"Planet of the Titans" Revisited

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Maurice, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. Data Holmes

    Data Holmes Admiral Admiral

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    I would love to see a book of all the work RA&A did on TMP before they got pulled. From what I've seen it's some amazing stuff.
     
  2. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What stuff? Concept art?

    I think a topic like this one about the ASTRA (aka RA&R) work would be cool, and maybe I'll start one: but, again I don't want this thread to get off topic, and TMP isn't the subject
     
  3. leandar

    leandar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm forced to wonder if Gene might not have used this as a sort of "work from this direction" sort of thing when they were developing the Galaxy-class for TNG cause there's several things on this proto-design that I can see probably getting incorporated later into the Galaxy-class.


    I love this asteroid docking bay and hope it gets used someday in Star Trek.
     
  4. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
  5. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I just found this long quote I'm pasting in below at mania.com/remaking-star-trek-part-5-into-black-hole_article27017.html

    . If any attempt to do so seemed likely to happen, it would probably be the one initiated in July of 1976. Jerry Eisenberg was hired as producer, with Phil Kaufman (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE RIGHT STUFF) directing. Scripting were a pair of English writers named Allan Scott and Chris Bryant, whose credits included DON'T LOOK NOW and JOSEPH ANDREWS. Their experience in science fiction was non-existent, but what they lacked in knowledge, they made up for in enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn.

    Harlan Ellison voiced his disbelief over the hiring of these particular writers. 'God knows what they're going to do. I mean, it's insanity to get two English writers who write very toney, European scripts to come in and do what is basically an action-adventure movie. I don't know what pompous aesthetics they're going to throw in. All STAR TREK has ever been is an elaborate shoot 'em up, and confusing it with the BHAGAVAD GITA only muddles its waters. The thing that made some of the TV episodes so unbearable was the pretentiousness.'

    Roddenberry didn't agree. 'I'm very excited about some of the ideas they've come up with. The concept that only a science fiction writer can write science fiction motion pictures is ridiculous. Look at me. I came up with STAR TREK, and I was a dramatic writer. I wrote for TV.'

    Kaufman, in particular, was thrilled with the prospect of being involved. 'George Lucas is a good friend of mine,' he had told one reporter. 'He told me before he made STAR WARS he'd made inquiries as to whether STAR TREK was available to be bought. I thought George had a great thing going. When I was asked if I would be interested in doing STAR TREK, well...I felt I could go through the roof.

    'My agent called me up,' he continued, 'and said, 'What would you like to do?' I said I would like to do a science fiction movie. And he said, 'Well, I'm sure you wouldn't want to do STAR TREK.' I said, 'Wait a second--they're making a movie out of STAR TREK?' He said, 'Yeah, but they're gonna make a 2 or 3 million dollar quickie.' I told him, 'I don't think they really know what they've got there if that's what they're going to do. Let's explore it.' Right away I got a call from Jerry Eisenberg, who had been put in charge. We talked, and I came down and met with him first and then with Gene Roddenberry. In the process of getting involved with the project, I moved it up from being a small project into a $10 million picture.'

    In addition to all of this, the original cast had essentially been signed to reprise their original roles, with the exception of Leonard Nimoy, who at the time had refused all interviews pertaining to STAR TREK. William Shatner, however, had no problem in discussing the situation. 'Leonard Nimoy has a beef, and it's a legitimate one,' Shatner said in 1976. 'It's about the merchandising, and it's something that irks me as well. Our faces appear on products all over the country, all over the world, and we've not really been compensated fairly for it. Leonard was walking in London, England. He stopped to look at a billboard. The billboard's divided into three sections. The first section is Leonard's face with the ears--Spock--the ears are drooping. The second section of the billboard has Leonard, with the drooping ears, holding a tankard of ale. The third section has an empty tankard of ale, and Leonard's face, with pointed ears straight up in the air. So Leonard and I have had this battle, with whoever licenses STAR TREK, for a long time. I mean, kids are walking around with my face on their shirts. Occasionally I see a postcard with my face on it. People are exploiting us. So anyway, Leonard goes back to the studio and says, 'There's a demeaning billboard of me out there. Did you guys okay it?' So he goes to his lawyer and tries to sue. Right now Paramount wants Leonard, and Leonard wants fair recompense. It's only reasonable that Paramount meet his demands. Something has happened here. Someone has made a lot of money from the show, and the people who were the show have seen very little of it. I think Leonard is totally in the right.'

