Star Trek – Concept & Development

“Star Trek is…” – The original pitch.

Gene Roddenberry’s original pitch for Star Trek is available a number of places online and was to tell of the voyages of the USS Yorktown.

Characters

Many characters in the pitch were reworked or renamed into “The Cage” (the original pilot) and then again into Star Trek itself:

  • Capt Robert M April -> Capt Christopher Pike -> Capt James Kirk
  • Number One -> Number One -> Mr Spock.
  • José Ortegas -> José Tyler.
  • Dr Philip “Bones” Boyce -> Dr Philip “Bones” Boyce -> Dr Leonard “Bones” McCoy.
  • Mr Spock -> Mr Spock -> Mr Spock.
  • Yeoman Colt -> Yeoman Colt -> Yeoman Rand.

Episode Concepts

Some of the episode concepts were used, some only have thematic successors.

Used in Star Trek:

  • “The Next Cage” -> “The Cage” (unaired pilot)
  • “The Day Charlie Became a God” -> “Where No Man Has Gone Before”/”Charlie X”
  • “President Capone” -> “A Piece of the Action”
  • “The Women” -> “Mudd’s Women”
  • “The Man Trap” -> “The Man Trap”
  • “100AD” -> “The Omega Glory”
  • “A Question of Cannibalism” -> Star Trek: The Cattlemen (unmade film).
Other usages:
  • “The Pet Shop” -> Planet Earth (Second Genesis II pilot)

Legacy

Obviously, the progression shown above, as well as:
  • Admiral April appeared in a Star Trek (The Animated Series) episode as the first Captain of the Enterprise, the one thing from the animated series Roddenberry said was canon.  April is also listed in a number of non-canon sources as the original captain of the Enterprise.
  • The USS Yorktown appears or is mentioned a few times in the original series and movies.  Roddenberry said that the Enterprise-A is the USS Yorktown refitted and renamed.
~ DUG.

STAR TREK II (Star Trek: The God Thing)

Star-Trek-The-God-Thing

An Unmade First Star Trek Film by Gene Roddenberry

BACKGROUND

Star Trek (now often called Star Trek: The Original Series), was a science fiction series that went for 3 seasons from 1966 – 1969.  Although it was cancelled, it gathered a cult following, which is why you already knew that bit.  It also spawned a Saturday morning cartoon (also called Star Trek, but now often called Star Trek: The Animated Series) for two seasons from 1973 to 1974.  This has been largely ignored by the makers of Star Trek and largely forgotten by Trekies.  The continued interest in Star Trek lead to Paramount to become interested in making a feature film.

DEVELOPMENT

In May 1975, with a $3 – 5 million budget allocated by Paramount, Gene Roddenberry started on a script for a Star Trek film proposed for fall of that year.  By June 30 Roddenberry had submitted a first draft called Star Trek II (because, you know, Star Trek was Star Trek I.  And, I guess, so was Star Trek (The Animated Series).

STORY

“The first five year is mission is over and… has been for some time.  Most of the regular crew have been promoted and, for the most part, are pretty unhappy with shuffling papers and other administrative jobs.  Scotty has become an alcoholic, and McCoy has given up treating human patients to become a veterinarian, loudly proclaiming animals as the only sensible patients he has ever had.”[1]  Kirk had been made Admiral and Spock was back on Vulcan.

A starship threatens Earth: “What Gene had written was that this ‘thing’ was sent forth to lay down the law; to communicate the law of the universe, and that as time goes on the law needs to be reinterpreted.”[2]  It is revealed that it (at least believed it) previously came in the form of Jesus, but the machine has malfunctioned.

REJECTION

Paramount President Barry Diller rejected Roddenberry’s draft, and Roddenberry thought “it was felt by some higher ups that my script might offend some religious people.”[3]

LEGACY

The film was rescheduled to spring 1976 while they looked for a new script.  Roddenberry moved onto another idea which he developed with Jon Povill.

The cost of this and later movie and series attempts was later offset against the success of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the basic set up was also used.

Novelisation

In 1976 Roddenberry was working on a novelisation of Star Trek II and completed sixty eight pages.  He then asked Walter Koenig to collaborate on the project.  Koenig spent two months writing another eighty three pages by December.  It was due to be published by late Bantam in late 1977, “tentively titled ‘The God Thing.’”[4]  By 1978 the novelisation was still only considered half complete and but Bantam allowed it to be put on hold to allow Roddenberry to concentrate on Star Trek: Phase II.

