Cover image for Star Trek, the next generation--the continuing mission : a tenth anniversary tribute
Title:
Star Trek, the next generation--the continuing mission : a tenth anniversary tribute
Author:
Reeves-Stevens, Judith.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xv, 300 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 31 cm
General Note:
"Featuring an all-new chapter on Star Trek: Insurrection!"--cover.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780671025595
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PN1992.8.S74 R4552 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
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Summary

Summary

Features seven hundred previously unseen illustrations and photographs, focusing on the creation of the series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, from its writers and artists to its actors and special effects designers. Reprint.


Author Notes

She is the author of William Shatner's bestselling Star Trek novels and are well-loved Star Trek authors in their own right--their hardcover Star Trek books include "Star Trek: Prime Directive", "Star Trek: Federation" and "The Art of Star Trek".

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

For The Next GenerationR's tenth anniversary: a Trekkie feast with over 750 photos. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One Roddenbury's Revenge -- The First Twenty Years To know him was to be passionate about him, either for or against. As is the case for many creative, driven, visionary people, there was little room for middle ground in how Gene Rodenberry was perceived. That such a dichotomy exists is no surprise in Hollywood. It is a truism that producers are never anyone's friend when they're producers. They become, instead, a driven machine that has to get a show on the air, no matter the casualties left by the side of the road. In the high-pressure environment of television and movie production, a producer's personal relationships with those who work with him almost inevitably become strained, especially when decisions regarding money, creative input, and credit must be made, often strictly for reasons of business and personal career management. In the course of his life, like any other producer, Roddenberry made his share of tough decisions, and in true Hollywood fashion, some friendships were strengthened by them, and some crumbled. Tellingly, though, whether their relationship with him was one of love or hate, what almost everyone agrees with is that Roddenberry was indeed a man of vision. As Star Trek scripter, television writer, and novelist David Gerrold describes him, "Gene's first strength was that he could inspire people. He could get people to do what needed to be done. His second great skill was that he could 'speak' a vision of what the show should be. He'd get writers in there and he'd say, 'I want you to tell me a story that no one else will let you tell, that thing that sticks in your craw, and you just have to say it.' Writers would get so inspired by hearing that speech that they would come in and write stories that were better than they were capable of. And his best skill of all, and he never knew what a skill it was, was he could pick brilliant people." What Gerrold has described is the perfect portrait of the skills a successful producer must have, and a successful producer is exactly what Gene Roddenberry was. But before he was a producer, Roddenberry had begun his Hollywood career as a writer, and in the tradition of the great writers of television's Golden Era, writing was not Roddenberry's first job. He had been a bomber pilot in World War II, and a pilot for Pan Am in the years following. Writing was a dream he had always nurtured, along with his love of science fiction. But it was not until 1948, at the age of twenty-seven, that Roddenberry came to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a television writer. Again, as for most writers, success did not come immediately, and within six months of arriving in LA, Roddenberry sought a more secure job by joining the Los Angeles Police Department. However, he held himself to a self-imposed schedule of writing, including composing articles for the LAPD's own internal magazine, and his police experience later became his first entree into the field of television writing when he began selling stories to Jack Webb's production company to be used as the basis for episodes of Dragnet. Fortunately, Roddenberry did not keep his writing aspirations hidden from his friends on the force. In 1953, when his captain was contacted about the LAPD providing a technical consultant for the series Mr. District Attorney, Roddenberry was given the assignment. Ever ready to recognize an opportunity, after studying the show he quickly made his first script sale to the producer. More sales followed, and just over two years later, Roddenberry made the momentous decision to resign from the LAPD and become a full-time writer. Sales continued to a variety of series -- I Led Three Lives, Highway Patrol, The West Side Story, Bat Masterson, and twenty-four episodes of Have Gun Will Travel, of which one, "Helen of Abajinian," won the prestigious Writers' Guild Award for 1957. By 1960, Roddenberry had what's called a development deal at Screen Gems to create pilots for new series. In September 1963, his first "created by" credit appeared, on the NBC series The Lieutenant. Then, in September 1966, barely ten years after his decision to pursue writing full-time, the first episode of the series destined to earn a permanent place in the culture of the twentieth century -- and of grossing more than $2 billion according to Entertainment Weekly -- aired on the same network. Star Trek was born. Three years later it was dead. In television terms, a failure. But, as the Klingons say, bortaS blr jablu'Dl'reH QaQqu' nay'. Revenge is a dish which is best served cold. Roddenberry's ultimate revenge, decades later, would be positively subarctic. Star Trek folklore maintains that the year after NBC canceled the series, the networks changed their system of measuring ratings from one in which the total number of viewers mattered, to one in which the composition of the audience was assessed. In analyzing the data which showed