The Roddenberry Reputation

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Ssosmcin, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    Personally, I never believed Ellison's claim on that. Gene Roddenberry never struck me as having that kind of juice and Harlan had too many working relationships with too many other producers -some of whom (Sam Rolfe for instance) didn't care for Roddenberry and surely wouldn't join him in trying to "blacklist" anyone. Also, as litigious and "tough guy" as Ellison has been made out to be this claim of fearing a "blacklist" just rings hollow to my ears (and always has).
     
  2. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    To me though this serves as a valuable teaching tool by taking someone familier and allowing us to see the forces of human nature at work. Myth making is as old as our species on Earth (and possibly beyond!). Every leader of every movement of any kind did it (or at least their followers) - even Ghandi and his devotees (extra points for linking Roddenberry and Ghandi!).

    It is by taking these small instances and fitting them into the bigger picture that we gain wisdom. So please folks, don't get angry by any of it or to cheat yourselves from the lessons it can teach ... use these to glean something good from it and pass on what you find. Use this event to give you the tools to look around and spot the modern day myth making.

    Maybe start a thread in the appropriate folder to share thoughts and examples of this phenomenon.
     
  3. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Taking into account the fact that Ellison was already persona non grata at ABC courtesy Adriam Samish and would remain so for another couple years, any such threat seems all too real to me.

    Plus he just ain't got no reason to lie about it. If you think about it, just about everybody seems to have deceived Ellison during his trek experience, except maybe Nimoy & Kelley ... I mean DC Fontana didn't cop to rewriting him for decades, and I used to have an issue of CINEFANTASTIQUE that has a letter from her specifically denying her involvement in any rewriting on CITY.

    I'm very big on Ellison's nonfiction writing, less so for his screenwriting by a little bit, with his fiction lower than that (still way up there though.) I've only come across a couple of instances where there seems to be any real inconsistency or sense of duplicity in his accounting and recounting of affairs, and I'd bet they were errors of memory rather than a sense of revisionism and making himself look good.

    I'm pretty sure the guy respects THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALLANCE enough to never want to contribute to 'print the legend' they way so many others in the entertainment biz (and I include politics in that category) do.
     
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Just because I found it at the moment, the passage in question is on page 73 of the book. It indicates that polishing stones was a hobby of both Eileen and Gene Roddenberry.

    --

    I've seen Ellison in person twice, and he's struck me as a straight-shooter. Considering the fact that Ellison was always protective of his work -- he used the Cordwainer Bird pseudonym on a number of television episodes he was dissatisfied with -- the use of his real name on Star Trek is a bit odd, especially since he was vocally dissatisfied with the final episode.

    In light of that, his is the only explanation that makes sense.
     
  5. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't doubt that Ellision may have been worried about his reputation and previous experiences limiting his future opportunities. I do not believe he feared Gene Roddenberry or placed much stock in any threat he may have made. Even what you say indicates he was more afraid of this being perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back and not GR per se.


    Nothing causes me to question something more than when they say that.

    I'm sorry but Ellison was a seasoned pro, and I don't think he was decieved - at least to the extent some would put forth. You and others can believe as you wish.

    And the bottom line is that for whatever reason Gene Roddenberry as series' creator/executive-producer had every right to have Harlan's script re-written. He invoked that right - nothing wrong in that. Ellison really had no justification to over-react - especially to the extent I feel he has. He was a big boy (figuratively speaking).

    From what I've read, quite a few hands did re-write work on his Trek script. As for DC Fontana, I don't blame her. Ellison can, from what I've read, be a rather unrelenting, abrasive and argumentative person. Who wants that headache?

    I've enjoyed his fiction and some of his television work. I've read only a few of his nonfiction pieces and have no complaints. In terms of talent, I think highly of Ellison.

    And I respect the fact we see things differently.
     
  6. Danger Ace

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    I've seen him in person myself. He was very entertaining. Being blunt doesn't automatically equate to "straight-shooter," IMO.