Susan Sackett and Fred Bronson worked on it in 1991, however when Roddenberry died Sackett was cut off from Star Trek.

In 1992 Michael Jan Friedman did “Probably about two solid weeks, spread out over a few months [and] … produced an outline and a sample chapter, then went into revisions on the outline.”[5]  Majel Barrett-Roddenberry has said that Friedman was taken off the project as he was adding new characters and events (needed to extend the manuscript to full length) which were probably in a different direction to that which Roddenberry would have taken.  The project was passed onto David Alexander, but nothing has come of it.

NOTES:

[1] Gene Roddenberry, quoted in Star Log #3 (Jan 1977) via Roby.

[2] Richard Colla, quoted in Trek: The Lost Years via Roby.

[3] Gene Roddenberry, quoted in The Man Who Created Star Trek: Gene Roddenberry via Roby.

[4] Susan Sackett, quoted in Star Log #7 (Aug 1977) via Roby.

[5] Michael Jan Friedman quoted in Roby.

SOURCES:

Hughes, David.  The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made.  London: Titan Books, 2008.  Print.

Reeves-Stevens, Judith & Garfield.  Star Trek: Phase II – The Lost Series.  New York: Pocket Books, 1997.  Print.

Roby, Steve.  “The God Thing: Gene Roddenberry’s Lost Star Trek Novel.”  The Complete Star Trek Library.  NP, 27 Jan 2010.  Web.  11/11/2013.

~ DUG.

Originally Posted 14 Nov 2013

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Justice League: Mortal

DC Comics

The unmade first in a Justice League of America film trilogy.

Originally planned to have been made in Australia.

With Marvel’s Iron Man and a sequel to DC’s Batman Begins in production, DC commissioned a Justice League film.

DEVELOPMENT

In Febuary 2007, Kieran and Michele Mulroney were hired by Warner Bros to write a Justice League film which was greeted positively when handed in in June.   Director George Miller was hired in September, and it was hoped it would be ready to shoot before the upcoming writer’s strike.  Filming was planned to start in February 2008 to make use of Australian Tax Incentives.

STORY

The script has been leaked online.

CAST

Although no official cast was announced many media outlets confirmed that a cast (it was suggested that Miller wanted a young cast to grow into the role.

  • Armie Hammer as Batman/Bruce Wayne
  • Megan Gale as Wonder Woman/Princess Diana of Themyscira
  • D.J. Cotrona as Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent
  • Adam Brody as The Flash/Wally West
  • Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’onzz
  • Teresa Palmer as Talia Al Ghul
  • Zoe Kazan as Iris Allen
  • Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman/Arthur Curry
  • Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord
  • Common as John Stewart/Green Lantern

REJECTION

Changes were made by the Australian government to make the tax incentives only apply to films with Australian story content, causing Warner Bros to consider moving production to Canada, but Miller still wanted to produce at Fox Studios Australia.  Warner Bros said that the script needed work to be darker, but the writer’s strike stopped any work being done.  There was fan backlash for a competing casting of Batman, although Nolan didn’t like the idea of his film universe being part of a Justice League universe.

LEGACY

The success of Iron Man setting up an Avengers universe and success of The Dark Knight led DC to consider making a series of solo films for the Justice League characters, leading to 2011’s Green Lantern for Hal Jordan and 2013’s Man of Steel for Superman.

~ DUG.

Australia Day: Australia Day26th January

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In the big bad world of film and TV production a lot of things don’t get made.  Scripts are unused, series cancelled or not picked up and ideas wasted, films not produced.  With this blog I intend to explore these roads not taken, these films and shows that never were.

What do I mean by SF or Speculative Fiction.  The non-mimetic branches of fiction, mostly identified with Science Fiction and Fantasy but all the sub-genres, side-genres and crossover genres that fit my view of those things; so shows with supernatural elements, or super heroes or horror, or… well, we’ll see what happens.

In the first sentence I said there were “a lot of things that don’t get made” that’s true of all film and television, but even limiting it to Speculative Fiction leave a lot of material to cover.  So to cut back further, I’m making a few rules, rules that I’m bound to break and that can’t cover all possibilities.

