PLAIN DEALER TELEVISION AND RADIO CRITIC
LOS ANGELES - You meet the strangest people on the bridge of the starship Voyager - Klingons, Vulcans, Borgs, Talaxians, Cardassians, Maquis resistance fighters, aliens dropping in from every corner of the galaxy. This week, you might have bumped into a refugee from the universe known as Cleveland. His name is Tim Hagan.
The former Cuyahoga County commissioner was standing on Paramount Pictures' soundstage 9, home of the sprawling starship set. He watched with a wistful smile as television critics crowded around his wife, Kate Mulgrew, who plays Capt. Kathryn Janeway on UPN's "Star Trek: Voyager."
"For years, I was the one with reporters mobbed around me, firing questions," said Hagan, who splits his time between Cleveland and Los Angeles. "The truth is that this takes some getting used to. After being involved in public life for 25 years, it's a hell of an adjustment to be the secondary figure.
"You think you're making a contribution to the public welfare for all those years, and then, all of a sudden, wherever you go, you're Capt. Janeway's husband. But I chose to leave public life after 16 years as county commissioner, so it's not something I can dwell on."
He was still smiling. "This is her world," he said with a glance at the captain's chair. "I used to stay in the trailer [Mulgrew's place of solitude on the studio lot] and not get involved with these events, but she would say, "Well, there might be some people from Ohio who will want to talk to you.' And here you are."
Staying in character
"An even bigger adjustment for me is to realize that when I accompany my wife to work, she has to become a character," he said. "She has to be totally focused on that and nothing else because so many people are counting on her. And she's a dedicated artist. This is her life, and I have to honor that, just as she has honored my life. I'm very proud of her."
When in Cleveland, Hagan serves as a consultant to the Mandel Foundation and MetroHealth System. He married the "Star Trek" star about a year and a half ago.
Mulgrew, who got her TV start playing Mary Ryan on the ABC soap opera "Ryan's Hope," has been in command of the Starfleet vessel since the 1993 premiere of "Voyager," Paramount's fourth "Star Trek" series (following the 1966-69 original, the syndicated "Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine").
"It's tough for Kate to get away and I have the flexibility to come out here regularly," Hagan said. "So I get on a plane every eight days or so, stay out here for five days, then go back to Cleveland. I logged more than 100,000 air miles last year, and it wasn't that tough to do. It was getting so they were asking me if I wanted to fly the plane.
"It's tough, but we make time. At Christmas, we were together for two weeks. At Thanksgiving, we got seven days. She gets one week off in October and a little hiatus in March, so we work it out."
Currently in the middle of its sixth season, "Voyager" definitely will return for a seventh.
"It has gone by with blazing speed," said Mulgrew, whose previous prime-time series include "Kate Columbo" (aka "Kate Loves a Mystery" and "Mrs. Columbo"), "Heartbeat" and "Man of the People."
"And I've never tired of it, largely because I really love this character and working with this happy company. One really can't ask for much more than that. Each week, this show does what science fiction can really do best, which is to tell a story with moral significance, dramatic value and insight into who we are."
Another Ohio connection
Hagan isn't the only Northeast Ohio connection on the bridge of this starship. The series' executive producer, Brannon Braga, is a Canton native who attended Kent State University. He began his "Star" trek as a writer on the "Next Generation" series.
Braga has written more than 50 "Star Trek" TV episodes and co-authored two of the nine "Star Trek" movies, "Generations" (1994) and "First Contact" (1996). Sitting in the captain's chair, he confirmed that Paramount has given the green light to the development of both a fifth "Star Trek" series and a 10th film.
"There's a concept, but it's in the very preliminary stages," said the 1983 graduate of Canton McKinley High School. "It's just way too early to talk about, because there are so many ideas on the table. We're all in agreement that it needs to be "Star Trek' - it needs to embody the "Star Trek' philosophy, but it also needs to be a little bit different.
"It can't just be another group of people on a ship with a different name. It has to have something about it that will give people a compelling reason to watch, without straying too far away from the core elements. How exactly that will develop is hard to say at this point, so I couldn't imagine anything getting on the air before January or fall 2001."
©2000 THE PLAIN DEALER Cleveland Live
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