that Star Trek had enjoyed a strong following among young males, one of the advertising industry's most avidly sought group of consumers, an NBC executive is reported to have said that if the network had based its decisions on demographics one year earlier, Star Trek would never have been canceled. But Star Trek 's appeal to a young and growing market did not remain hidden. What had been deemed a failure on network television became a sensation in the syndication market. Airing on independent stations, or in non-prime-time hours, the series that had been ahead of its time had a second chance to find its audience. And that audience grew larger and more appreciative each season. In the years that followed Star Trek 's cancellation, Roddenberry worked hard to develop new series, especially in the realm of science fiction. Two-hour television movies, produced as "backdoor pilots," were made for The Questor Tapes and Spectre. As was done for the original Star Trek, two different television movie/pilot episodes were made from the same starting premise -- as Genesis II and Planet Earth. But success in television can be fickle, and none of these new series was picked up. Roddenberry himself recalled the 1970s as lean years. He often told the story that, at one point in that period, he could have purchased all rights to Star Trek for only $100,000 -- at the time a sum he could not come close to raising. But during those lean seventies, Roddenberry found he could augment his income by making appearances at a rapidly growing phenomenon -- Star Trek conventions. These gatherings of devoted fans of the series had spun off from science-fiction conventions and, in the years following the series' cancellation, they acquired a life of their own. It was in these conventions that the seeds of Star Trek 's rebirth were sown. Paramount Pictures is the studio that acquired the rights to Star Trek when it purchased Desilu, the company that had produced The Original Series. Paramount executives, inspired by the turnout of fans at Star Trek conventions, and by the stellar syndication ratings, knew that the property had market appeal. Over many years, several attempts were made to bring the series back. In 1972, an animated series continuing the adventures of Kirk's Starship Enterprise was produced in conjunction with Filmation, with Roddenberry as executive consultant. Though the twenty-two episodes do not hold up to today's animation standards, they were critically acclaimed at the time. After the animated series, several attempts to produce a Star Trek movie proved little more than false starts. Paramount provided Roddenberry with an office on the lot, yet rejected not only his movie scripts, but those of other writers as well. Finally, in 1977, a business decision by Paramount Chairman and CEO Barry Diller led to Star Trek 's near-revival on television. As the main offering of what would have been a fourth television network -- PTS, the Paramount Television Service -- Paramount announced that it would produce Star Trek: Phase II, a one-hour, live-action series that would reunite all the original cast, except for Leonard Nimoy as Spock, to present the stories of Kirk's second five-year mission on the U.S.S. Enterprise. With Roddenberry as producer, along with new producers Harold Livingston and The X-Files' Robert Goodwin, a technical crew was assembled, writers hired, sets designed, and construction of a new Enterprise model begun. But within six weeks of Paramount's PTS announcement, it was clear that Barry Diller, who would later create the Fox Broadcasting Network, was, like Star Trek, ahead of his time. In 1977, the available advertising revenue would not support another network. PTS folded before it had begun. If Paramount did make Phase II, it would have nowhere to show it. Michael Eisner, Paramount's president and chief operating officer, destined to achieve fame as the Disney Company's acclaimed CEO, is credited with making the decision to salvage the project -- and Star Trek -- by changing Phase II 's two-hour pilot episode, "In Thy Image," from a television production to a film. Two years later, Star Trek: The Motion Picture opened to mixed reviews and phenomenal success. Though the unique burdens of its troubled production added to its overall budget and prevented it from becoming a highly profitable film, it was a solid hit with the public. Thus, like any business responsible to its shareholders, Paramount was determined to duplicate that success, but without revisiting any of the expensive lessons it had learned in the movie's production. The studio's first task was to insure that those people it perceived as being responsible for The Motion Picture 's shortcomings would not be involved in a second film. At this point, it is instructive to remember that the culture of Hollywood is such that when five superlative directors or writers or actors are called out of a field of hundreds or thousands by the American Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, and given the honor of being nominated for an Oscar, the media and the public invariably label the four distinguished, remarkable, and talented people who subsequently are not awarded the Oscar, 'losers.' It's as if a medical school awarded a degree only to the one student with the highest marks, and expelled everyone else. With that example of Hollywood "think" in mind, it is easier to understand how Paramount executives could come to consider Gene Roddenberry's involvement in the production of new Star Trek movies as something less than an asset. The first title cards for Star Trek: The Motion Picture had read: Paramount Pictures Presents...A Gene Roddenberry Production. A later card read: Produced by Gene Roddenberry. The movie had been expensive, late, and troubled during production. Thus, when Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was released in 1982, Roddenberry's title card reflected the new role he had been forced to accept -- Executive Consultant. He had lost control of his own creation. To be fair, movies are different from television. Successful writer-producers are rare in either field, but it is even more unheard of for one to cross from television to movies and do equally well in both arenas. Roddenberry was not abandoned by