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Photo Credit: James Dimmock/CBS.

By Oliver Jones

The script called for a fat cat. Grudge, the feline companion of new character Cleveland "Book" Booker (David Ajala), was meant to just plod around in the background of scenes in the current season of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery. But that wasn't an easy assignment for expert animal wrangler Paul Rutledge and his colleague Lesley Laurence.

Grudge the cat on Star Trek: Discovery

Grudge the cat on the set of Star Trek: Discovery.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS.

"Being on set can be an extremely stressful situation for an overweight cat," says Rutledge, who worked with several Discovery producers on The CW's historical romance Reign.

Then the veteran wrangler got a burst of inspiration. Why not cast a Maine Coon? This exotic-looking feline is the largest domesticated cat breed and one of the oldest bred in North America.

Sonequa Martin-Green holds Grudge the cat on Star Trek: Discovery

Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Burnham and Grudge of the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS.

Enter Leeu and Durban, two lookalike brothers who belong to restaurateur Michelle Smith and take turns playing the part. Far from portly (though the still-growing Leeu, 3, is over 40 inches long and weighs more than 20 pounds), the breakout animal stars of the new season have brought a playful athleticism to the role. They have even been known to deviate from the script during takes and leap suddenly onto their co-stars' backs.

Two tabby Main Coon cats

Siblings Leeu and Durban share the role of Grudge.

Photo Credit: Michelle Hendry.

As for stressed out? Not these tabbies. "Leeu is a very relaxed, easygoing cat," says Smith. "The littler one, Durban, can be more uptight. But then on set, they tend to switch spots." Smith, who also keeps two Wheaten Terriers, describes her Maine Coons as doglike. They rush the door when she returns home, come when called, and Leeu will do most anything for a treat. (Durban, on the other hand, is motivated by the sound of a can opener.)

Grudge the cat on Star Trek: Discovery

Life is pretty purr..fect for this Hollywood feline.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS.

While these two are extraordinarily well trained (Leeu knows how to use the toilet), Smith keeps a backup plan in her pocket just in case. Says Smith, "I have some really excellent catnip."

Originally published in Watch Magazine, November-December 2020.

Star Trek: Discovery streams exclusively on Paramount+.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS.

By Nate Millado

Star Trek: Discovery has returned with all-new episodes and Season 3 will feature the franchise's first transgender and non-binary characters. Actor Ian Alexander will play Gray, and newcomer Blu del Barrio will take on the role of Adira. But this groundbreaking sci-fi series has always been ahead of its time since its debut in 1966.

Here are six times Star Trek boldly went where no other TV show had gone before.

Stream all-new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery every Thursday exclusively on Paramount+.

Star Trek: The Original Series' Multicultural Crew

Uhura McCoy and Sulu in Star Trek

Nichelle Nichols as Commander Uhura, DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, and George Takei as Commander Hikaru Sulu in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry envisioned a utopian future to strive for. So even though Star Trek: The Original Series debuted during a decade of mounting racial tensions, it boasted one of the most multicultural casts on television.

The starship Enterprise crew included lieutenants Uhura (African-American actress Nichelle Nichols) and Sulu (Japanese-American actor George Takei), roles they reprised in the subsequent films. Nichols actually considered leaving after the first season, but a famous Trekkie changed her mind.

Star Trek super fan Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom she met at a NAACP fundraiser, told Nichols the role was bigger than her: "What you've accomplished, for all of us, will only be real if you stay." And so she did.

The First Interracial Kiss On American TV

Uhura and Kirk kissing

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and William Shatner as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren."

Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Just a year after the Supreme Court ruled that interracial marriage was legal, Star Trek aired the barrier-breaking episode "Plato's Stepchildren," in which Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) plants a kiss on his communications officer, Lt. Uhura (Nichols). The legendary lip-lock is considered the first scripted interracial kiss on American television.

First Genderless Character

\u200bSoren in the Star Trek The Next Generation

Soren (Melinda Culea) in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Outcast."

Photo Credit: YouTube.

