How the Pentagon Rewrote Star Trek IV

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Shon T'Hara, May 29, 2016.

  1. Shon T'Hara

    Shon T'Hara Commander Red Shirt

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    I picked up a book recently called Operation Hollywood, which looks into the ways the Pentagon forces Hollywood studios to rewrite movies in exchange for cooperation on the production. There are some really ridiculous examples, like the Army objecting to Forrest Gump showing his butt to LBJ, and some frightening ones, like the Air Force trying to get the producers of Thirteen Days to rewrite history so General LeMay wouldn't come off like warmonger. (In both cases the producers decided to forego Pentagon aide.) And in all this, there's a chapter on TVH with some information I've never heard before.

    Apparently in the original script, the Bird of Prey's transporters were completely inoperable and Chekov and Uhura had to sneak into the carrier Enterprise the hard way. There was going to be a sequence with them phasering their way through fences, stunning guards and stealing key-cards to gain access to the nuclear reactor. Chekov was going to heroically stay behind to distract the marines while Uhura escaped, and then get shot when he tried to get away.

    The hospital scene was also going to be significantly different, with Navy shore patrol guarding the operating room and chasing Kirk and company through the hospital instead of SFPD. Since the transporters still weren't operational, the sequence would end with Sulu picking them up on the roof with the Huey and Kirk shooting at the Navy guards.

    When the Pentagon saw the script, their response was, "This makes us look too incompetent. Why don't you just have them beam in and out?"

    It's weird to think of Star Trek producers kowtowing to Pentagon demands, but I think the changes were probably for the best. Although it would've been fun for Koenig and Nichols to get some action, I don't think the movie really needed it, and indeed it might've ground the story to a halt. Plus the joke of the cops finding an empty elevator is a more satisfying conclusion a shootout on the roof.
     
  2. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sounds like equine excrement to me.

    Respectfully, that is.
     
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  3. Green

    Green Commander Red Shirt

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    That sounds 100% made up.
    Everybody involved has said they wanted the movie to be totally non-violent---no way they were ever having them phaser guards, etc.

    They even changed the BOP from shooting down the harpoon with phasers to tehm taking the impact with the hull--the way Greenpeace used to get in-between whales and whalers.

    Total non sense.
     
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Yeah, based on everything I've read about the making of TVH that does sound like rubbish, albeit I can see the Navy going "that makes us look incompetent".
     
  5. Shon T'Hara

    Shon T'Hara Commander Red Shirt

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    The rest of the book looks legit -- reputable publisher, interviews with directors, producers and screenwriters, images of Pentagon memos to producers -- and the TVH chapter contains extensive quotes from the alleged script draft.

    Unfortunately the author's endnotes only list the interviews he conducted, and there doesn't seem to be anyone involved with Star Trek in there, so he must've gotten his info from somebody on the military side. (He includes an anecdote about Harve Bennett trying the Pentagon's liaison by pointing out that they'd worked together on a TV movie that had been successful in burninshing the military's image during the 1970s.)
     
  6. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    It's been ages, but I've read this book, and at the time found no reason to disbelieve its account of Star Trek IV.

    Somewhere, in LA, there's a somewhat public archive that has papers related to Pentagon-Hollywood cooperation, although I've never used it.
     
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  7. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps those sequences could have been from the discarded Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes draft? From what I understand, they wrote a substantially different version of STIV (I think from when Eddie Murphy was still involved), and most of their work was thrown out and rewritten by Meyer and Bennett. Meerson and Krikes still ended up getting story credit on the finished film because of arbitration with the Writer's Guild, IIRC. I believe that Nimoy talked about this in Shatner's Star Trek Movie Memories book.
     
  8. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Still feels like cold, wet llama crap to me. At the very least, it's a massive embellishment. I could buy that the government was miffed that some of the early story lines may have made them feel insecure...but I doubt very VERY much that the "Pentagon MADE them change the script." I'd guess that the script organically changed away from certain things (due to budget or tone as it always does) and it just so happens to be coincident with things that the author can point to and declare conspiracy on.

    I'd need to see some serious sources before I'd buy this.
     
  9. Paradise City

    Paradise City Commodore Commodore

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    Eddie Murphy, lol. Oh dear. Talk about dodging a bullet.
     
  10. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The Pentagon doesn't MAKE writers do anything. But they are within their rights to ask for certain tweaks to the script if the filmmakers want military cooperation. I don't see what's so unreasonable about that.

    I mean, come on, the Pentagon's not censoring anything. The filmmakers can still write and film whatever the hell they want. If they want help, though, they have to be flexible. That's not TEH EVIL MILITARY throwing their weight around, it's just common sense. :shrug:
     
  11. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Nicholas Meyer made a film called 'The Day After' about the aftermath of a full out nuclear strike on the United States. Given the focus of the story was centered on the civilians, the film makers chose to not disclose which nation fired their missiles first. The department of defense refused to offer assistance unless the film established that the Russians were the ones who fired first. Nicholas Meyer thankfully refused to go in that direction.
     
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  12. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The only thing remotely similar I've heard had to do with them getting on board the CVN-65 Enterprise. At a Star Trek convention while they were in production, one of the announcers at the convention mentioned that - according to his sources - they get on board the aircraft carrier by buying tickets for the tour.

    Obviously, that never happened in the film, and may never have even been part of the story ever.
     
  13. Paradise City

    Paradise City Commodore Commodore

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    A national army should be non-partisan subject to executive control. It should be held to that standard. It is disconcerting that they are making peculiar demands on the creative process as a condition for their support. I don't think anyone is accusing them of some extraordinary abuse of jurisdiction here, it's just peculiar. An army shouldn't have these kind of biases, that's more the property of elected representatives.

    I think armies giving logistical support to some studio's private money-making scheme, whilst in common practice around the world, to be a bad practice myself.
     
  14. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Neither the Pentagon, nor any other organization, is obligated to provide support.

    Like I said, filmmakers can still write whatever they want. Nobody is being censored. If they can't get their film made without aid from the military? That's their problem.

    Filmmakers have the absolute right of free speech, of course. We're not disputing that. But they don't have the right to have their films paid for. They want military aid? They had better play by military rules.
     
  15. trekyourself

    trekyourself Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    So in order for this to seem true, can we establish exactly what star trek even needed help from the Pentagon with?
     
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    For Star Trek IV they needed to shoot on a US Navy base and ship. That's why they'd need "help". That doesn't make this guy's suggestion credible.

    Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes did not write ANYTHING of the screenplay that was shot by Leonard Nimoy, and studios are not in the habit of sending in-development scripts out, so you can forget the idea that it was their early/abandoned work which was "reviewed" by the Navy.
     
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  17. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Writer and occasional starship commander Premium Member

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    That Navy base being NAS North Island in Coronado, San Diego (my hometown). The ship being the U.S.S. Ranger, a non-nuclear carrier, which stood in for the Big E. I remember there being a big splash made about STAR TREK filming at the base in the local news.
     
  18. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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  19. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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  20. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    What I got is that the book is primarily composed of unsourced anecdotes repeated for maximum effect. In my mind, that's not an authoritative source for anything more significant than idle gossip.
     
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