And Back To The Ellison/City Lawsuit...

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Admiral Buzzkill, Dec 18, 2008.

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  1. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly so.

    I have no particular rooting interest, but certainly no special love for Viacom as an entity and it's always more fun to cheer for the little guy (and Ellison is a little guy). As Gene Roddenberry said at the dedication of the Roddenberry Building at Paramount in 1991 , "...Paramount...has paid me more money than I really feel I deserve -- and they earned more for themselves than I really feel they deserve!" ;)
     
  2. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He'll try.
     
  3. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And then he'll break your pelvis with a scale model of the Seaview. Happy Holidays, yuckamuck.
     
  4. Corran Horn

    Corran Horn Vice Admiral Admiral

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    When HE first noticed the Crucible books the first had already been released. He claimed he was going to get litigious and he'd decide if he'd 'let' the other two books be released.

    We've seen how that turned out.
     
  5. Marie1

    Marie1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It wouldn't be good for Pocket to lose a lot of money, as then they'd cut more people, the workload of the remaining ones would skyrocket, and the number of new books would probably be scaled back quite a bit... I for one would not enjoy that.
     
  6. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    You bring up a good point Marie. If he did win his law suit, would it have any kind of effect on the currently published or upcoming books? They wouldn't have to pull the Cruicible books or stop the publication of the omnibus would they?
     
  7. CaptJimboJones

    CaptJimboJones Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A few years ago I read Ellison's book about the whole COTEOF drama ... it was aptly titled "The City On The Edge of Forever" and featured the words "Star Trek" prominently on the cover as well as a big photo of Shatner and Nimoy on the Enterprise transporter set, which suggests that he's not all that shy himself about cribbing someone else's intellectual property to make a buck. ;)

    Regardless, after reading his lengthy "essay" that accompanies the screenplays in the book, I honestly wondered about his mental health. The writing becomes more and more ... well, unhinged as the pages go by and he tells his story about how he was persecuted by virtually everyone. It came across as the rantings of someone with some serious issues with anger and paranoia.

    Still, the guy is a great writer, no question about it. And despite the changes and editing, the core of COTEOF is still his story, and it remains of the great moments of Trek, and he deserves a lot of credit for it. I guess the court will decide if he deserves more cash as well.
     
  8. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Not if you leap into it first. Then you'll change history as we know it, and we'll all vanish in mid-
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    "Repent, Harlan!" Said the Star Trek Fan.
     
  10. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    I was trying to just move past this post, but I have to ask, are you or have you ever been a hollywood screenwriter or WGA a member? Because from what I've seen and heard most writers seem to be pretty happy with what they do (other than the stuff that the strike was over, of course). As for writers not getting enough credit, I really think this has started to change recently as we are starting to see and hear more stuff from the writers thanks to DVDs and Blogs.
     
  11. Steve Roby

    Steve Roby Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    [​IMG][​IMG]

    No words on the original hardcover edition, and "Star Trek" isn't very prominent on the paperback edition. For that matter, the cover photo is probably from Ellison's personal collection, and therefore his own property. Just to nitpick, that looks like it might be a set from "Mudd's Women."
     
  12. Dayton Ward

    Dayton Ward Word Pusher Rear Admiral

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    Man, Shatner's really coppin' a feel in that shot, ain't he?
     
  13. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I've read it myself, and no.
     
  14. Rat Boy

    Rat Boy Vice Admiral Admiral

    He was trying to finagle a make-out scene with Joan Collins in HE's next draft.
     
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Think so? Let's test that.

    Since this rumor of an impossibly expensive script keeps rearing its head, let's look at what Ellison's script called for vs. the episode we saw.

    Here's a rough breakdown of Ellison's City 1st Draft:

    CAST

    1. KIRK
    2. SPOCK
    3. RAND
    4. BECKWITH
    5. LEBEQUE
    6. EDITH KEELER
    7. TROOPER
    8. 1ST GUARDIAN
    9. RENEGADE (ON CONDOR) (4 lines)
    10. CREWMAN
    11. ORATOR
    12. JANITOR (9 lines)
    13. COOK (8 lines)
    14. TRANSPORTER CHIEF (1 line)
    15. VOICE OF TRICORDER
    That's 15 speaking parts. The aired episode had 12 listed on imdb.
    NON SPEAKING PARTS/EXTRAS
    • GUARDIANS 2 AND 3
    • 7 POOR MEN ON STREET
    • MEN ACCOMPANYING TROOPER
    • 4 SALVATION ARMY TYPES
    • MISC. PEDESTRIANS
    Ellison doesn't call for any big crowd scenes. He suggests groups of about 6-7 men, and even call out for how the same extras could be reused in several scenes (the men who chase Kirk and Spock become the fellas backing up Trooper). The aired episode has similar numbers of men in small crowds.
    SETS
    ENTERPRISE

    • BRIDGE
    • KIRK'S CABIN
    • BECKWITH'S CABIN (REDRESS OF KIRK'S)
    • CORRIDOR
    • TRANSPORTER
    The aired episode used three of these, leaving out on the cabin sets.
    GUARDIANS' PLANET

