Fontana & Barrett Face the Fans, 1972 — FACT TREK

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Maurice, Apr 29, 2021.

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    January 1972 saw the first large Star Trek convention, Star Trek Lives!, held at the Statler-Hilton Hotel in New York City. It was the first Trek-focused con to have people from the show actually in attendance, and on Saturday the 22nd these special guests did three panels. The first we mentioned in our post "Oscar Where Are you?" Oscar Katz & Early Star Trek (link). The 2nd panel was a talk by Guest of Honor Gene Roddenberry which we transcribed and posted as 1972 Gives Us The Bird (link).

    The 3rd panel was audience Q&A featuring Dorothy Fontana and Majel Barrett. This is notable because it's probably the first large Trek fan Q&A ever done.

    As we did with the first two panels, we've transcribed the third, which we put on our blog, titled, Fontana & Barrett Face the Fans, 1972 (link).

    Screen Shot 2021-04-28 at 9.35.36 PM.png

    What we find interesting is how little these things have changed, and how even less than three years after Star Trek vanished from NBC, fans were already questioning the shows sexism ("chauvinism") and so on.

    Here's a few fun quotes:

    Dorothy Fontana: Sounds like Harlan.

    Majel Barrett: (Whispering) What’s a photon torpedo?

    Dorothy Fontana: [...]At one point, [the] research department discovered that Captain Kirk’s old girlfriends were all blonde, about the same age, built the same, and had the same way of speaking, and that was because of Gene Coon, who happened to like that type of gal.

    Dorothy Fontana: Well, let me tell you this, this is what I saw in Amanda. And by Amanda, I mean Jane Wyatt. Ms. Wyatt is the only actor, who ever— [...] In ten years of writing, who ever walked up to me on the script, introduced herself to me and said, “I wanted to tell you how much I liked your script. I really enjoyed doing this part.”​

    Transcribing this was a bear (or a Tellarite). @Harvey suffered the brunt of it. The mic in the audience constantly picked up crowd and background noise, making it difficult to hear audience questions and occasionally answers. If you read the transcript you'll see a number of [unintelligible]s. We have a link the the audio in the blog post.

    1964-02-29 Barrett Nimoy Lockwood The Lietenant "In the Highest Tradition".jpg

    A fellow named Bill Kobylak was given tape recordings of all three panels, and he generously gave us his blessing to transcribe them. So with this most recent one we complete our (painful) transcription process.

    Enjoy.
     
  2. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    Not surprising. As I've experienced in my 50th anniversary immersive retro, women's lib was really breaking out as a phenomenon in '70-'71. Many of the shows that I'm watching in 50th anniversary sync have done women's lib episodes at this point.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Oh absolutely. But we all know Trek wasn't quite the shining progressive beacon it's often claimed to be. And even Fontana says some cringey stuff in the interview.

    Dorothy Fontana: Alright. First of all, I am not a militant fem-lib.​

    Clearly not. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
  4. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    It would have been interesting, had the show stuck around a few more years, to see how it would have addressed, if at all, its progressive future falling behind the times.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, wow, definitely not. If you can find it, check out Fontana's 1977 The Fantastic Journey episode "Turnabout," where Joan Collins leads a slave women's revolt against their male enslavers, but the women prove unable to function without men and just want them to be loving instead of cruel, and they forgive their former oppressors when the men promise it’ll be different from now on. It's quite horrifying to modern eyes.

    She says a couple of cringeworthy racial things in that transcript too. "Sounds the white man cannot pronounce?" Only if you don't bloody learn how!

    It was a bit behind the times even when it was on. Or at least not as progressive as some of its contemporary shows, like The Avengers, which gave a bigger action role to its leading lady, and Mission: Impossible and I Spy, which gave bigger roles to their African-American co-leads.
     
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  6. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It is interesting how the yeoman in Harlan Ellison's early draft of CotEoF was bad ass and a protagonist (escaping Beckworth's clutches, overloading pirate equipment, jury-rigging the transporter, and taking charge of the security team) but in the redraft the yeoman just ran off to fetch the men.