Paramount, though technically and legally the studio had that right. Instead, he was placed in a position in which he could be privy to every detail of the ongoing production of new Star Trek films, and be free to offer his comments, criticism, and praise for every aspect of their production. The only catch was that Paramount was under no binding obligation to act on any of Roddenberry's comments. Some people have speculated that Roddenberry was placed in this position by a studio that didn't want to alienate Star Trek 's fan base. But even in the early eighties, the number of people who were devoted Star Trek fans -- that is, those who regularly attended conventions and purchased the memorabilia -- was a small, almost statistically insignificant percentage of the total number of people who purchased a Star Trek movie ticket. If every devoted fan had steadfastly boycotted a new Star Trek film, there might have been some publicity about that decision -- publicity which Paramount might wish to avoid -- but box-office results would have barely reflected the fans' absence. The real reason for Paramount's concern about keeping Roddenberry tied to each Star Trek film was that every executive involved with the productions shared the maddening knowledge that no one had the slightest idea why Star Trek was a success...except Gene Roddenberry. Without his input, there was always the chance that the next movie wouldn't capture whatever it was that made Star Trek so enticing. Thus, with each new movie Roddenberry dispensed his opinions about the script. Sometimes he liked what was proposed, sometimes he was critical. Sometimes his suggestions and notes were incorporated into the final draft, sometimes they were not. Although Paramount clearly felt that Roddenberry's opinions, insights, and experience were useful for Star Trek, Roddenberry's ongoing role in his creation had been severely diminished. Then came 1986, Star Trek 's twentieth-anniversary year. After two decades, it was obvious to everyone that Star Trek was more than just an entertainment property with market appeal. It was a phenomenon. As always, Paramount sought to expand Star Trek 's success into new areas, and television once again became an area of investigation, not only because the syndicated market had grown since The Original Series' cancellation, but because the stations having such success with those twenty-year-old episodes were constantly asking Paramount to produce more. Though Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was not scheduled to be released until Thanksgiving, by early 1986 Paramount executives knew they had another Star Trek hit on their hands and began serious discussions about how to bring the franchise back to television. The major challenge the studio faced was that some of the principal cast members of The Original Series had gone on to other, lucrative careers. After receiving substantial sums to appear in a single movie once every two years, it would be unlikely that they could be lured back to the grueling world of weekly television production for a fraction of their movie paychecks. Thus, instead of remaking or continuing The Original Series, the idea of making a sequel with a new crew emerged as the most promising way to proceed. The question then became, To which broadcaster would Paramount sell the new series? Each network, and there were four now, was interested -- why wouldn't they be? But it was with Fox that Paramount actually began preliminary negotiations in the summer of '86. Paramount knew how valuable Star Trek was, if only as a movie series, and the studio executives wanted to protect any new version of the show as much as possible. Thus they had set as their initial conditions that any broadcaster wanting the new show must commit to a full season's order of twenty-six episodes, with a guarantee that either the episodes would never be preempted or that the broadcaster would run a major promotional campaign to support the series. In return, the broadcaster would receive half-interest in the series, which was projected to have the same success in syndication that The Original Series had. But Fox executives had to be just as responsible to their shareholders as the Paramount executives were to theirs. What if the revival, without Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, wasn't successful? Without the ability to cancel the new series, Fox was facing a full year of advertising losses, to say nothing of the per-episode license fee it would pay Paramount to produce the show. On August 6, USA Today reported that Fox executives could not bring themselves to commit to Paramount's requested guarantees. As Mel Harris, president of Paramount Television Group, later said in an interview in the New York Times, on November 2, 1986, "We realized that nobody else was going to care as much about Star Trek as we did." So Paramount made a cautious, though reasonable business decision. The studio would produce the new series by itself, then syndicate the new episodes to the same stations currently running The Original Series episodes. The risk they faced was that there was no broadcaster to cover part of the production cost with a license fee. But the potential payoff was that if the series was successful, Paramount would have no partner with which it would have to share any potential profits. The heart of Paramount's gamble was what's termed "deficit financing." Simply put, it generally costs more to produce an hour-long episode of a television series than a network will pay to run it. Thus, the production company, Paramount, for example, covers the shortfall out of its own funds, hoping to recoup that money -- and much more -- when the series is eventually sold for syndication. And Paramount had a good idea what an episode of a Star Trek series was worth in syndication. The Original Series' episodes, which in the mid-sixties had cost, on average, from almost $200,000 each to make in the first season, to just under $180,000 in the third, had earned back more than $1 million each in syndication fees, despite being two decades old. New episodes, which hadn't been rerun uncountable times, would be considerably more valuable, even with a projected 1986 budget of, on average, $1.2 million per episode. But though