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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old September 11 2013, 04:27 AM   #91
MauriceNavidad
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Professor Moriarty wrote: View Post
FWIW, I'm halfway through volume I of These Are the Voyages (http://www.jacobsbrownmediagroup.com...e-voyages.html) and from the series' own production history and notes it seems plain that Gene Roddenberry was an inveterate meddler in the scripts of other writers and something of a hack in his own "write" (pun very much intended).
re Roddenberry and the "need" to rewrite scripts (emphasis mine):
Inside Star Trek, p. 138-9 wrote:
BOB [JUSTMAN]: At the time, I was disappointed by the fact that Gene never responded to my request to be paid for the story [for Tomorrow Is Yesterday]. I knew he had come up with a number of story ideas for the show, "springboards" as we called them. He claimed that he wouldn't get paid for them; they were part of his duties as creator of the show. But since I was part of the management team, I rationalized, if Gene could do it gratis, then so could I. The important thing was to help the show in every way possible. At the time, I had no idea that Gene would receive extra money from the studio for this "extra work." Many years later when I had the facts, I came to realize that the "feet of clay" syndrome was kicking in--but at the time, I didn't want to accept that fact.

HERB [SOLOW]: Gene's refusal to acknowlege Bob Justman's story contribution was a particularly cruel treatment of his Associate Producer and friend, especially when considering his money demands for anything he wrote or rewrote. Part of the salary and royalty paid series "Creator-Executive Producers" covered some rewriting of stories and scripts. After I left [Desilu] and went to MGM, Gene's agents submitted bills directly to the Paramount Business Affairs Department for almost every story or rewrite he did. The payments ranged from $750 to over $3,000, at times even more than what the writer of a particular script was paid. It was like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse; it was Gene himself, deciding what stories and scripts needed rewriting. And the more stories and scripts he rewrote, he more extra money he was paid. It's no wonder that almost all of the Star Trek writers, at one time or another, were angered over his treatment of their scripts. At the time, even Bob Justman didn't know about Gene's additional "perks." These extraordinary payments were not reflected in the studio's weekly cost reports.

By the time I heard about Roddenberry's refusal to give RJ credit, money, or even a personal acknowledgement for his story, it was twenty-seven years later and there was nothing I could do to correct the situation.
Inside Star Trek, p. 139 wrote:
(Several years later, the Writers Guild ruled that scriptwriters must be given the opportunity to do their own first rewrite and, if they chose not to do so, specifically forbade producers from rewriting a script without first consulting the writer.)
So make of that what you will.
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Old September 11 2013, 04:39 AM   #92
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Or to hire writers whose visions he respects and talents he trusts sufficiently to let them have their head. I was just reading a piece today with the lady doing that new Jon Voight Liev Schreiber show and she brought one writer over from the UK (he had done a series about a transgendered hit man!!!!) just on the basis of the uniqueness and darkness of his take on things, and took another guy just on the basis of him wanting to move on from MAD MEN (with Weiner's approval.)

It's probably apples & oranges comparing then & now, given how much more the shows are staff-written now ... but in terms of continuity and voice, I think Coon did a much better job than GR (no more 'space central' or whatever they were calling SFC each week, and certainly more consistency with Spock, though some of that was improved on the acting end too.)
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Old September 11 2013, 04:48 AM   #93
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Hey Trevanian, is the script excerpt I posted the one you were referring to re wishing you still had it?
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Old September 11 2013, 02:27 PM   #94
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Maurice wrote: View Post

Harvey wrote: View Post
Were their scripts? I was under the impression that the idea never made it beyond the treatment stage.
Here's a sample...
Should have been clearer; I meant was their a script for the JFK movie that was proposed?
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Old September 11 2013, 07:50 PM   #95
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Maurice wrote: View Post
jpv2000 wrote: View Post
Maurice wrote: View Post

Is that the one with the beach scene with Kirk and Alexandria swimming nude?
Say what?
Harvey wrote: View Post
Were their scripts? I was under the impression that the idea never made it beyond the treatment stage.
Here's a sample...
*SNIP*
Very cool. Thank you for posting that.
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Old September 14 2013, 01:49 AM   #96
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Timby wrote: View Post
The script for The Voyage Home was not a mash-up, but rather a result of Meyer and Bennett collaborating. There is definitely a tonal difference between the acts, but it's not like they were acting independently of one another.
Correct. The "mash-up" script was ST II - where Harve Bennett pulled in one pitch about a weather machine, another featuring a young male Vulcan called Dr Savik, another with Kirk's ex, Dr Janet Wallace and their son, David, and a sequel to Khan's story - and smooshed them all together.
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Old September 14 2013, 02:06 AM   #97
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Wasn't that Nicholas Meyer who wrote the new script based on all the elements liked from previous attempts, not Bennett?
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Old September 14 2013, 04:35 AM   #98
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Sran wrote: View Post
Don't put words in my mouth. I never said that it was a mash-up, nor did I say they were acting independently.
You said "TVH is actually a combination of two scripts put together", and that is not true.

Harvey wrote: View Post
Wasn't that Nicholas Meyer who wrote the new script based on all the elements liked from previous attempts, not Bennett?
Yes. I said Bennett pulled in all the elements he thought worth salvaging from many proposals he had gathered.

And yes, he was working with Meyer by that time. Then Meyer wrote a full script in a hurry that incorporated them all.
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Old September 14 2013, 03:42 PM   #99
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Sran wrote: View Post
William Shatner's Star Trek Movie Memories book is an interesting read that I'd highly recommend to anyone who likes Trek. But you might want to skip the book if you're a fan of Gene Roddenberry, whom Shatner (intentionally or no) paints as a woefully incompetent and obsolete writer and producer. According to Shatner, Roddenberry pitched the following idea for every single Trek film but was shot down by some combination of Harold Livingston, Nick Meyer, Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, and so on:

The crew of the USS Enterprise travels to 1963 to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But it turns out that saving Jack Kennedy's life has dire consequences. In the end, it's none other than Spock who fires shots from the grassy knoll that take the world leader down.