    In the final version we still see Uhura in charge of the security team but it wasn't stated that she was in charge and later on, instead of being left to bravely battle with security, she's just left to fret for the men.

    Changes needed to be made to the script but the nature of those changes suggest that nobody on the writing team was militant fem-lib.
     
  7. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    GROKKING MR. SPOCK.
    While getting images for the blog post I found the attached scans of a TV Guide article that discusses Star Trek fandom and the con. I contacted the guy who scanned them and got his permission to share them, so long as I credited him, which we are happy to do. Consent is good!

    If you like, please pop over to his blog (link) and have a look around.

    1972-03-25- TV Guide - Grokking Mr Spock 01 WM.jpg 1972-03-25- TV Guide - Grokking Mr Spock 02 WM.jpg 1972-03-25- TV Guide - Grokking Mr Spock 03 WM.jpg 1972-03-25- TV Guide - Grokking Mr Spock 04 WM.jpg

    Thanks again to Mark.
     
  8. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's precious. i on the other hand--was just starting school in bama. I miss everything ;)
     
  9. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The responses were almost as cringey as some of the questions. Fans, man.

    Audience Member #29: What did Sarek see in Amanda?
    Dorothy Fontana: Well, let me tell you this, this is what I saw in Amanda. And by Amanda, I mean Jane Wyatt. Ms. Wyatt is the only actor, who ever—
    Audience Member: Actress.
    Dorothy Fontana: Actor, actress, it’s the same thing.

    Oh, 29, you dick....
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    It's either comforting or cringey that fan Q&As haven't changed one lick in 50 years.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  11. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which is why I stopped attending. I was embarrassed by association.
     
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  12. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    I attended a single con. Probably never again.
     
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  13. Noname Given

    Noname Given Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not kidding when I say that when I and friends were watching the William Shatner SNL "Get A Life" sketch, In the opening segment where they have 'fans' asking questions, and Shatner responding with 'Hey it's just just a TV show...', we are all going, so where's the parody? This looks and sounds exactly like panels we've attended...:crazy:
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Speaking of 70s cons, there's some nice footage from the 1975 con at the Americana Hotel in this Geraldo Rivera Interview with Shatner from that year. Plus (or minus, depending on your point of view) child actor and supposed Trekkie Mason Reese.
     
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  15. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Progressive attitudes have changed a great deal in just the past few years.
    To expect something from 7 decades ago to satisfy the latest requirements on human behavior is... illogical.:vulcan:
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The parody element is in Shatner blowing up at the fans rather than maintaining a diplomatic facade, I guess. Though there are probably actors who have done that at conventions.

    What's sad is how many people have vaguely heard something about Shatner insulting the fans at a convention and believe it's something that really happened, rather than a comedy sketch.
     
  17. Kirk1980

    Kirk1980 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think the value of Trek lay more with what it inspired, rather than the reality of it. A modern, critical eye can see that it wasn't as progressive in its treatment of women and minorities as the mythos proclaims. But to many (at least from what I've read and heard), it inspired them. That, I think, is what matters the most.
     
  18. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It pointed the way
     
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  19. hofner

    hofner Commodore Commodore

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    @Harvey and @Maurice, thanks for the transcriptions, I really enjoyed reading them.

    So fans were bringing up photon torpedo-like phasers and english speaking aliens even back then. I'm not really surprised but back in those days of no internet, I didn't hear of people complaining about such things. I've never been to a convention, for whatever reason I never wanted to go to one.

    I found Oscar Katz's talk interesting, I never knew they had given the network four story types to choose from and they chose the worst one for the pilot.

    Robert
     
  20. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Well, that's how Katz remembered it when he delivered this presentation.

    Roddenberry wrote 3 story outlines covering different story types and only then did the network pick the planet show with non-humanoid aliens.

    @Maurice and I are slowly working on a follow up piece putting Katz's talk in context.
     
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