In 1992, Star Trek: The Next Generation addressed sexual discrimination in the episode "The Outcast." Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) falls in love with Soren (Melinda Culea), a member of an androgynous species that finds gender to be outdated and offensive. When the J'naii discover their affair, they force Soren to undergo "psychotectic" therapy, and Soren loses their attraction to Riker.

Female Firsts

Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek Voyager

Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager.

Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Kate Mulgrew navigated uncharted territory when she first stepped onto the bridge of the U.S.S. Voyager as the first female captain of a Star Trek series. Captain Kathryn Janeway also paved the way for Star Trek: Discovery's complex, badass Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green)—the franchise's first black female lead.

First Openly Gay Couple

Lieutenant Paul Stamets and Dr Hugh Culber embracing

Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Paul Stamets and Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber in Star Trek: Discovery.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS.

In 2017, Star Trek: Discovery introduced the first openly gay characters to the franchise. played by out actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz. After Season 1's fifth episode confirmed that Lt. Stamets (Rapp) and Dr. Culber (Cruz) were indeed gay—and married!—Cruz posted on Instagram: "I may have been moved to tears watching this. #representationmatters." Out actor George Takei—who played Sulu in the Star Trek: The Original Series—also saluted the history-making moment on his social media.

First Non-Binary And Trans Characters

Head shots of actors \u200bBlu del Barrio and Ian Alexander

Blu del Barrio plays Adira and Ian Alexander plays Gray in Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery.

Photo Credit: Phil Sharp (Blu del Barrio); Jake Akita (Ian Alexander).

Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery welcomes non-binary actor Blu del Barrio and transgender actor Ian Alexander to its diverse cast.

Alexander plays Gray, a warm and empathetic transgender man, eager to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a Trill host. Newcomer del Barrio is Adira, a non-binary character who bonds with Stamets (Rapp) and Culber (Cruz). "Star Trek has always made a mission of giving visibility to underrepresented communities because it believes in showing people that a future without division on the basis of race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation is entirely within our reach," co-showrunner and executive producer Michelle Paradise said in a statement.

Stream all-new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery every Thursday exclusively on Paramount+.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images.

Archie Bunker's Chair

The beat-up thrift store purchased iconic chair from "All in the Family"

Chair used by Archie Bunker in TV show All in the Family.

Photo Credit: Courtesy National Museum of American History & Smithsonian Institution Archives.

The blue-collar bigot on All in the Family held court from this upholstered wing chair. The CBS props department bought this TV relic from a thrift store—for $8! Mike (Rob Reiner) prophetically predicted that the chair "might even end up in a museum"—it's now part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Starship Enterprise

The Starship Enterprise swoops past an alien planet in a clip form the opening credits of the 1960's Star Trek.

The U.S.S Enterprise or the Starship Enterprise.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images.

"Space...the final frontier," narrated William Shatner during the original's opening credit sequence, as the Starship Enterprise whizzed by in warp speed. Although the fictional ship measured 947 feet, the prop used in the intro was only 11 feet and donated to the National Air and Space Museum in 1974.

Stream full episodes of classic Star Trek on CBS All Access.

Mary Richards' "M"

A cast photo from the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Betty White, Valerie Harper, Ed Asner, Mary Tyler Moore, Gavin MacLeod, Cloris Leachman, and Georgia Engel from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Everett Collection.

TV's OG working woman proudly displayed her independent sense of self with her initial on her wall—a design element mid-century modern interior decorators have incorporated since.

M*A*S*H Signpost

A signpost with arrows pointing to hometwons and major cities from the television show MASH.

Signpost prop from television show "M*A*S*H".

Photo Credit: Courtesy National Museum of American History & Smithsonian Institution Archives.

The Army hospital staff used humor to cope with the harsh reality of war—and this post pointing to "anyplace but here" perfectly encapsulated that.

The 60 Minutes Stopwatch

The iconic ticking stopwatch from the television news show 60 Minutes.

Photo Credit: CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

Is there a more iconic image—and sound—than the tick-tick-tick intro to America's most watched news program? The stopwatch was used until the late 90s, when it was replaced by a CGI version.

60 Minutes airs Sundays at 7/6c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Originally published in Watch Magazine, July-August 2020.


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