    While Nimoy would eventually agree to do this attempted resurrection of STAR TREK, the format would again be changed and he would again drop out. As time went on, it seemed as though the problems facing cast and crew were unending, yet despite all this, Roddenberry remained optimistic. 'I'm very pleased with the way the film is going,' he enthused at the time. 'We've just signed Phil Kaufman--who's done many fine films--to direct. Things really began to change around here when the studio shifted its power base and David Picker took charge. He put Jerry Eisenberg in command of the film, and Jerry knows how to deal with the front office quite well. Once these men entered the picture, things began to move quite smoothly.

    'It's taking more time than usual to come up with a good script, because we're faced with some unusual problems. This is not just another movie--this is STAR TREK. A lot of people in the business have said to me, 'Hey, it should be easy to do the film. Just do an extended TV episode. You've done lots already; just do it again.' Well, I didn't want to do it that way. A movie is different from a TV show in a lot of ways. For one thing, the audience has made an investment in the film. They've shelled out money for the ticket, as well as for parking, baby-sitters, maybe dinner. They don't want to see a TV show on the screen. They're a captive audience, and they want something special. It's like getting a book and finding out it's lousy. If you've been given it as a present, you figure, gee, since I got it for free, it's no big deal that it's bad. But if you've paid $8.95 for it, you get a little pissed off.

    'With the STAR TREK script, we have defined personalities and really can't do anything contrary to the behavior patterns we've already established in the past. We're finding out that it's easier to work from scratch in terms of a storyline, but because all the details of the film are so well known already, it's getting harder and harder to come up with something new. I don't know what we'll finish with at this point, but I'm sure it will be a film that has a lot of entertainment value--action, adventure and a little comedy. I want a 2001.'

    Unfortunately, he didn't get it, although it wasn't from a lack of trying. The Scott-Bryant screenplay opens with the Enterprise investigating a distress signal sent from the USS DaVinci. By the time they arrive in that quadrant of space, the other starship is gone. Suddenly, Kirk's brain is struck by electromagnetic waves, which results in erratic behavior and his commandeering a shuttlecraft. He pilots it towards an invisible planet and disappears. Three years later, Spock leads an expedition back to that area of space, and they discover what they believe to be the planet of the Titans, an ancient but highly advanced race that had been thought extinct. Problem is that the planet is being drawn towards a black hole, and it becomes a race against time between the Federation and the Klingons, who are both interested in that particular world. The one who saves the planet will receive the fruits of their knowledge.

    On the planet's surface, Spock discovers Kirk, who has been living there as a wild man. However, the captain is restored to normal in short order, and together they discover that the planet is actually populated by the evil Cygnans, a race who have destroyed the Titans. The story concluded with Kirk, in an effort to destroy the hostile Cygnans, ordering the Enterprise into the black hole. As Susan Sackett noted in THE MAKING OF STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, 'During the trip through the black hole, the Cygnans are destroyed and the Enterprise emerges in orbit around Earth. But it is Earth at the time of the Cro-Magnon man, the dawn of humanity. The ancient Titans, it would seem, were the men of the Enterprise.'

    Jon Povill, who had shifted into the background as Gene Roddenberry's assistant, noted the project with interest, though he wasn't convinced it was right for STAR TREK's debut on the movie screen. 'It was an interesting script in a certain sort of way,' Povill explains. 'It was not Star Trek. People would have gone to see it, and it would have done as well as we did with STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, but it's just as well that it didn't get made. Chris and Alan even felt that it was something that wasn't quite successful. They didn't feel they had brought off a script that was just right. They didn't feel confident about it. Then Phil Kaufman decided that he wanted to take a run at the script. His treatment was, I think, worse than the script. Then the whole thing kind of fell apart.'