What's more, Roddenberry's behavior is that of a petulant child who's had his favorite toy taken away by his parents. While Phase II/The Motion Picture was in production, Roddenberry and Harold Livingston went out of their respective ways to sabotage each other's scripts. Paramount executives Michael Eisner and Frank Mancuso finally stopped Roddenberry in his tracks by telling him that his TMP script was "shit" and "made for television," opting instead to go with what Livingston wanted (but not before Livingston quit three different times to get away from Gene).

Obviously, Shatner's book is one person's perspective plus recollections from various people who were on the set at the time these events happened. Does anyone else know of information that supports or contradicts Shatner's telling of how each film was put together (and Roddenberry's diminishing input into each subsequent film)?

--Sran
I can't have an informed opinion of Gene Roddenberry and his methods. According to memory alpha, this is the episodes written by Roddenberry, who had 3 post-graduate degrees:

The Cage - 4 stars.
Mudd's Women - 1.5 stars.
Charlie X - 4 stars.
The Menagerie - 3.5 stars.
Return of the Archons - 4 stars.
Bread and Circuses - I don't remember much about it.
A Private, Little War - 4 stars.
The Omega Glory - 4 stars.
Assignment: Earth - I don't remember much about it.
The Savage Curtain - 4 stars.
Turnabout Intruder - I don't remember much about it.

So I like his episodes. They are intelligent, and different from the adventure we find in other incarnations of Trek.
I also like Hide and Q and Encounter at Farpoint, which he penned for Next Generation. I didn't like Datalore; I thought it had been done before too many times in too many television series.

So I don't think he was a bad writer. He had original ideas.
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Old September 14 2013, 04:55 PM   #100
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

^ I agree with that assessment basically, HaventGotALife. Roddenberry gets a bad rap for a lot of his personal opinions, but siphon it down to just analyzing his scripts and it emerges that he was a writer whose output was workmanlike but usually servicable, sometimes extraordinary. His best Star Trek scripts are in fact among the very best the series produced IMO. I'd definitely put the original pilot episode in that catagory, truly extraordinary writing that looks like it was much simpler to pen than it probably really was. It's possibly one of Trek's strongest scripts, full of philosophy and true character building that is not executed in a heavy-handed way like some of Gene's later work, but instead solidifies to produce a satisfying whole.

I would like to qualify this by admitting that he definitely got lazy over time, and he was a bit of a mess in the 1970s and 1980s. Even before control of the franchise was ripped from him, his tussles over the authoriship of The Motion Picture are well documented. He had lost the plot a bit by then, and arguably hadn't regained it even when he was launching TNG. But he was old, and his health was failing. So it's kind of forgivable.

His last actual (unproduced) story submission for The Next Generation, "Ferengi Gold", was excrutiatingly bad.
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Old September 14 2013, 06:20 PM   #101
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

HaventGotALife wrote: View Post
I can't have an informed opinion of Gene Roddenberry and his methods. According to memory alpha, this is the episodes written by Roddenberry, who had 3 post-graduate degrees:
The highest degree I can find for GR is an AA degree in Police Science from Los Angeles City College.
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Old September 14 2013, 09:46 PM   #102
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

HaventGotALife wrote: View Post

The Cage - 4 stars.
Mudd's Women - 1.5 stars.
Charlie X - 4 stars.
The Menagerie - 3.5 stars.
Return of the Archons - 4 stars.
Bread and Circuses - I don't remember much about it.
A Private, Little War - 4 stars.
The Omega Glory - 2 stars.
Assignment: Earth - I don't remember much about it.
The Savage Curtain - 4 stars.
Turnabout Intruder - I don't remember much about it.
My rankings would be:
  • The Cage - 4 stars
  • Mudd's Women - 2 stars
  • Charlie X - 3 stars
  • The Menagerie - 2 stars
  • Return of the Archons - 2 stars
  • Bread and Circuses - 2 stars.
  • A Private, Little War - 3 stars
  • The Omega Glory - 2 stars
  • Assignment: Earth - 1 star
  • The Savage Curtain - 3 stars
  • Turnabout Intruder - 2 stars
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Old September 14 2013, 10:08 PM   #103
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

And I would rate them:

The Cage - 4 stars
Mudd's Women - 1 star
Charlie X - 3 stars
The Menagerie - 2 stars
Return of the Archons - 3 stars
Bread and Circuses - 2 stars
A Private, Little War - 2 stars
The Omega Glory - 1 star
Assignment: Earth - 1 star
The Savage Curtain - 2 stars
Turnabout Intruder - 2 stars

Roddenberry just wasn't the show's best originator of ideas.
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Old September 14 2013, 11:12 PM   #104
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Sorry to punch in here, but:

Roddenberry, who had 3 post-graduate degrees
Meaningless. I almost hate to be the one to point it out, but having multiple degrees doesn't make one any more or less competent. I know university professors who should, quite frankly, just be put to sleep. Just to save humanity from their idiotic fanaticism.

But that's just me.

Now, back to the show.
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Old September 14 2013, 11:15 PM   #105
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Re: Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Carcazoid wrote: View Post
Meaningless. I almost hate to be the one to point it out, but having multiple degrees doesn't make one any more or less competent. I know university professors who should, quite frankly, just be put to sleep. Just to save humanity from their idiotic fanaticism.
I agree. I'm a physician. The stupidest person I've ever met is also a physician and was one of my colleagues for three years. Extra letters next to one's name are just that, letters.

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