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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old March 19 2013, 07:18 AM   #1
ZapBrannigan
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TOS: A Financial Curse?

STAR TREK lost money for Desilu and Paramount during it's first run on NBC. But afterward, despite having only 79 episodes when 100 was the usual minimum, the show made money for Paramount in syndication.

William Shatner owned five percent of the show, but he went flat broke shortly after it was canceled. This was due to a ruinous California divorce: he owed alimony based on his weekly STAR TREK salary-- and the series was canceled. And on top of that, his ex-wife got half of his piece of STAR TREK's afterlife. So even after the syndication money finally got rolling, he was getting a little and owing a lot. STAR TREK actually hurt him financially until TMP got made.

The Roddenberrys struggled to stay "rich" in the 1970s, in part due to high lifestyle expenses, and also because his pilot movies hadn't gotten a new TV series started. Gene has said that he was broke by the time ST-TMP got rolling.

Bjo Trimble helped Roddenberry organize the letter-writing campaigns that staved off cancellation twice, after the first and second seasons. She later wrote the STAR TREK CONCORDANCE (a great book in its day), but lost her royalties nest-egg to a dishonest accountant or some such, and she and her husband were broke or close to it in the mid-1990s, I read. Although she appeared as an extra in TMP, it obviously didn't do for her what it did for Roddenberry and Shatner.

I wonder if any other TOS alums went broke after the show got canceled.
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Old March 19 2013, 11:41 AM   #2
Whettestone
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

100 episodes for syndication is an urban legend. The minimums are 13 and 65.

Shatner owns 5% of Star Trek? Never heard that, source please?
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Old March 19 2013, 12:34 PM   #3
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

Whettestone wrote: View Post

Shatner owns 5% of Star Trek? Never heard that, source please?
Not sure of the percentage, but Shatner got a piece of the show instead of a raise for season three.
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Old March 19 2013, 02:18 PM   #4
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

Maybe this is why a "money-less" utopia was a recurring theme in post-TOS TREK.
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Old March 19 2013, 02:19 PM   #5
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

Whettestone wrote: View Post
100 episodes for syndication is an urban legend. The minimums are 13 and 65.

Shatner owns 5% of Star Trek? Never heard that, source please?
Inside Star Trek: The Real Story - Herb Solow and Robert Justman. And I think that was only for the network run, and/or limited syndication reruns. It's not like he still owns a piece of it.

If 100 episodes for syndication is an urban legend then a lot of studios believe it. This is why USA Network made a 4th season of Airwolf. While 100 episodes has proven to be a high number, and many shows under 100 episodes have lived on successfully in their syndie runs, 13 episodes seems ridiculously low. I can't imagine a series being cancelled halfway through its first season and everyone saying "well it'll at least be seen in syndication - it has enough episodes." They would burn through the inventory too quickly for it to be profitable. Even at one a week, when other shows were being stripped daily, by the end of the year, the whole series would be seen 4 times over.

Even a legendary show like The Prisoner, with its 17 episodes, didn't get rerun repeatedly.
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Old March 19 2013, 02:21 PM   #6
ZapBrannigan
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

Metryq wrote: View Post
Maybe this is why a "money-less" utopia was a recurring theme in post-TOS TREK.
As in, "The audience is still using money. I wish we had some."
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Old March 19 2013, 03:23 PM   #7
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

Whettestone wrote: View Post
100 episodes for syndication is an urban legend. The minimums are 13 and 65.
Not really. Early on, series sich as Universal's The Sixth Sense (25 episodes) did not have enough episodes for a syndication package, so it was tacked on to Night Gallery, otherwise, TSS would have spent the rest of its time in a vault.

Until the 80s--when studios started packaging syndication blocks of old series which allowed short-lived shows to see the light of day, many one-season wonders (Gidget, The Green Hornet, etc.) were buried. Other short timers--such as Planet of the Apes (14 episdoes) and The Time Tunnel (30 episodes) first earned a second life in the early 80s as TV "movies" made from joined episodes, as they did not have enough for a then-standard syndication package.
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Old March 19 2013, 04:23 PM   #8
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

As a youngster I always assumed somebody on TV was getting paid truck loads of coin. My wife drives a school bus part-time to help make ends meet today. One of her co-workers is a man that had been a production assistant on Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (a fine exercise in camp-fantasy). I remember speaking with him at our last Christmas party. He had been a driver even back then during the show's hiatus and off periods. He explained it was famine....and not quite feast....at the best of times...even for the actors.

My new assumption is outside of a handful of know commodities on the tube, most make far less than people think, OR, their expenses, leased homes and cars...are trapping they have to assume in order to fit in and give the impression of success.
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Old March 19 2013, 05:30 PM   #9
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

It's not a curse, it's poor financial management. The same thing happens with athletes once they retire; they try to live the high life without the salary they were used to and end up going broke.
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Old March 19 2013, 07:06 PM   #10
gottacook
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

TREK_GOD_1 wrote: View Post
Early on, series sich as Universal's The Sixth Sense (25 episodes) did not have enough episodes for a syndication package, so it was tacked on to Night Gallery, otherwise, TSS would have spent the rest of its time in a vault.
As a big Night Gallery fan when it was on NBC, I still cringe at the thought of poor Rod Serling at the end of his life, taping those Night Gallery-like introductions to Sixth Sense episodes for the syndication package - which, even worse, ruined many of the Night Gallery segments by cutting them - or expanding them! - in the crudest fashion possible.

Unfortunately the syndication package still runs, nearly 40 years later (for example, over the air on MeTV), and anyone exposed to Night Gallery by chance will come across it in that form, even though uncut/unexpanded segments are thankfully available online these days.
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Old March 20 2013, 04:11 AM   #11
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Re: TOS: A Financial Curse?

BillJ wrote: View Post
Whettestone wrote: View Post

Shatner owns 5% of Star Trek? Never heard that, source please?
Not sure of the percentage, but Shatner got a piece of the show instead of a raise for season three.
You sure about that??? I heard Shatner sold his rights to Star Trek right after cancellation because he thought it was going nowhere and NIMOY took the 5 percent???
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