During his time as DS9 writer and executive producer, Ira Steven Behr had been in contact with fans via AOL postings. An archive of these postings has been hosted on a Geocities page, which is about to be closed before the end of the year.
Because of this, Memory Alpha is hosting these postings, which were originally provided as .txt files, as-is. Below is the introductory paragraph of the archive page, followed by links to the individual postings. Please note that the posting pages are protected, and should not be edited.
Star Trek: Continuum Chat With Ira Steven Behr – Sept. 30, 1997
Welcome to STAR TREK CONTINUUM, the site for tonight’s chat with Ira Steven Behr. Ira, on behalf of STAR TREK CONTINUUM, I’d like to welcome you to our chat tonight…
Ira Behr: It’s great to be here!!!
STC: DJData19 asks: Are the rumors of DS9 character being killed during a Dominion attack founded?
Ira Behr: Yes. One of the recurring characters will not survive the retaking of the station. Instead of flowers, please send extra viewers.
STC: Greg_Magnus asks, Were you a fan of Star Trek when you were growing up?
Ira Behr: Yes. I don’t think I missed an episode of the original series. Though, like most fans I was disappointed with season three. I think the show that really won me over was “Charlie X”. When I lived in Malibu, Robert Walker Jr ran a store there and I used to see him on occasion. I used to think “Oh my God, It’s Charlie X”. But I never watch the show in repeats and I didn’t think much about Star Trek in the intervening years.
STC: DJData19 asks, Whenever the show does end, will the final episode try to be all-encompassing like TNG, or a focus on Sisko as the Emissary, like the premiere was? What would you like see happen?
Ira Behr: When the show ends, at the conclusion of year 15, we will try to wrap up as many loose ends as possible. With nine regular characters and about 17 recurring characters, we’ll need about a season to do that. But that’s the plan at least as of now.
STC: DJData asks, as far as the fleshing out of characters, when do you feel the series began to flourish and step out from the shadows of TNG?
Ira Behr: Obviously working on the show is different than watching the show. I never felt we were in the shadows of TNG. I think we’re very different shows. Personally, I don’t think TNG was a character-based show and after seven years and two movies, I think most people would be hard-pressed to really describe some of those characters. I think that we’ve done more with the recurring characters in DS9, as far as making them full-bodied, interesting people than we ever got to do with TNG. But, again, I don’t think that was the emphasis of that particular series.
STC: ShellieTribble asks, Would you say Hi to everyone in the Starfleet Lounge Chat?
Ira Behr: Hello to everyone in the Starfleet Lounge!
STC: Greg_Magnus asks, Who are your favorite authors?
Ira Behr: I take books very seriously… I collect books, so I have a fairly long list. I recommend any of these authors… reading their books will improve your life and your mind; Beckett, Faulkner, Celine, Cormac, McCarthy… Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, Time Powers…. Dellilo… L. Shepard… That should get you started.
STC: DJData19 asks, How do you feel Rick Berman has handled the franchise since Roddenberry’s death?
Ira Behr: Between DS9, Voyager and the movies he’s given the fans many different ways to enjoy the franchise. I think Gene would appreciate all that he’s done to keep the franchise alive. In fact, one of the few things that Rick hasn’t been involved with, is my latest book “Legends of the Ferengi” by Pocket Books… co-written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Without a doubt, it is the funniest Star Trek book ever written… not that there’s been much competition.
STC: LarryN asks, Ira, the Legends of the Ferengi is great, a new way to use a book to expand show background by a “Creator”. Any of the tales turning up in future episodes? What about another book?
Ira Behr: Little things that are mentioned in the book are bound to pop up on the show. In fact, one already has… the Marauder Mo, Quark’s boyhood toy came directly out of the book. As far as there being another book, it’s a lot of work and I really do prefer to concentrate on DS9.
STC: LarryNHost asks, Ira, as a NY’er, how did you get to be such a big western fan, esp. of the Alamo?
Ira Behr: As a Bronx boy, I sometimes felt I was living in Fort Apache. So being a fan of the Western isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound. As for the Alamo, I’ve always had a fascination for the losing side, a heroic loss is always more interesting than a win in my twisted brain. You can read in anything you like in terms of DS9.
STC: Alan Cooper asks, Many people have questioned the motivations of bringing Worf onto DS9 i.e… it was ONLY to get ratings… etc.. etc… etc… How do you respond to them?
Ira Behr: Obviously, one of the reasons Worf was brought on the show was to increase the ratings. After all, they call it show “business”. But if we did not feel that Worf would’ve brought something to the party, we never would’ve done it. Sometimes business decisions and artistic decisions can ride the same wave.
