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From the Quad to the Delta Quadrant ... and Beyond

It's only fitting Wendy Neuss would boldly go where she had never gone before: after nearly 10 years helping crews from Star Trek explore the galaxies, she's left one of the most enduring franchises in show business to strike out on her own in Hollywood.
   Well, not exactly alone. She and her fiance, Patrick Stewart -- Captain Jean-Luc Picard to fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation -- have founded a production company to develop movie projects. It's called Flying Freehold -- after a British real-estate term -- and Neuss is senior vice president, in charge of everything from ordering stationery to finding scripts.
   While working on Star Trek, she had ideas she wanted to pursue, but when she first started taking them to outside producers, she wasn't taken seriously. Now, she finds herself "doing lunch" with agents, producers, literary types and production heads.
    "It was a perfect opportunity," says Neuss, C'76. "It was an emotional decision to leave, but it was time. I couldn't have left on better terms. They gave me a 'captain's log' as a going away present."
   The Livingston, N.J., native went to Penn as a psychology major with a love of theater. A founding member of Interacts theater group, while at Penn she directed several plays and, through the urging of classmate Ken Olin (later a star of thirtysomething), did her only acting in When You Coming Back, Red Ryder?
   After graduation, Neuss's first job was in the prop department of Joseph Papp's Public Theater. Later, she moved on to TV. While working on Consumer Reports Presents on HBO she met Rick Berman, who would eventually become executive producer for all Star Trek projects. She moved to Los Angeles to take a job producing specials for Showtime and happened to run into Berman on the Paramount Studios lot. "It was sort of, 'Hey, I know you,'" she says. "Believe it or not, it was that tenuous connection that led to my getting hired on Star Trek."
   Most of the world had followed (in reruns) the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and the crew of the Starship Enterprise in the original Star Trek, which had its first run in the late-1960s. In 1987 the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry, devised Star Trek: The Next Generation. Neuss joined the show's post-production department the following year, working her way up to associate producer and producer in four seasons. Then Berman asked her to join the team producing the latest show in the series, Star Trek: Voyager.
   While overseeing special effects, Neuss says she used her Penn education "all the time ... for dealing with music or different cultural references. When I was a student, they referred to the courses I took as 'the liberal arts.' My parents were worried I wasn't going to be able to support myself. Now I'm glad I did [take those courses], and I encourage anybody who wants to enter this business to get a solid grounding in the classics," she says.
   Her education also helped her social life. Stewart, a classically trained stage actor from England who had performed Shakespeare many times, heard that Neuss was a fan of The Bard. He bet her she couldn't name all of his plays. "I did, after about an hour. I had forgotten Twelfth Night. He later told me that he had to fall in love with someone who could name them all, but I'd like to think there are other reasons," she says, laughing.
    -- Jon Caroulis

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