So here's the deal... this book is just like most athlete and entertainer autobiographies. It's a quick read with candid stories of moments only the fans love. Because of Meyer's extensive writing history, it's definitely a more cerebral read than your average celebrity memoir, but you can still read the entire thing in a one night setting, especially if you flip through to the movies that interest you the most. So yeah, it's not a bad book at all, but like most of these types of books, it's probably not worth buying until the price drops dramatically or you find a good deal on a used version.
Meyer writes about his early life (which I admit, I skipped), and then dedicates most of the book to each of his life's projects. The cover advertises his most famous movies -- Star Trek II and VI -- and was admittedly the reason I bought it to begin with, but he does have some fun memories with other projects as well. Some of the efforts/chapters he covers:
-- Time After Time. An underrated time travelling drama and Meyer's first big directorial debut. Probably the best part of this chapter is his stress in dealing with Hollywood as a new director. The Hollywood brass tried to push him around more than usual because of his rookie status but he stuck by his guns, and thought that his career was over because the bosses claimed his movie stunk. Of course, since when have the Hollywood execs ever known what a quality movie was and it's fun reading about the "egg on your face" reaction from the suits as the film started receiving great praise after initial screenings.
-- Star Trek II. He confesses that he was a total amateur to the Star Trek world, but somehow managed to make what many consider the best Trek film ever made. The first film was an expensive boring dud although it did make enough money at the box office to spawn a sequel. With a much smaller budget, Meyer talks about his attempts to bring the swashbuckling aspect back to Star Trek. The film also spawned a lifelong friendship with Ricardo Montalban, a highly underrated actor, and Meyer has great stories about trying to direct Montalban. Like most Trek films Meyer seemed to be involved in, there was a script floating around that no one was happy with. Meyer quickly wrote the final screenplay, and also faced death threats from Trekkies as rumors of Spock's death spread.
-- The Day After. I wasn't aware that Meyer directed this controversial TV mini-series about a realistic nuclear war. Even at a small age, I still remember the controversy around it. (My parents wouldn't let me watch it because of graphic portrayals of nuclear fallout.) Meyer talks about his fights with TV censors about even basic sideplot elements such as the lady who buys birth control. For odd reasons, the network censors also tried to delete his scenes about EMP (electromagnetic pulses) side effects and other scientific fact. Meyer spent most of his time fighting to include the deadly effects of a nuclear war in the mini-series because that's what he felt the entire project was about and even admits it was a mediocre drama. It's not surprising that so much crap was produced by network television until the last 20 years. He talks about the alleged influence this project had on Ronald Reagan who discussed it in his own autobiography. I guess it took a movie to influence a former movie actor.
-- Star Trek VI. Meyer refused to make the film at the unrealistic low budget he was first offered, and the film was almost canned, but a last second shake-up in Paramount management allowed it to go forward. He talks about writing Christopher Plummer's Klingon character with Plummer specifically in mind the entire time he wrote the screenplay. He talks about fights with Leonard Nimoy who took the production process very seriously, especially since Nimoy had experience with Trek and other film productions. He also reveals that they tried hard to bring back Kirstie Alley in the role of Savvik again to play the role that Kim Catrell eventually took over as a Vulcan traitor. He also reveals how he saved the final scene for last in the filming process because it was a good-bye both on and off the screen, but it didn't go well as every actor was anxious and ad-libbed their dialogue knowing it was their final scene in Star Trek.
-- Other projects: Volunteers, The Deceivers, Company Business, Vendetta, Sommersby, Star Trek IV, etc... Either as a writer, director or both, Meyer offers segments to all of his films. He covers everything from his bond with Pierce Brosnan after both lost their wives to cancer to his screenplay that saved Star Trek IV. He had hits and misses and eventually Hollywood stopped offering him director seats after a long hiatus which is a shame because I thought a lot of his scripts were ruined by directors who took them in different directions. Right now he's working on a Theodore Roosevelt epic directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio which will hopefully put Nicholas Meyer on the map again because in my opinion, he's an underrated talent.