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

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Old December 18 2013, 03:53 AM   #301
plynch
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Harvey wrote: View Post
http://startrekfactcheck.blogspot.co...yages-tos.html

This week, my thoughts on the revised and expanded edition of These Are The Voyages. Not a complete review (since I don't have the book), but some comments and fact-checking based upon the sample pages at Amazon (and reading the first edition).
Harvey, thank you for the shout out on your blog. That was kind. I SO want this guy's book to be well done. Especially if it really was years in the making. It is sort of maddening, as in, Dude, if you're gonna spend YEARS in the researching, get the easier things right, like Amos n Andy coming before Lucy. All that is wikipediable (new word?); but maybe if you think you're right, you just don't bother to look? It sure casts doubt on all the details we aren't able to cross check as readers. Well. Let's end on a positive that most of the typos are gone.

Best wishes on your continuing, fun blog.
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Old December 18 2013, 04:04 AM   #302
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

plynch wrote: View Post
Harvey wrote: View Post
http://startrekfactcheck.blogspot.co...yages-tos.html

This week, my thoughts on the revised and expanded edition of These Are The Voyages. Not a complete review (since I don't have the book), but some comments and fact-checking based upon the sample pages at Amazon (and reading the first edition).
Harvey, thank you for the shout out on your blog. That was kind. I SO want this guy's book to be well done. Especially if it really was years in the making. It is sort of maddening, as in, Dude, if you're gonna spend YEARS in the researching, get the easier things right, like Amos n Andy coming before Lucy. All that is wikipediable (new word?); but maybe if you think you're right, you just don't bother to look? It sure casts doubt on all the details we aren't able to cross check as readers. Well. Let's end on a positive that most of the typos are gone.

Best wishes on your continuing, fun blog.
Amen.

I tried watching the Access Hollywood interview with Cushman and John D.F. Black and had to turn it off because the interviewer was fawning so much and saying Cushman had "proved" his contention that Star Trek was a hit, when that's questionable at best. Ugh.
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Old December 18 2013, 05:29 AM   #303
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

SpHeRe31459 wrote: View Post
trevanian wrote: View Post
I sit corrected.
Though I must say it was certainly plausible it could have ended during VOY. As soon as Michael Piller, the driving force behind the open submissions, wasn't involved I could see it just quietly being dropped.
Can't say I blame them. TNG bought, what... two or three scripts submitted through the process during the show's entire run? More often they'd invite people to come in an pitch ideas, but even then I imagine most pitch sessions with outside writers yielded nothing.
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Old December 18 2013, 05:31 AM   #304
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Christopher wrote: View Post
Generally the rule seems to be to italicize the titles of complete works -- novels, magazines, journals, movies, TV series -- and to use quotes for the titles of shorter works or portions of a larger work -- short stories, articles, individual comic-book issues or TV episodes. So if we extended that to blogs, I guess the blog title would be italicized like a magazine title, and the posts' titles would be in quotes like magazine articles.
Unless a blog chose to use AP Style, which uses quotes all around.
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Old December 18 2013, 06:04 AM   #305
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
SpHeRe31459 wrote: View Post
Though I must say it was certainly plausible it could have ended during VOY. As soon as Michael Piller, the driving force behind the open submissions, wasn't involved I could see it just quietly being dropped.
Can't say I blame them. TNG bought, what... two or three scripts submitted through the process during the show's entire run? More often they'd invite people to come in an pitch ideas, but even then I imagine most pitch sessions with outside writers yielded nothing.
Just a reminder, though, that SpHeRe was speaking hypothetically. As stated above, and as I know from personal experience, the open submission policy continued throughout the run of Voyager and only came to an end with the start of Enterprise.

As I recall, only one spec script submission in a thousand earned a writer an invitation to pitch, and only about one pitch in ten thousand was bought (keeping in mind that each writer would make multiple pitches per session and often get multiple sessions). But that wasn't really atypical. They turned down as many pitches from established professional freelancers as from unagented newbies like myself who came in through the open submission process. I recall that when I flew out to pitch to DS9, I was seated next to Daniel Keys Moran, who'd previously sold "Hard Time" to DS9 (and didn't like what they'd done with it, though I disagree) and who'd been through several more pitches since without selling anything to the show.