    To varying degrees.

    Someone once said, "the best lies are the ones that are closest the truth." Now, I am not saying anyone here specifically lied, however, I do not believe, based on past accounts given, that Ellison was threatened by GR's "influence" or "reach" within the industry. Why would he flip him off at the WGA awards if he feared the wrath of Roddenberry? That makes no sense to me.

    Now, if he said he feared Herb Solow then I'd buy it.

    If he had said GR was livid and threatened to pound him into the dirt I'd believe it.

    If he said that out of fear that this situation may have proved to be the "straw that broke the camel's back" in terms of finding future work in Hollywood then I'd buy that.

    If he said, because of the building Trek mystique he feared fan backlash then I'd buy that too.

    But Ellison tangled with others in tinsel town, what made Roddenberry so different?

    Again, I think Harlan kept his name attached to Star Trek out of fear, but just not of the Great Bird.
     
  7. JoeD80

    JoeD80 Captain Captain

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    As detailed in the Inside Star Trek book, Ellison did tell the Star Trek producers to use his Cordwainer Bird pseudonym. It was they who went to him to ask to use his real name.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
  8. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Not to cast additional aspersions, but IST's stories regarding Ellison are only partly accurate, and even in correspondence with HE after the book was out were misreading his comments.
     
  9. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    If GR had physically threatened him, GR would have gone down. With teeth in his throat. That is the kind of challenge he couldn't possibly have let stand.

    As for the flipping off thing, hey, it was the last laugh. The show was done, badmouthing HE after he won for his version of the script would have made GR look a fool twice over.

    Just for the record, I really like CITY as aired. I think that's due to Coon in part - I have a tendency to credit him with everything I like about TOS, which I admit is a bit overboard, but w/o Coon, I don't think you even get season 2, let alone syndication or movies or internet boards.

    But I really don't think the omission of HE's Trooper was in any way merited by the demands of making it a Trek story. The other changes, to one degree or other, yeah. But not that.

    And to back up and go over the Fontana thing again ... if somebody is your friend, and your friend for some period of time -- and I'm not saying acquaintaince, I mean 'friend' in the sense of someone who has put it on the line for you, or done you solids without thought of return on that -- you don't lie to them about messing with their work, and certainly not for decades. If you've read Ellison and Gerrold, you'll see that they had ups and downs, same for Koenig and Ellison, and probably everybody and Ellison. But if the friendship is real, and they are ethical parties, the relationship holds. Why Fontana seems to have wilted on this point is just really troubling to me. I remember feeling bad for badmouthing her Trek novel, because I admired her in many ways, but this one thing has kind of cast a lot of doubts about her in all directions.
     
  10. Danger Ace

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    I absolutely, 100% agree with the above. I tend to credit much of what I found compelling in TOS to stem from Gene Coon's pen. I too liked "City on the Edge of Forever" as aired.

    I guess here is where we may differ.

    First and foremost, It was up to GR to be the ultimate arbiter of what he felt was or wasn't in keeping with his vision. He was Roddenberry the creator.

    Ellison had no right, moral or otherwise, to try and dictate to the executive-producer what his series' should be. None. Whether it was Trooper or the drug angle it was GR's ship to captain and for Ellison to do his job without complaint.

    Secondly, I trust Justman's account on the price-tag issue as it was his job to budget out the episodes. On this point, I feel HE has zero standing or credibility.

    Thirdly, For me to fully believe Harlan Ellison's version, as he presents and frames his case, I would have to believe all attached to TOS were rotten SOB's (save Nimoy and McCoy). I simply do not believe that.

    All those with influence over TOS wanted to embrace Ellison's script. They looked forward to it - anticipating it would be magic and production ready. Robert Justman stated he loved it but couldn't make the math work - I believe he sincerely tried his best and was an honorable human being.

