another birthday candle today as “Star Trek: Voyager” celebrates its 100th seg for Paramount and UPN as it starts its fifth season. Co-creator and exec producer Rick Berman reminds it’s the third “Trek” show to pass the century mark: “Next Generation” went 178 segs in syndication in seven seasons, and “Deep Space Nine,” 125 episodes, also in seven seasons. Plus, there have been the feature films (and there’ll certainly be more of ’em). Asked about coming down to terra firma, Berman says he will alight in the next couple of months with features and TV series — on earth. But he assures he is not walking away from the “Stars” … Besides acting in his “Trek” role as Geordi La Forge, LeVar Burton is directing the 100th seg; he’s shooting the one-hour episode in eight days and admits, “It’s a miracle that they (Par’s troupe) can do it week after week.” He’s directed 15 segs in the three shows (“Next Generation,” “Deep Space 9” and “Voyager”). Meanwhile, Burton’s banner, Eagle Nation Films, pacted to Par, is preparing his feature script “Untitled Masters,” which he’ll direct but in which he will not appear. However, he plans to star in his banner’s “Jonsmith,” a dramatic hour-long TV series that he and Pam Long are readying … “I haven’t seen him (physically) in 35 years. We did a ’12 O’Clock High’ series segment together when I was a guest star,” said Bruce Dern of Burt Reynolds, with whom he costars in TNT’s original “Hard Time: Premonition.” Dern admits, “I wouldn’t have played the heavy in this one (a serial killer on Death Row), but I’d rather be a heavy for Burt than a hero for anyone else! He makes sure that the heavy you play is a three-dimensional and durable character. He roots for you.” David Cass directs the duo.
NATALIE COLE GOES DRAMATIC (and how!) in Showtime’s “Freak City.” She plays a singer whose career ended in a car accident and who is a resident in a special-care facility for challenged patients. The cast including Marlee Matlin, Jonathan Silverman and Samantha Mathis. Cole, who completed a weekend stand at the Hollywood Bowl, will sing in the vidpic, which is produced by Sandy Stern and directed by Lynne Littman, who won on Oscar for her docu, “Number Our Days” … Denise Nicholas, when a very young woman, participated in the Freedom Summer of 1964, a violent time for Civil Rights activists. She wrote a short story, “Before You Miss This Train,” about those days and read it recently at Book Soup. After the reading, Nicholas was signed by literary agent Faith Childs, who convinced her to turn it into a novel — which is now nabbing publisher and film interest … World-famous poster artist Michael Bedard has brought his wit and wisdom to his first book, “Sitting Ducks” (Putnam & Grosset), which shows how difficult personal relationships between different groups (ducks and alligators!) can be. Bedard won’t say — but the book’s characters are naturals for a series … Daily Variety alumnus Bill Daniels, now an attorney, has written his first book “Movie Money: Understanding Hollywood’s (Creative) Accounting Practices” (Silman-James Press) with co-author Steve Sills, known for unlocking studio vaults to the benefit of some of the town’s biggest stars with participating pacts … All profits from “The ‘Murder, She Wrote’ Cookbook” by Tom Culver and Nancy Goodman Iland — with recipes from the show’s stars, guestars and crew — go to Aid for AIDS. The first check ($2,000) was already presented … A video memorial put together by Shari Lewis’ daughter Mallory Tarcher is part of KCET’s tribute, at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 20 … Sorry to report that Dave Tebet, onetime senior VP of talent at NBC and longtime consultant to Johnny Carson, has suffered a major stroke. He is at home following treatment at UCLA Medical Center … Anita O’Day, near death a year ago when she was told she’d spend the rest of her life bedridden in a nursing home, has made a full recovery, sang her Gene Krupa hits at the Long Beach Amphi and, after one more major hand surgery, heads out on concert dates with Les Brown, whom she just met for the first time — at the dentist’s office!
UCLA’S LOT 32 WAS AGAIN transformed for a Hollywood preem, this time converted into a Malaysian marketplace for doings and delectable delights after the Mann’s Village screening of Polygram’s “Return to Paradise.” Co-stars Anne Heche, Vince Vaughn and Jada Pinkett Smith were on hand; Heche was with her “Psycho” director Gus Van Sant, as Ellen DeGeneres is on location in Mass. on “The Love Letter'” with Kate Capshaw and Gloria Stuart. Director Joseph Ruben, producers Alain Bernheim and Steve Golin and writer Wesley Strick also preemed … The National Actors Theatre production of “The Gin Game” heads out on a 14-city national tour in Oct. with Julie Harris and Charles Durning again co-starring for director Charles Nelson Reilly. The trio is also nominated for Emmys again this year — they also have 14 Tony nominations and three nods for Oscars to their credits … Fritz Coleman — NBC-L.A.’s weatherman, whose sensational sensahuma has to be seen and heard live in clubs — presents his show, “It’s Me! Dad!” at the Coronet, weekends, Aug. 14-Sept. 20 directed by Richard Kline. The show is being done in advance of a three-camera video of the act, which is Coleman’s explanation of himself to his children … Red Buttons observes: “Forget about Monica, there is something about Mary that should be investigated.”