    It's been over a decade and a half since the Scott-Bryant script had been written, and while Allan Scott cannot recall the specifics of the storyline, he has no trouble remembering his involvement with the proposed film. 'Jerry Eisenberg brought us into the project,' says Scott. 'He was going to be the producer at the time. We came out and met with him and Gene. We talked about it, and I think the only thing we agreed on at the time was that if they were going to make Star Trek as a motion picture, we should try and go forwards as it if were from the television series. Take it into another realm, if you like, into another dimension, and to that end we were talking quite excitedly about a distinguished film director and Phil Kaufman's name came up. We all thought that was a wonderful idea, and we met with him. Phil is a great enthusiast and very knowledgeable about science fiction, and we did a huge amount of reading. We must have read thirty science fiction books of various kinds. At that time we also had that guy from NASA, who was one of the advisors on the project, Jesco von Puttkamer. He was at some of the meetings, and Gene was at all of the meetings.

    'We were under instructions at the time,' he adds, the passage of years unclouding a bit, 'that they had no deal with William Shatner, so in fact the first story draft we did eliminated Captain Kirk. It was only a month or six weeks later when we were called and told that Kirk was now aboard and should be one of the lead characters. So all that work was wasted. At that time, Chris and I would sit in a room and talk about story ideas and notions, and talk them through with either Phil or Gene. Without any ill feelings on any part, it became clear to us that there was a divergence of view of how the movie should be made between Gene and Phil. I think Gene was quite right in sticking by not so much the specifics of STAR TREK but general ethics of it. I think Phil was more interested in exploring a wider range of science fiction stories, and yet nonetheless staying faithful to STAR TREK. There was definitely a tugging on the two sides between them. One of the reasons it took us so long to come up with a story was because things like that would change. If we came up with some aspects that pleased Gene, they often didn't please Phil and vice-versa. We were kind of piggies in the middle.'

    It's pointed out that in many instances there was a similar situation between Roddenberry and director Robert Wise on STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. 'I would imagine,' Scott replies earnestly. 'Eventually we got to a stage where we more or less didn't have a story that everybody could agree on, and we were in very short time of our delivery date. Chris and I decided that the best thing we could do was take all the information we had absorbed from everybody, sit down and hammer something out. In fact, we did a fifteen or twenty page story in a three-day time period. I guess amendments were made to that in light of Gene and Phil's recommendations, but already we were at a stage by then that the thing was desperate if we were going to make the movie according to the schedule that was given to us. We made various amendments; we went to the studio with it, and they turned it down.

    'We never heard the reasons that it was turned down. I think other political things intervened, and I think the management at Paramount changed as well. I'm almost sure that at that time Michael Eisner came in and David Picker left, and I think that may have been as significant as anything else that may have happened. Our working relationship with Gene was very good and very friendlysimilarly with Phil. The only thing I can remember about the story itself is the ending, and I truly don't remember anything else but the ending. It involved primitive man on Earth, and I guess Spock or the crew of the Enterprise inadvertently introduced primitive man to the concept of fire. As they accelerated away, we realized that they were therefore giving birth to civilization as we know it. That's the only thing I can remember. I know a black hole was very important to the story. I guess it was through the black hole that they ended up in time warp.'

    Although there had been a slight feeling of intimidation at the outset, this quickly faded as the writing duo got further involved. 'I think as time wore on, we became less intimidated and much more absorbed in the STAR TREK ethic,' Scott concurs. 'You can't work on that project with Gene and not become involved with it. The difficulty for us was trying to make, as it were, an exploded episode of STAR TREK that had its own justifications in terms of the new scale that was available to it, because much of the show's charm was the fact that it dealt with big and bold ideas on a small budget, and of course the first thing that a movie would do, potentially, was match the budget and scale of the production to the boldness and vigor of the ideas. Of course we spent weeks looking at every episode of STAR TREK, and I would guess that more or less every member of the cast came by and met us.

    'We were surprised that it didn't go, because it seemed that it would. It was absolutely a 'go' picture. But it was a very exciting project to be involved with. I'm sorry it didn't work, because we would have enjoyed it even more if it had. We had a lot of fun, and it was really an enjoyable time. I don't feel unhappy about it at all. It was just one of those deals that happens at studios from time to time that fell down the middle.'