    Again taking into account all the various stories regarding HE's temperment and personality why did he put Fontana in a spot wherein she felt she had to tell a falsehood? He knew her job duties. Harlan knew it was part of her job to work on other peoples' scripts as directed, why did he cross-the-line and make it an issue that could and would affect their friendship?

    For me, considering Harlan had probably re-written others in previous jobs then it is pure hokum to raise a fuss when he got re-written. He was a pro and he knew the deal.

    Way back when, I agreed with Mark Hamill regarding Ellison being the Don Rickles of science-fiction -That's his schtick. He kept all this "City on the Edge" thing going because it sold and he milked it for all it's worth (and more). Like a pro-wrestler he strove to turn his fans into "marks."

    And again, it was unethical and unprofessional for Ellison to put Fontana in the spot he did.
     
  11. JoeD80

    JoeD80 Captain Captain

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    What are you referring to? Was this some specific incident?
     
  12. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Would you quote the unflattering thing that Berman has publicly said about Gene Roddenberry?
     
  13. Danger Ace

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    I was responding to something Trevanian(sp?) made issue of in the post preceeding mine wherein, taking at face value what he said in terms of DC Fontana having a prolonged falling out with Harlan Ellison over re-writes done to his "City on the Edge" teleplay. I was responding in principle.
     
  14. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed. Certainly the producers of TNG could say unflattering things about the original series, but that began with Roddenberry. As for the man himself, I don't think anyone who stuck with the sequel series bad mouthed Roddenberry. It was more like "Roddenberry's vision" this and "Roddenberry's vision" that.
     
  15. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I guess I wasn't too clear. There was no falling-out between Ellison and Fontana to my knowledge, certainly not over CITY. That's because until the 90s, HE didn't know Fontana had rewritten the script.

    to quote from TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING (recently released on blu-ray, don't fault me for plugging it, damn few people even know the movie exists and I think only one other person on the planet likes it as much as me), I assume at that point it was all "blood over the dam," that there was no ill-will at that point.

    My issue is that friendship over time should not be predicated on a falsehood that revolves around one person screwing with the work of another and not owning up to it. Let me emphasize this, it is the not owning up to it, and even publicly in print denying her involvement, that I find troubling. Certainly it was her job to fix what the producers felt she needed fixing, there's no debate there.
     
  16. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I'd say you need to qualify that. If you're saying something bad about TOS, you may be saying something negative about GR indirectly, but Berman always made a distinction between addressing what he perceived as failings or disappointments on TOS -- he seems to have a memory of too many gods in togas, from what I recall -- and the way he always talked up GR's much touted vision in a positive way.

    Berman was always too much Paramount's guy (regardless of how he paints himself as a creative) to speak his mind in a way that could be perceived as hurtful to the franchise. Knocking TOS for being less than he could appreciate (largely on the basis of art direction and budget, fer chrissake!) was probably an okay way to distance his ModernTrek from TOS, and since they were abandoning the still somewhat viable TOS cast in favor of TNG movies, those kinds of statements wouldn't have found disfavor with Paramount either, as it seems to support what they would have considered 'the winner' or frontrunner in the Trekverse.
     
  17. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Speaking of myth busting, according to Harvey's research, City appears as it may not to have been the most expensive episode of the series (pilots not included). That honor appears to go to (drumroll please) Assignment: Earth, which on the face of it had a production budget $38,000 higher than City's.
     
  18. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Part of that would be the cost of building what Roddenberry expect to be standing sets for a new scifi series. So their construct cost would have been somewhat higher, they were more than the usual "cardboard."

    And there would have been the storage costs until Roddenberry learn for sure the series didn't sell.

    :)
     
  19. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    What new standing sets?

    The only new set would've been Seven's office which was pretty standard except for his computer which mostly was the reuse of M-5.
     
  20. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I'm not seeing the high cost on a:e at all -- unless the price of NASA stock footage was some obscene amount, which is unlikely given that I DREAM OF JEANNIE must have been tapping the same source on a regular basis.

    Would love to see a breakdown on that to see where the money went.