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July 16 2024


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Filmation Founder Reflects On Animated Trek

By Michelle
June 12, 2007 - 8:50 PM

Filmation founder Lou Scheimer, who produced Star Trek: The Animated Series as well as Superman and many other classic animated television shows, reflected on his career, from the dubious accounting practices that he thinks deprived him of Ghostbusters revenue to the Emmy Award he won for Star Trek.

"[Gene Roddenberry]" and I became very close," Scheimer told The Trades. "Of all the crazy stories you've heard, he was not a difficult man to work with. All he wanted to do was do his series, and he wanted to keep it honest, and I did too, because I loved that show. We tried as hard as we could to keep it as close to what Star Trek would have been."

Quashing rumours that the series was to have featured teenage counterparts to the Enterprise crew, Scheimer continued, "We used basically the same writers. The only place Gene really got involved - after we did the models and showed him how the stuff was going to work - was that he wanted to be involved with the stories. And it was a gift as far as I was concerned, because nobody knew it any better."

Though some fans have complained that Star Trek didn't fully utilize the animated medium, which would have allowed to ship and crew to do things not possible on a live TV budget, Scheimer felt that the writers did take advantage of the format. "We could take them anyplace, do anything we wanted to do, as long as it was true to the original...we did the same kind of stories, with the same kind of concepts, that were done in the nighttime show."

It was to be Scheimer's only Emmy, though he believes Fat Albert deserved one too. "I had a writer working for us named Bill Danch who wrote on the original Fat Albert, and had been a comedy writer in the old radio days," he recalled. "He was 65-70 years old then. But he had worked with everyone: Bob Hope, Fred Allen..." But the networks only bought limited numbers of episodes, "and get one year and the ability to pick up a second year. Of all the time we were on the air with Fat Albert on the networks, we only did 60 episodes. We did another 50...when we did distribution directly when the show came off the networks, then we did it on a direct basis, so that we had over 100 episodes of that. But a lot of shows that we did was the stuff that came off the networks"

Asked whether CGI animation has killed off the traditional animation format, Scheimer said, "I think a lot of things may have. There are a lot more people doing children's shows on the networks. And there are network after network now...all the work is really done overseas. All that they do here now, again mostly, are the stories, the character designs, the storyboards, and the post production. But anybody talking about doing anything for animation... even take a look at any of the stuff that's done at nighttime in animation. They don't do the animation in this country."

The full interview is here.

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