Fontana On Writing For 'Star Trek'

By T'Bonz
June 16, 2008 - 8:14 PM

The bad luck of a fellow secretary led to writing opportunities for D.C. Fontana.

As reported by, when Gene Roddenberry's secretary was out for several months with an infection acquired after an appendectomy, Fontana filled her place and as a result, got to know Roddenberry better. When Roddenberry found out that Fontana wanted to become a professional writer full time, he was encouraging and gave her the opportunity to write for Star Trek.

"Gene Roddenberry said to me, 'Well, you know the show as well as anybody since you've been on it from the beginning. What story do you want to write?'," explained Fontana. She wrote original stories and was also involved in rewrites when stories needed to be fixed. "One of our writers was having a problem with what became 'This Side of Paradise.' It wasn't called that originally. Gene said to me, 'If you do this rewrite to my satisfaction and NBC's, I will support you as my story editor.' Because we had already had John Black, who had left the show, and Steve Carabatsos, who was nearing the end of his contract with the show. So he said, 'If you do this well, I will back you as story editor,' and I guess I did, because I wound up as story editor!"

Sometimes, freelance writers didn't quite get it right, feeling that their characters needed to be the star. "You'd have to say, 'This isn't working because he's not the star of our show," said Fontana. "[Captain Kirk] has to come up against him and look good. [Kirk] has to have weight and he has to have character and he has to have drive. You can't just have him sit there like a dummy."

Fontana left as story editor at the end of the second season, although she contributed stories for the third year, including the well-received The Enterprise Incident. She wanted to break out and write for other shows, plus she was unhappy with the direction that the third season had taken. "There was sort of like the creature of the week, monster of the week [mentality], which they'd been doing over on 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea'," said Fontana. "And I never thought that was a terribly successful thing for Star Trek to do."

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