STC: Mrben2 asks, When will your book “Legends of the Ferengi” be released?
Ira Behr: The book is already in release. If you cannot find it in your neighborhood, move to another one. If you cannot find it in your state, move to another state. You need this book!!! You will like this book. FIND THIS BOOK!!
STC: Werewindle asks, Many fans that I have chatted with have wondered why Worf’s son, Alexander didn’t show up with him on the station. Are there any plans to include him in the future?
Ira Behr: Yes. You will be seeing Alexander more than once this season. The new actor who is playing him is quite wonderful. Marc Worden is his name. I think he’s going to be very popular. Between him and J.G. Hertzler (who plays Martok) I think it is obvious that there’s still life in those Klingons after all.
STC: Scott S asks, What are the chances of there being a ST:DS9 movie?
Ira Behr: Right now, I don’t think the chances are all that good. Of course, I think it would be wonderful idea. Deep Space Nine in Panavision… what a concept! Maybe if the fans started writing into Paramount demanding that a DS9 feature be made, it would have some effect. Of course, you can take that same energy and buy a few copies of “Legends of the Ferengi”.
Either way I love ya!
STC: TBone asks, Are Worf and Dax really going to get married?
Ira Behr: Yes. Wait until you see the dress.
I bet you had no idea that Michael Dorn had such beautiful legs.
STC: SiskoKid asks, Will this be the last season of Deep Space Nine?
Ira Behr: I suppose it’s possible. But right now, this being September 30, 1997, I would say there’s a very good chance we’ll do a seventh season. But I would like to say that if we don’t I would not consider that, in any way, a failure. Six seasons for a TV show is pretty amazing and this idea that a seventh season is mandatory seems to me to be somewhat greedy. As I said, I think the chances are very good that we’ll go seven.
STC: Quark asks, Mr. Behr when does the new season of DS9 starts. P.S I love the show?
Ira Behr: The new season starts this week. Check local listings in your area.
As for you loving the show, we love ya right back.
STC: Keinbert asks, What do you think of the Star Trek Experience in Vegas?
Ira Behr: Believe it or not, I go to Las Vegas frequently. It is one of those bizarre cities that speak “America” to me. To think of Vegas and Star Trek in the same breath is enough to make my head explode with righteous joy. Now if only they could get Frank Sinatra Jr. to be the host, that would be Nirvana. Few people know that the true pilot episode of DS9 was the movie “Ocean’s Eleven” and if you watch the DS9 pilot “Emissary” on one TV and “Ocean’s Eleven” on another TV, you’ll be amazed by what you’ll find.
STC: Brian Blackmore (TR1SPY) asks, the Ferengi started out as rather lethal in ST:TNG. Now they are almost used as galactic comic relief. Do you agree with their transformation?
Ira Behr: I think I’m not saying anything out of school by telling you that the idea of lethal Ferenig was kind of a bust. The Ferengi are not the Klingons or the Romulans. They were minor villains at best. I don’t really see them as galactic comic relief. To me, they’re the closest thing to a 20th century hew-mons.
STC: Keinbert asks, How long does it take to write an episode?
Ira Behr: Usually we write the story in one or two days. Then the writing staff meets to break the story down into an outline… this usually takes two or three days. Then we usually write a script in seven to ten days. It’s very intensive. There are times I wish we could relax and take a month but that’s not television. At the same time, as we’re writing the scripts, we’re also producing the series (i.e casting sessions, production meetings, visits to my therapist… etc…). It’s a full life and I’m getting older by the second.
STC: DJ asks, I can’t believe I’m talking with you. Is there any way that you would be able to e-mail my sister so she believes that I talked with you. She is a BIG fan of Deep Space Nine?
Ira Behr: What I love about the internet is this “thread of paranoia” that seems to be a part of it’s life’s blood. I feel your pain… let it rain.
I can only say I am who I say I am.
Though at times when I’m tired, I will look in the mirror and to my horror, sees Hans Beimler
STC: DJData19 asks, How often do you attend conventions? Do you enjoy them? If you are in the Milwaukee area in August, you could hit GenCon, a four day con devoted not just to Sci-Fi bu to gaming as well… Previous guests I have met personally have included Garrett Wang and Walter Koening… whaddya think?
Ira Behr: I have only attended a handful of conventions. The truth is, I don’t think the majority of fans care much about talking to the people behind the scenes.
I mean, this is understandable, though I do think I am as attractive as Terry Farrell
STC: I’d have to agree!
