But the TNG-era Roddenberry had bought into his image as a great visionary and futurist, and preferred to suborn the needs of drama to his desire to preach a utopian vision of the future. I think the 1960s and 1980s versions of the man would have disagreed on a lot of things.
Not quite. Basically, the TNG story is this:
1) When the original 'Star Trek' series was canceled GR SOLD the 'Star Trek' IP lock stock and barrell (IE the whole thing) to Paramount for a lump sum. (With only 79 episodes - GR never thought Star Trek would get a syndication deal, or if it did it would be cheap and short lived.)
2) When Paramount was able to turn around and really market the show in syndication; and as a result do some extra merchandising, which started to net them a nice return on their investment -- GR was a bit upset that (because he'd sold the rights entirely to Paramount), he wasn't able to share in any of that profitable return.
3) GR used his 'Lincoln Enterprises' entity (which he had started before the show's cancellation); to try and make a little profit on some of the memorabilia he had from ten show; and other related items - at which point Paramount came after him reminding him that he HA sold them the rights to Star Trek; and they eventually work out a deal where 'Lincoln Enterprises' could continue to sell some Star Trek related merchandise - but again, GR was always a bit resentful he couldn't full share in the full profits that Paramount was realizing from Star Trek.
4) As talks a reviving Star Trek continued, paramount was often at odds with GR over a lot of things (and GR was always trying to get what he felt he 'deserved' profit wise from any new deal involving Star Trek - which was why Paramount always had someone who was 'their guy' to keep an eye on what GR was doing. (I'll skip over what I recall of Phase II and his involvement with the films, as this is more about what he did to get TNG going.)
5) When GR was finally (after a few not really aborted attempts, but rather TNG concepts that the studio didn't like from others within the studio itself) contracted to create/produce/make TNG - he saw it as a chance to make a 'new' form of Star Trek that he would retain as 'his' - (and thus be able to 100% share in any/all profits from the new series) - and as a result, the main reason he didn't want new staffers who hadn't really seen/gotten into the original Star trek series to watch it, is that he didn't want Paramount possibly trying to claim a larger ownership percentage because it came from the 'original' Star Trek series - he wanted TNG to be VERY different from TOS (to the point that during development GR originally didn't want ANY references or appearances to aliens and races that were part of the original series, including Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, etc.) Eventually, he was talked out of that aspect; and given contractual assurances that TNG would be 'his' per se; and he dialed it back to what we saw -- but again, he did a lot of changes to try and distance it as much as he could from TOS - and make sure new staffers were not influenced by previous ideas (which is funny because it was also his idea to take one old TOS script per season and remake it for TNG -- and an idea that Paramount asked be scrapped once the fan and critic response to 'The Naked Now' was evaluated).
In the end though GR relented even more as when first season ratings and fan response wasn't what he or the studio liked; they tried to lift/shoehorn a 'Spock/McCoy' type dynamic by introducing the TNG female version of Doctor McCoy in Doctor 'Kate' Pulaski in Season 2 - and put her at odds with Data. problem was, most older fans saw threw it and with the naivety inherent to the Data character, it came across more as flat out abuse rather then a mental sparring match.
but my point: The whole point of TNG in GR's mind was just to make sure he made profit and get what he should have gotten originally; and (n his mid) make fans forget about the (then 20 year old TOS) - and embrace this 'new/modern' vision of 'Star Trek'.
And considering the stories of how he ran the show in the first season; and the fact he was driving writers and production staff away in droves - I stand by the above assessment.
Hell, TNG S3's "Best of Both Worlds (Part One)" was originally written as a sort of farewell FU - as most of the writting staff that wrote it had planned NOT to come back in Season 4 - so they left a 'mess' for the 'new guys'; but as GR' health was declining, and they found he was relinquishing a lot of control, for S4 - most came back, and were kicking themselves as they had to now write themselves out of the S3 cliffhanger.