I don't think the open submission policy was shut down because of insufficient fecundity, but rather for more bureaucratic reasons. Most studios avoid open submissions because of the fear of nuisance plagiarism lawsuits. Trek had aspiring pitchers sign an "I promise not to sue if some future episode vaguely resembles my ideas" waiver, but that was probably considered a tenuous safeguard and it was safer to go back to the old agents-only approach. And I think the process entailed a lot of work on the part of the producers and the script coordinator, and the people in charge of ENT didn't want to do it anymore.
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Old December 18 2013, 06:36 AM   #306
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Yep the legal reasons were what they gave when they shut it down at the beginning of ENT.
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Old December 18 2013, 06:37 AM   #307
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

I thought the open door policy garnered a lot of useable material for TNG. A couple days before I pitched, they bought what became SILICON AVATAR from somebody with a spec they liked. One of the amnesia shows came from a spec from a friend's Arizona mailman. I kinda think Echevaria came from the slush pile too (is he the one who did the data's daughter show that was rewritten by Snodgrass?)

I think if you go back through the CFQ coverage on the series you'll see a lot of 'story by' credits that came from folks who have no other writing credits, or damn few anyway.
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Old December 18 2013, 07:27 AM   #308
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

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I kinda think Echevaria came from the slush pile too (is he the one who did the data's daughter show that was rewritten by Snodgrass?)
Yes to both.
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Old December 18 2013, 09:34 PM   #309
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Maurice wrote: View Post
I tried watching the Access Hollywood interview with Cushman and John D.F. Black and had to turn it off because the interviewer was fawning so much and saying Cushman had "proved" his contention that Star Trek was a hit, when that's questionable at best. Ugh.
Almost every review I've read has embraced the "hit" thesis without question, which has been disappointing. I will definitely address this in greater detail on my blog at some point; I've been slowly gathering articles from the period that mention or discuss the show's ratings for this, and already shared some of the archival stuff I found in the Roddenberry collection on this board.

Next month I should have some time to read these two books, which look like they explain a lot of the things Cushman suggests in his author's note were too hard to understand about the ratings (which, really, should immediately give one pause when you consider one of his central "revelations" is his thesis about the ratings).

Plynch makes a good point, that cannot be emphasized enough. I don't think anyone has come to this book wanting it to fail. Believe me, I wish the book had been an unqualified success (good reviews, after all, sell books, which I get a piece of through affiliate links).
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Old December 19 2013, 12:32 AM   #310
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

I pitched telephonically to DS9 in 1995 (flying there was rather prohibitive, based on my finances at the time). And to slightly correct (based on memory) -- Echevaria gave an interview in those days in which he said his girlfriend's agent submitted his first script to TNG, so not quite the slush pile.

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Old December 19 2013, 04:00 AM   #311
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

As we veer farther off topic, but for the sake of discourse (literally I guess), Christopher or others, can you elaborate on what "pitching" was like? And would you have gotten story credit and had a script written by the writers' room? Or were you hoping to sell a script too?
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Old December 19 2013, 07:39 AM   #312
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

I just googled trevanian and TNG and pitching and was surprised I couldn't find too many references, and none of them were all that complete. I was certain I had gone on at length at least 4 or 5 times online on different forums about the TNG pitch ...

I'll try writing it up again, then maybe PM you because I think I'll write it LONG this time, just so there is a complete record. It's pretty funny too, in between being tragic.
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Old December 19 2013, 08:03 AM   #313
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

trevanian wrote: View Post
I just googled trevanian and TNG and pitching and was surprised I couldn't find too many references, and none of them were all that complete. I was certain I had gone on at length at least 4 or 5 times online on different forums about the TNG pitch ...

I'll try writing it up again, then maybe PM you because I think I'll write it LONG this time, just so there is a complete record. It's pretty funny too, in between being tragic.
Maybe these?

trevanian wrote: View Post
middyseafort wrote: View Post
trevanian wrote: View Post
I'd've gotten back in to pitch again, or perhaps he'd have just bought the pitch of mine that he heard during season 4 and wanted to go with. He was overruled by Taylor at the time.

And even if he hadn't, I'd've liked the show a lot more. Moore was able to push on occasion against the strictures in place, so any additional pushing would've been a step in the right direction, a la later DS9.
What was your pitch?
I had about a dozen, all of which still exist in premise or outline or treatment form, but CROSSES TO BEAR was the first one pitched, and the one he responded strongly to. I've talked about it in old threads, but to sum up, it is something where a child dies aboardship, and the very fact that this could happen on the Enterprise (or in Star Trek) creates a kind of cascade thing in the command structure, with Riker feeling he has failed Picard since the kiddies are supposed to be his responsibility (talk about an impossible challenge.) The idea was that you'd actually see Troi doing some real counselling after Picard gets blown off by Guinan ... I've actually got the whole Picard Guinan scene in my files, and the last time I looked at it, I still liked it. I had written three full specs in the months just before this, one of which got me in to pitch, so I felt I had the character voices solid at that point.

