Ten Forward: Dan Madsen: Star Trek's Fan Communicator
Date Published: October 14, 2007
Although Dan's career goal was to be an actor - and he has appeared in Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace (in a George Lucas requested cameo as Jar Jar's Kaadu handler) and in Free Enterprise, or numerous commercials for stores like JC Penny - he was inspired by Star Trek to start a newsletter to help promote the show. Instead of his pay, Dan took a job with a local printer to learn the business and to print his Star Trek newsletter. The newsletter was enjoyed by Gene Roddenberry who would read each issue. Dan was able to get interviews with Leonard Nimoy and provide real news in his unofficial newsletter, which he wrote and published. In the early 1980s, Dan would receive a phone call that would change his life and improve the fan experience for Trekkies around the world.
It was Paramount Pictures calling. The phone call was ominous; Paramount Pictures wanted Dan to know that he could not write the newsletter as Star Trek was copyrighted. Dan told them that he wasn't making money, rather it was costing him money! He was merely trying to help the show and movies. Paramount knew this, and then because of what they called his proper mix of "fanaticism and professionalism" he was being offered the license to the run the Official Star Trek Fan Club. At Paramount and Roddenberry's request, Dan accepted. The Star Trek Fan Club would eventually have nearly 105,000 subscribers, offering exclusive products, news, and for fans the most amazing collection of articles and information. Dan's Fantastic Media company would eventually employ over 100 people to help create the issues and provide collectibles to fans.
During its 25 years, the Star Trek Comunicator would provide fans with information about films, actors, collectibles, and trivia. Dan's Star Trek Communicator is the example for the modern television or film publications, which are now standards of the media industry. Most importantly, for fans, Dan and his team provided us with a variety of articles that really helped us feel connected to Star Trek. Fans were often the feature of articles. With issue #150, many of Star Trek's actors and writers told why they think Dan and the Star Trek Communicator are important. From William Shatner to Rick Berman, the Star Trek Communicator is praised. Harve Bennett writes that Dan and his editor Larry Nemecek were artists. Tim Russ asks, "Where would the Trek world be without Star Trek Communicator?" Jeri Taylor assures us that Dan and his editor Larry Nemecek "have contributed significantly to this enduring phenomenon." One of the best stories that Dan tells is how one day President Bill Clinton's secretary Betty Currie called to order from the Star Trek Communicator for the President. What was Bill's order? Star Trek boxer shorts. The Star Trek Communicator is American media or cultural history.
The future is bright
for Dan Madsen. His film screenplay, co-written with former colleagues
of Matt Roloff from TLC's Little People, Big World, is being considered
by Disney. Short Story is a romantic comedy about a “little person” and
a person of normal height. Dan is also excited about 2009's Abraham
Lincoln 200th birthday Celebrations. He is very supportive of 2008's
Star Trek film. He is featured in the documentary The Force Among Us a
positive film about Star Wars fans (www.theforceamongus.com). Dan is
also negotiating with CBS/Paramount to bring back to Trekkies the
Official Star Trek Fan Club, this version a more interactive
organization. It features all the best of the previous endeavor with
modern technologies. When fans learned at a recent Star Trek convention
of the negotiations, the excitement was very real. Some fans wanted to
sign up immediately. Others wanted to know how to help encourage
CBS/Paramount to support the notion of the Star Trek Fan Club. Dan
Madsen is the chronicler of Star Trek. Let us hope he also helps with
the future of Star Trek. The greatest compliment I could offer about Dan
Madsen is that he is a Star Trek fan.