Harlan Ellison Upset At Latest Movie RumorsBy Christian
November 12, 2007 - 10:53 PM
Harlan Ellison today reacted with outrage to rumors suggesting the new Star Trek film will make use of elements created by Ellison in his classic TOS episode "The City On The Edge Of Forever."
"Would someone go to that site," Ellison wrote on his official message board, referring to the IESB, which printed the original rumors, "and suggest to those people there, that 'City' and all its elements except specific Star Trek characters, belong to Harlan Ellison -- author of that much-lauded episode -- by terms of the Separation of Rights clause of the Writers Guild's Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA), and if Mr. Abrams -- with whom I'm currently on strike -- or anyone else, at Paramount or elsewhere, thinks they're going to use my creations -- whether the City, the Guardians, Sister Edith Keeler, or any other elements created by Harlan Ellison... they had damned well better lose the unilateral arrogance, get in touch with me, or my agent, Marty Shapiro, and be prepared to pay for the privilege of mining the lode I own."
Today's rumors suggested the new Trek film will feature the Guardian of Forever, a time portal that was used by Kirk, Spock and McCoy to travel back to the 1930s in "The City On The Edge Of Forever." Ellison wrote the original version of that script, but was later rewritten by Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, in an effort to meet the show's budget and to remove elements that Roddenberry felt didn't fit in with the spirit of Star Trek. Despite the critical acclaim the episode received, Ellison spent the next several decades complaining about the rewrites, culminating with the release of a book that featured his original screenplay and an essay from Ellison on the "fatally inept treatment" he felt his work had received.
If the new Trek film does indeed end up featuring the Guardian of Forever, Ellison may well be entitled to receive financial compensation from Paramount. In the past, Trek producers managed to avoid similar situations by making minor changes to their stories. For instance, Star Trek: Voyager's Tom Paris was initially going to be Nick Locarno, seen in The Next Generation's "The First Duty." Although the two characters were quite similar and they were played by the same actor, Robert Duncan McNeill, changing the name and background story meant Paramount did not have to pay royalties to the screenwriter who introduced Locarno in "The First Duty." For similar reasons, the Vulcan first officer on Enterprise ended up not being T'Pau, first seen in the Original Series, but instead the all-new character T'Pol.
Ellison today sounded ready for a fight, if the rumors turn out to be true. The writer described the news as "yet another gimmegimme grab by Paramount and the Star trek franchise that makes billions, but withholds recognition or recompense to the artists who labored in that vein."
For the original post from Ellison, please follow this link.