    • FLAT EXPANSE
    • GUARDIANS' PLATEAU
    The aired episode had one location
    1930 EARTH
    EXTERIORS

    • NEW YORK STREET (VARIOUS SPOTS)
    • ROOFTOP
    • ALLEY
    • BACKSTREET
    INTERIORS

    • BASEMENT
    • EDITH'S APARTMENT
    • TENAMENT STAIRWELL & VESTIBULE
    • RESTAURANT KITCHEN
    • LIMBO SET (BLACK W/ LIGHT FX)
    A similiar number of interiors to the ones in the aired episode. For the episode exteriors they shot around the Forty Acres street backlot in various places, which could just as easily served to cover the setups here.
    VISUAL EFFECTS

    • ENTERPRISE FLYBYS (STOCK)
    • TRANSPORTER EFFECT (3)
    • VORTEX EFFECT (could be anything)
    • HISTORICAL STOCK FOOTAGE SUPERIMPOSED
    • TIME VORTEX TRANSITIONS (4)
    • PHASER BEAMS (4)
    • PHASER DEMATERIALIZATION (2)
    • TIME TRANSITION EFFECT (OPTICAL PRINTER)
    • BECKWITH FATE VFX
    This is the only part of the script that's much bigger than what was aired. BUT, the finished episode had matte effects using the tricorder that are not called for in this script.
    THE GUARDIANS
    As to the Guardians, they are described as nine feet tall, terribly old (makeup) with tall mitred headpieces and shapeless robes. They're not giants talking statues. They would have been done by standing the actor and extras on boxes, making them up, and draping their robes over what they were standing on. The script calls for no ruins, no physical structure, just a spot where the vortex effect appears. This could easily have been done on the planet set with their stock rocks.


    IN SUMMARY
    The first draft would have been too expensive to do under Trek's budget, but not on an order of magnitude. And it certainly wouldn't have been a very expensive feature. Based on the above, if I had to ballpark it, I'd say the first draft, if shot, would have cost maybe 1.5 times what the final episode cost.

    By Ellison's second draft he'd already tossed Beckwith, LeBeque and the Guardians, and thrown out the whole "ship in danger crap Roddenberry had asked for, losing the Renegade and his pirate crew, and several associated transporter effects. The Guardian already became a disembodied voice.


    I could go on, but I believe I've made my point.

    If anyone wants to persist in arguing this, I'll be happy to get even more specific.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^^If it had been possible to film that script, then Bob Justman would've found a way to do it. The man was a master of economy. He was the one who had the brainstorm to set the action of Ellison's Outer Limits episode "Demon With a Glass Hand" entirely within the Bradbury Building, replacing the original chase across the city, and thereby made it feasible to shoot. No offense, but I have more faith in Justman's assessment of production feasibility than I do in yours. After all, he actually worked on the show and understood its production details, the technical possibilities and limits that existed at the time, etc.

    Besides, I'll never understand why there's such huge debate over this. First-draft scripts get rewritten all the time. It's normal. It's just silly to object to this revision process as if it were some gross violation of what's proper and just. Why don't we have this kind of discussion about the first-draft script to, say, "Spock's Brain" (which was a ton better than the episode we got)? I'll tell you why -- it's because Ellison can't do what every other TV writer can do, namely accept that revisions are normal and move on to the next project. He has to react to this entirely routine process as though it was a personal assault against his rights and spend four decades holding an irrational grudge and stirring up controversy over something that every other TV writer understands is simply a natural and routine part of the job. Scripts get rewritten. That's life.
     
  17. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Why don't you see how many multiple WGA winners you can get to go on record in this thread to see what Ellison's near-equals have to say on this matter?

    FIGHTING to preserve something good as opposed to letting everyone piss on it is as much an artist's responsibility as his option. Then again if we take your view into account, if they really do remake THE FOUNTAINHEAD in this era, maybe the guy won't blow up his own building at the end, since he'll see the wisdom of not holding a grudge and understanding how the process is "simply a natural and routine part of the job."
     
  18. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    There's a huge difference between creating artwork that you own and artwork that someone else owns. There's a huge difference between making your own TV show and working on someone else's, between playing in your own sandbox and playing in someone else's. If you are unwilling to sublimate your creative vision to another's, then you shouldn't be doing work for hire.
     
  19. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've often thought that Harlan Ellison suffered the misfortune of being born in Cleveland instead of Croydon; he'd have been happier working in British television and film than he would have been working in American television and film, because authors working on those fields have legal and moral rights there that American writers don't have. *shrug*
     
  20. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    And for big hunks of his writing life, he didn't, just to avoid these kinds of issues. When he did though, he was usually solicited, so when somebody bows and scrapes and wants your genius, and you are convinced to share some of it, then it only follows that you fight to protect that which is your own creation (and was solicited.) Why give away (or allow to be thrown away) the good stuff?

    Or is it better IYO that we should never see these unmade versions, because that somehow damages the aired versions? I'd say having as many versions as possible out there show the strengths and weaknesses of all the approaches in strong relief. For me, Ellison's draft has a certain lack of appeal in how they are supposed to locate Edith, but in so many other ways it excels. I still like the aired CITY a lot.
     
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