John DF Black’s STAR TREK: THE END OF THE UNIVERSE

Unproduced fantasy, science fiction and horror films, TV shows and episodes…

John DF Black

While Jon Povill and Gene Roddenberry worked on Povill’s Star Trek movie script in 1975, Roddenberry and Paramount solicited scripts and pitches from some famous science fiction writers, including Harlan Ellison and John DF Black.

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Harlan Ellison’s STAR TREK movie pitch

Unproduced fantasy, science fiction and horror films, TV shows and episodes…

Harlan

While Jon Povill and Gene Roddenberry work on Povill’s Star Trek movie script, Roddenberry and Paramount solicited scripts and pitches from some famous science fiction writers, including Harlan Ellison.

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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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