The guys behind the fan audio production Star Trek The Continuing Mission have put up a very interesting audio interview with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry from July 1976. Roddenberry discusses the creation of TOS, why changes were made between the pilots, the birth of the Klingons and Romulans plus much more. But it is the discussion of early plans for Star Trek The Motion Picture that stand out as most relevant to today’s Trek.
There have already been quite a few parallels between Star Trek The Motion Picture (which still holds the Trek record for most tickets sold) and the new Star Trek film. Not since the 70s has Paramount planned such an epic film in terms of the story, scale of production and marketing and merchandising. And from this new audio recording, there seem to be some more déjà vu moments with regards to the two films.
Roddenberry on plans for Star Trek The Motion Picture
We also had talked about maybe doing the story about how all the Enterprise crew came together years ago. But we are all seven years older and that might become such a huge make up problem that it makes it impossible. So we will probably go the direction of the five year mission is ended or has ended and for some reason there is some emergency and the entire old crew has to be put together again in a rebuilt and more powerful Enterprise.
Regarding why give the Enterprise a ‘face lift’ Roddenberry said:
It would have to anyway for this reason. The television version was of course done on a television budget. We did as good a job as we could, but we were having to deal a lot with 2x4s and ply board and that sort of thing and we just didn’t the money for fantastic excursions and all of that. Of course doing a motion picture and particularly doing it on a wide screen where you see everything in so much detail…even if we had the old bridge we would have to redo it to make it more sophisticated and better.
Roddenberry also sounded a lot like JJ Abrams or Damon Lindelof when he said this about plans for TMP casting:
As far as cameo and guest roles we do hope to have six named stars so we will be advertising to theater owners and to the public at large, this is not just an ‘inside Star Trek thing.’ We are going to give you a piece of entertainment that is worth your $3 whether you are a Star Trek fan or not.
In the end they never did get those ‘six named stars,’ but one wonders what TMP might have been had they brought on some big names from the 70s. Of course since this was 1976, Roddenberry is really most likely talking about the “Star Trek: Planet of the Titans,” which was the original planned first Star Trek picture, but that too was planned to take place after the five year mission.
Not the first mention of Roddnberry’s prequel
Here is an interesting excerpt from the the 1997 book “The Art of Star Trek” by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens:
As early as The Original Series’ third season, Gene Roddenberry had spoken of making a Star Trek motion picture. At the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention held over Labor Day weekend in Oakland, California he drew enthusiastic applause when he told a rapt audience his plans for filming a prequel to the series telling the story of how Kirk and his crew had met at Starfleet Academy.
The human adventure is just beginning…again
More from Continuing Mission team
The interview was done by Tim Renshaw, who plays Captain Paul Edwards on Continuing Mission. The interview is broken into three parts and the above quotes were taken from the third, but there is good stuff in all three parts. Roddenberry discusses why they made changes after “The Cage,” the naming of Kirk, the design of the Enterprise and much more. Go to TCM Production to listen or download.