Ira Behr: I feel part of my duties as an Executive Producer is to promote the show. I really enjoy working on DS9 and I can’t think of much that I wouldn’t do for it. So as Dickens wrote in David Copperfield, “Barkis is willing” but if I was a fan I’d rather see Nana Visitor.
STC: Ramses asks, What exactly does an Executive Producer do?
Ira Behr: Basically, my job is to keep pipeline of scripts active so that the monster TV camera doesn’t eat us while we’re not looking. But, like I said earlier, I also make many of the decisions that go into the day to day production of the series. It’s a job involving detail work, from approving costumes to viewing dailies and giving my comments on the rough cut of each episode.
STC: RobertO asks, Your bio says you turned down a playwright scholarship in NY to go out to LA for films & TV. Was that a big risk for you?
Ira Behr: Actually, it was a scholarship to Brandeis University. I don’t know if it was a risk but it certainly changed my life. For a few years, I kind of drifted around… worked in market research and did many of the things I will tell my children not to do but I don’t regret the decision. I had a fear of winding up an academic and though I do like the thought of, one day, teaching to have done it from the time I was 25 would not have given me the satisfaction I get playing here at Paramount.
STC: Brian Blackmore (TR1SPY) asks, Between the holodeck, time travel, parallel universes and “sub-conscious dream” episodes, Star Trek writers have a lot of easy outs in terms of plot structure that I believe they abuse sometimes and strain credulity. Any comments or questions on how to write disciplined stories without relying so heavily on these plot devices?
Ira Behr: As I’ve said before, I think DS9 is a character-driven show. I’m not knocking plots… obviously they’re necessary but if we have to go to a holodeck or time travel, etc.. in order to have an arena in which to develop character, I have no problem with with that and in terms of straining credulity, I have one word for you “Beam me up, Scotty”
STC: Keinbert asks, What do you do to be inspired when you write?
Ira Behr: That’s a great question. So here’s the not-so-great answer. When you’re writing for television, you don’t have time to be inspired. You have to get the work done. Or, to put it another way, what inspires me most of all is fear, loathing and the ever-present sense of failure. The cameras keep rolling, so we have to keep writing or as a very wise man once said “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Seriously though, the other thing that inspires me is reading a good book. I love words, sentences, paragraphs. There are times I wish I could play an instrument or sing or paint but unfortunately I can’t do any of those things. I’m a true idiot-savant.
There is one thing that I’m good at… make that two things… one of them is writing.
STC: Ted Nichols asks, For someone wanting to be obtain the same amount of success as you what would you recommend? YOU ARE GREAT, one of the best Truly, LLAP!
Ira Behr: You have to low what you do. You have to have the guts of a bandit. You have to be prepared for some serious setbacks. You’ve got to keep perspective. You’ve got to care a lot and ultimately you can’t be afraid to not fucking care at all. To quote Bob Dylan “There is no success like failure… and failure is no success at all”. If you can remember that, if you can believe that paradox, you’ll be okay.
STC: Ted Nichols asks, Are you good friends with Michael and Denise Okuda? What all do they do for DS9?
Ira Behr: I think Michael and Denise are two incredibly talented people. They’re also hard core fans and though It’s easy at times to think of the fans as just being a pain, Michael and Denise are a constant reminder to me that fans are cool too. As far as the work they do for the show… ask them. I hear they go to all the conventions.
STC: 1hp asks, Your villains are 3-dimensional. Is this always intentional?
Ira Behr: Absolutely. Gul Dukat, Weyoun, the Female Shape-shifter, Damar… these are all great characters…. and wonderful characters to write for. It’s especially gratifying for me to have been a fan of Jeff Combs (Weyoun) for a number of years and then to be able to hire him to do the show and find out that he’s a great guy as well as a talented actor. It’s this kind of thing that makes all the long hours worthwhile.
STC: Greg_Magnus asks, Gene Roddenberry’s “vision” is a subject much discussed by Trek fans. What is your interpretation of Roddenberry’s vision?
Ira Behr: I think the question has its answer contained within it. I see my job as interpreting Gene’s vision. Gene gave us the 24th Century. He gave us the knowledge that the human race will not only survive also prosper but that’s a pretty broad vision and what I want to do is take that idea and study it. In other words, in “The Maquis Part II” I had Sisko say that Earth is a paradise but that it’s easy to be a saint in paradise. To me, DS9 isn’t about paradise and the fact that Gene Roddenberry’s human race can exist there and struggle there and try to make that little part of the galaxy a better place is a positive view of the future but within that positive view, there’s a lot of pain, suffering, disappointment and death. None of those things I find to be in conflict with Gene’s vision. He was a creative man and I think it’s sad that there’s a segment of the audience that seem determined to paint him narrower than he was.