    Phil Kaufman's reaction to the cancellation of the film was not quite so idealistic. 'We were dealing with important things,' he said. 'Things that George [Lucas] has a smattering of in STAR WARS. We were dealing a lot with Olaf Stapledon. There were chapters in LAST AND FIRST MEN that I was basing STAR TREK on. That was my key thing. Gene and I disagreed on what the nature of a feature film really is. He was still bound by the things that he had been forced into by lack of money and by the fact that those times were not into science fiction the way they are now. Gene has a very set way of looking at things. My feeling always was that he was anchored in a 10-year-old TV show which would not translate for a feature audience ten years later with all that had been done and could potentially be done in a feature scope. For years I had walked around San Francisco with George Lucas talking about what he was doing. I knew what the potential of this kind of stuff was.' Perhaps most shocking to him was the feeling that Paramount canceled the film because of the success of STAR WARS, which was released in May of 1977, and the belief that they had blown their opportunity at the box office. 'They didn't even wait to see what STAR WARS would do,' Kaufman said incredulously. 'I don't think they tried to understand what the phenomenon of STAR TREK was.'

    'We considered the project for years,' summed up then Paramount president Barry Diller. 'We've done a number of treatments, scripts, and every time we'd say, 'This isn't good enough.' If we had just gone forward and done it, we might have done it quite well. In this case [the Scott-Bryant-Kaufman version], it was the script. We felt, frankly, that it was a little pretentious. We went to Gene Roddenberry and said, 'Look, you're the person who really understands STAR TREK. We don't. But what we should probably do is return to the original context, a television series.' If you force it as a big 70-millimeter widescreen movie, you go directly against the concept. If you rip STAR TREK off, you'll fail, because the people who like STAR TREK don't just like it. They love it.'
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^Thanks for posting that, Trevanian. It's funny how contradictory this stuff is. One source says there was a script, another says there was a treatment. Curiouser and curiouser.

    Back to Bryant and Scott. Susan Sackett quotes a few of their memos. Here's a funny one.

    I don't think so. The "D" was inspired by a sketch of Andy Probert's of a ship with low slung flattened nacelles.

    Back to the topic at hand...
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
  7. Good Will Riker

    Good Will Riker Admiral

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    What a coincidence...

    The first 3 words of that sentence are Rick Berman's favorite words. ;)
     
  8. cardinal biggles

    cardinal biggles Be Here. Aloha. Premium Member

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    There's nothing wrong with being very pleased. It's only when someone beats that phrase into the ground while Rome burns around them that it becomes a punchline.
     
  9. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^Yep, the inspiration there is pretty clear. In fact, it's almost too close to have been coincidence. Ironically, I think the painting version still looks cooler.
     
  11. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Considering Roddenberry said it just before the production of the film went down in flames... :lol: Glad to see the phrase has a provenience.

    He certainly was full of his own accomplishments, wasn't he? :p
     
  12. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well the most striking thing about this "idea" is when I was with another Star Trek fan and we listening to tunes in the car. The song that came up was "Cygnus X-1" from Rush, so I started explaining the song, and its sequel "Hemispheres." The two tracks have a very similar premise to this series.
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And what "series" are you talking about?

    I'm quite familiar with both songs. In fact, a friend of mine wanted to do an animated film to the former.

    Their similarity to the premise seems limited to someone going into a black hole and ending up in the distant past and affecting human history: which means they have a punchline in common, not a story.

    It should be pointed out that both songs were released (Sept. 1977 and and October 1978, respectively) after Planet of the Titans was aborted, lest anyone think there was borrowing going on.
     
  14. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Are any of the musicians Bay Area based? I mean, the mythological aspect sounds Kaufmannesque, and the logic-emotion division mentioned in the wiki thread you cited certainly sounds like something at the heart of traditional trek.
     
  15. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So do I because the PoT painting appears to be more than just a spacedock, but an entire space habitat.
     
  16. Starlock

    Starlock Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  17. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Last edited: Sep 25, 2008
  18. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which is why he has an email address on his website? :confused:
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You'll notice the email is info@ralphmcquarrie.com and not a name. He's got someone who runs the site for him, apparently.

    I checked my old email... I sent an email to that address 4 years ago, got a reply that said my message was passed on to Ralph, and I never heard another thing. *shrug*
     
  20. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I sent something to his site last year, asking if they might caption those trek pics, and got a reply from whoever does the site, saying that was part of the ongoing process, but no further elaboration, although I asked a few other questions as well. Might be a part-time thing.

    I had his home phone number back in 95 when I was doing a retrospective on the first SW, but I guess he is seriously press-shy; he never responded to any interview inquiries.