Paramount was willing to make up the deficit between that $1.2 million per episode and the $400,000 to $500,000 a network might pay as a licensing fee, a half-season order of thirteen episodes, which is what Fox wanted to commit to, wasn't large enough. To be successful in later syndication, a series generally needs sixty-five episodes available, which allows stations to "strip" a series -- that is, show a different episode each weekday for thirteen weeks. A sixty-five-episode commitment -- which at $1.2 million per episode came to $78 million -- was something not even Paramount was willing to make. So, with the studio's decision to make the series on its own, a two-part strategy was mapped out. First of all, to make the new and unproven series as attractive as possible to individual stations, Paramount would not charge any up-front cash payments to show the episodes. Instead, Paramount would offer the series on an "all-barter" basis. That is, in exchange for receiving the right to run the series for free, stations would allow Paramount to control seven minutes of commercial time in each episode. Paramount would make its money by selling those commercial slots to national advertisers. Each station would make its money by selling the remaining five minutes to local advertisers. The only party that could lose in such a situation was Paramount, which, at $1.2 million per episode, was committing more than $30 million of shareholder money with the realistic expectation of earning back just over half that amount from advertising sales. Even factoring in the expected 6.5-million-dollar earnings from foreign and home-video rights, the total deficit in the first season of the new series was projected to be $7 million. Studio executives have been known to lose their jobs over much smaller losses. As Rick Berman later said, at the time, in financial terms, the series represented "a considerable risk" to the studio. However, Paramount, with its extensive Star Trek experience, had a unique safety net to protect itself from that potential financial loss. If after thirteen episodes had been made it was clear that the series was not viable, the studio was prepared to cut its losses and stop production. Then, even though thirteen episodes were not nearly enough to guarantee success in the syndication market, they would be packaged with the seventy-nine Original Series episodes that were always in constant demand. In other words, if a station wanted to syndicate the original Star Trek, it would have to purchase the rights to the new Star Trek as well -- they wouldn't be able to buy one without the other. The bottom line was that, in terms of responsible financial planning, the failure of a new Star Trek series might be embarrassing, but at least it wouldn't be disastrous. With the studio's projected investment protected, the purely business decision was made to proceed. By August, 1986, a new Star Trek series was, unofficially at least, a "go." Paramount executives were enthusiastic enough about the return of Star Trek to television that they originally planned to announce the new series to the two thousand guests who would attend the twentieth-anniversary party on September 8, 1986. Only at the last minute did someone realize that such an announcement might prove embarrassing to the Original Series cast members who would be present, and who would soon be expected to begin traveling the country to promote Star Trek IV. One last detail remained: the prospect of Gene Roddenberry's involvement. Paramount executives had already mentioned to Roddenberry the possibility of a new series, but up to this point Roddenberry had not responded favorably, resisting any proposal that he felt might dilute the appeal of the original Star Trek. However, on Friday, September 12, 1986, just four days after the party, the president of Paramount Television, John Pike, sent Roddenberry a copy of the studio's initial approach to a new Star Trek series, which would place the Starship Enterprise in the hands of a crew of Starfleet cadets. Roddenberry replied with five pages of notes, mostly negative. But intentionally or not, Paramount had laid down the challenge to Roddenberry by showing him that though they would prefer to have him involved with the new series, they were ready to proceed without him. The executives were not unrealistic enough to claim that a new series was a certain success -- the extent of their financial contingency plans proved the seriousness of their concerns. Indeed, they let Roddenberry know, there was a good chance that the magic of Star Trek could never be repeated, even with his involvement. Ironically, it was that reservation on Paramount's part, that perhaps Star Trek 's success could never be duplicated, that reportedly compelled Roddenberry to finally make his decision. Roddenberry's initial reluctance to become involved with the new series earlier that year was understandable. Creative concerns aside, he knew firsthand the strenuous demands of television production, and he was now sixty-four, an age when most people contemplated a peaceful retirement. But the challenge he had been offered was, in the end, impossible to refuse -- an appropriate state of affairs considering it came from the studio that had made the Godfather films. Roddenberry had created the original Star Trek. He had shepherded his creation from television into what would become a successful series of films. Then he had been relegated to a mere consultant's role. But now he was being offered a way back, a way to regain control of the universe he had brought forth, and a way to improve on his own original concept and prove that his creation of Star Trek was not a once-in-a-lifetime fluke. Leonard Nimoy later said that any attempt to recapture the success of the original Star Trek would be like trying to capture lightning in a bottle. But twenty years earlier, Gene Roddenberry had already proved himself to be one of those rare creative lightning rods. Now, drawing on what David Gerrold referred to as his greatest skill, Roddenberry readied himself to face the first task of his new endeavor: to once again call that lightning to him by assembling his team. Copyright © 1997, 1998 by Paramount Pictures

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