By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Oct 29, 2009 at 11:00 AM

It was all that cigarette smoke in the air at Shully's Cuisine on Green Bay Road in Thiensville Wednesday morning that set the scene.

Documentary filmmaker Steve Boettcher was peering through the viewfinder on his camera, focusing tightly on hand wrapped around a beer bottle.

After several takes, the tight shot was ruled a success and Boettcher moved on. Around him, Milwaukee area actors in upscale 1950s attire were getting ready for the next scene in a nicotine-stained scene that could've come out of AMC's "Mad Men." But this was a re-enactment for an episode of the next season of PBS' "Pioneers of Television."

It's a story credited to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. It's a story Boettcher and his creative partner, Mike Trinklein, got from the likes of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols, stars of Roddenberry's greatest achievement, "Star Trek."

"The stories change a little bit," admits Boettcher. But the bottom line is this:

It's 1957 and Roddenberry, then a motorcycle cop who can't get anybody to read his scripts, storms into an L.A. eatery where agents are known to gather. The agents try and push him away, but by the time he's done, Roddenberry has representation that will eventually result in a legendary TV career.

The second season should air next fall, with four episodes looking at crime dramas, children's programs, the lost genre of the Western and, of course, science fiction.

Like the first four episodes, which premiered in January 2008, the strength of these four is the interviews, often with familiar faces who don't sit regularly sit down with interviewers. The current target: Clint Eastwood.

"We are very close to getting him, but he's not gotten yet," says Boettcher, a former news photographer at Channel 4, who teamed with Trinklein, a writer, to form Boettcher-Trinklein Media Inc.

Past interviews have included Red Skelton six days before his death; and Merv Griffin, a month before his death.

On TV: NBC has ordered six more episodes of "Chuck," which is supposed to be back after the Winter Olympics and originally had a 13-episode season. There's talk of it's early return, now likely in January. That talk is likely to intensify now that the network has decided not to order any more episodes of "Trauma."

  • Meanwhile, ABC's new version of "Scrubs" will launch on Dec. 1 in the 8 p.m. Tuesday slot. That first week will feature back-to-back episodes. "Better Off Ted" starts in the 8:30 slot on Dec. 8.
  • "American Idol" runnerup Adam Lambert visits Oprah Winfrey at 4 p.m. on Channel 12 to talk about his new album and its interesting cover. Does anybody remember who beat him?
  • MSNBC had been looking for a 9 p.m. weeknight show to replace the rerun of Keith Olbermann's "Countdown." But the repeat is doing so well against CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" that it's letting things be. In October, the rerun pulled in more viewers in the 25-54 demographic than Cooper's first-run.

Not so subtle comedy: Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kalling) and her "Office" co-worker, Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) are the stars of a series of "webisodes" on the NBC's show Web site, which starts with a music video, "Male Prima Donna," that you can see here.

A making-of video follows below:

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.