  • Spec Scripts – scripts completed and sent to producers in hopes of becoming something.  A lot of these exist in the world, far too many to cover even a small percentage of them.  I won’t be covering spec scripts unless something comes of them or they become something else (a rejected Star Trek episode that becomes a series of novels, or something).
  • The Development Process – Changes happen during any production.  I’m going to avoid this sort of thing unless the changes are very major or are well documented for a major show.  This one will be a hard rule to follow.  Many of the books about unmade film and television get mired in details of the development of a film or series.  One thing I will try to do when covering this sort of thing is try to avoid some of the mythology that grows up around these things (“It was going to start Arnie as a gay astronaut” when Arnie left the production long before Arnie left the film, etc).
  • Unproduced episodes – Most series had many, many unproduced episodes, ideas are thrown around, directions change.  Exceptions will be made for scrapped ideas for significant episodes, episodes that would have changed the show, or episodes planed for after the show was cancelled.
  • Hyping unmade material – It’s all too easy to think an unmade project would be better than things that end up being made.  A lot relies on execution.  Ideas that seem great be ruined.  Bad ideas can make great films.  I’m exploring ideas that didn’t get made, good, bad or indifferent.  Who can really say how good something would have been?
  • All these rules will quickly and regularly be broken.

A

B

D

  • DIAMOND DEAD – Unmade George A Romero film about a zombie rock band. [DIAMOND DEAD]
  • Dr. Who – a series proposal by CE Webber for the BBC in 1963 which was later developed in Doctor Who.  Episodes include “Nothing at the End of the Lane” and “The Giants” [DOCTOR WHO – Concept & Development]
  • DUNE – An adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel, first attempted by Arthur P Jacobs.  [Arthur P Jacob’s DUNE]

F

  • FREDDY VS JASON VS ASH – Unmade sequel to FREDDY VS JASON, bringing the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness franchise into the combined A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th Franchises.  [Freddy vs JASON vs ASH]

G

  • GENESIS II – Failed Gene Roddenberry pilot about Dylan Hunt and PAX on a post apocalyptic Earth.  [Gene Roddenberry’s GENESIS II (Failed 1973 pilot)]
  • “The Giants” (Dr. Who episode) – proposed serial be CE Webber following the initial episode “Nothing at the End of the Lane”, with the characters exploring the time travel machine, not aware it can time travel and accidentally shrinking themselves. [DOCTOR WHO – Concept & Development]
  • “The Giants” (Doctor Who episode) – a 4 part reworking of the Dr. Who proposal for the first season of Doctor Who, but was scrapped when it was decided that the props would be too expensive.  Later reworked again as “Planet of the Giants”, eventually aired in season 2. [DOCTOR WHO – Concept & Development]
  • GREEN HORNET (Kevin Smith script) – a proposed film of the radio serial character from around 2004, later released as a comic book.  [Kevin Smith’s GREEN HORNET]

H

I

J

  • JUSTICE LEAGUE: MORTAL – A film based on DC Comics’s Justice League commissioned in 2007.  [JUSTICE LEAGUE: Mortal]

K

  • K-9 & Company – A Doctor Who spin-off which didn’t make it past a pilot. [K-9 & Company]

N

P

R

  • “Robot’s Return” (Genesis II episode) – A proposed episode for Genesis II, about a probe to Jupiter which returns and thinks NASA’s Dylan Hunt is its god.  Later used for the Star Trek: Phase II pilot which became Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  [Gene Roddenberry’s GENESIS II (Failed 1973 Pilot)]

S

    1. a treatment/draft script submitted by Gene Roddenberry to Paramount in 1975.  [STAR TREK II (aka Star Trek: The God Thing)]
    2. a planned revival of the original Star Trek series that never got made.  [STAR TREK II (aka Star Trek: Phase II)]

T

  • The Troubleshooters – a series proposed by CE Webber for the BBC in 1963, about a small group of troubleshooters brought in to solve SF style problems.  Elements and thinking went into his Dr. Who proposal.  [DOCTOR WHO – Concept & Development]

U

X

  • X-MEN ORIGINS: MAGNETO – a proposed prequel to The X-Men franchise, superseded by X-MEN: FIRST CLASS.  [X-MEN ORIGINS: Magneto]

~ DUG.