There was a subplot aspect that intersected all this dead kid stuff, so that in order to demonstrate that Picard was dealing with the loss, he finally manages to deal with the subplot thing (I pitched two alternate subplots, one a MUF, the other a baddie ship), so it was very TOS in terms of having a plot and b plot work together instead of apart.

Moore actually argued in favor of buying it for a time after Taylor said, "picard wouldn't lose sleep over that" or words to that effect, but when she repeated it a third time, after he and she had batted it around for awhile as I remained silent, he sat back on the couch and didn't say another word for the next half-hour.

Guess I should have taken the hint, the only thing she wanted to buy was a hokey 'runner' about a surprise bday party for Picard, who always manages to be off the ship when his birthday rolls around each year, but she didn't like any of my a or b stories, so that was that.
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As much as I love some trek film music, almost none of it touches the best of the TOS series work in terms of emotional impact and the way they burnish in memory.

As for all the Bermanlove up there ... Berman didn't hire Piller, Michael Wagner did, after Berman hired him. Then Wagner bolted, and Piller fell into the job. Piller also fell afoul of GR, but I guess they all got round that by not showing him stories till they were in production (based on a bit I heard while waiting to pitch to Piller in december 1990, when GR had a rant and Piller had to go deal with it.)

Berman kept it going for awhile, but that was not a good thing.
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Old December 19 2013, 08:20 AM   #314
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Well, if you do write a longer version, trevanian, I'd love to read it.
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Old December 19 2013, 04:05 PM   #315
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Re: Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

plynch wrote: View Post
As we veer farther off topic, but for the sake of discourse (literally I guess), Christopher or others, can you elaborate on what "pitching" was like?
I'm not really a good source, since I was pretty terrible at it. The ideal is to come in with a fairly large number of ideas that can be quickly summarized, just a couple of sentences catchy enough (one hopes) to create more interest and spark a discussion about where it could be taken. But I came up with these detailed story outlines and took forever to get through them. And the detail worked against me, because there were a lot of points where my interpretation differed from how the producers saw things, or where they were turned off of a potentially good idea because it included an element they didn't like.

The closest I ever came was on my last pitch, a phone pitch to Michael Taylor when he was a junior member of the Voyager staff. I pitched an idea about the ship coming across an alien archive that contained, essentially, sentient replicas of great historical figures from across the galaxy, including Surak, and Tuvok had a crisis of faith when he discovered how different the real Surak had been from what he'd been taught. I got bogged down in the technicalities of how the replication worked, and that almost blew it for me until I said "Okay, let's forget that part, we can change it." I got far enough that Taylor said he'd bring it up in the writers' room, but I never heard back.

Anyway, I hated the pitching process. I'm too insecure... I can handle rejections in print, but it's agonizing to put an idea out there face-to-face and get it shot down verbally. But the thing about Hollywood pitches is, they have to be oral, either in person or over the phone. Because if a film or TV production asks you to write something down for them, that's effectively a binding contract and they have to pay you for what you write.

So it was after that third awkward pitch that I decided screenwriting just wasn't for me. Still, my first pitch, where I actually flew out to LA and pitched to Robert Hewitt Wolfe, was invaluable to me. Robert had been a protege of Michael Piller and picked up his focus on character above all, and he passed that along to me when I pitched. I spun these elaborately detailed plots and he kept asking, "How does it affect the characters? What's the character impact?" It was a very important lesson in writing, and I took it to heart.

Of course, then I went and developed a bunch of character-centric outlines for my VGR phone pitch, only to be told, "These are too character-focused -- the network wants more high-concept plot-driven stuff." D'oh!

I also made the mistake of pitching some Kes-centric ideas during the late third season -- i.e., at a time when they were taking submissions for fourth-season scripts. Joe Menosky gave various reasons to turn them down, but in retrospect I think he was trying to avoid revealing that Kes wouldn't be coming back. (One of my pitches had Kes going through a sort of adolescence that kicked her powers into high gear, and Menosky told me they were developing a similar story already. I guess he was talking about "The Gift.")


And would you have gotten story credit and had a script written by the writers' room? Or were you hoping to sell a script too?
The former scenario would've been more likely for a first-time seller, but the latter was certainly the hoped-for outcome, since it would've paid a lot better and been a stronger credit for the ol' CV.
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