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More From Roddenberry: On Trek’s Future After Him & Recasting

Last week we ran some quotes from a recently released audio interview with Gene Roddenberry from the 70s where he discussed changes in Trek designs and that he had considered doing his own prequel to The Original Series. In the last week some friends of the site have found other quotes from Star Trek’s creator that showed that he was pretty flexible and open to a future of Trek without him.

Roddenberry on doing Star Trek without Leonard Nimoy
from 1977 letter to fans on the controversy over doing the ‘Phase II’ TV series (aka ‘Star Trek II’) without Leonard Nimoy (who did not want to return to series television), taken from “The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture” by Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenberry.

Do we still want Nimoy-Spock in Star Trek II? Yes, of course. Must we have the Nimoy-Spock combination back no matter what the schedule or terms or cost? Of course not.

Roddenberry on recasting
from 1981 letter to the fans regarding the death of Spock controversy in the upcoming Star Trek II, taken from “Star Trek:Creator – The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry”

Even if Nimoy never plays Spock again, I think it would be wonderful years from now to see Star Trek come back with an equally talented new cast playing Spock and Kirk and Bones and Scotty and all the rest as they say tomorrow’s things to tomorrow’s generations…

Roddenberry on if he would have done Star Trek differently
from 1988 Interview, “The Star Trek Interview Book” by Allan Asherman.

…there are literally hundreds of things I would have done differently with the luxury of hindsight, but I’m quite pleased, given the time, the place, the problems we faced, our own lack of knowledge at that time, because we’ve grown since then, that we did as well as you can reasonably expect. We made lots of mistakes, but obviously we did enough things right that it worked despite the mistakes.

Roddenberry on Trek’s future after him
from 1989 interview, Star Trek Communicator Magazine

I feel that we’ve got such good people in Hollywood, and will in future as well, that I would be happy to have a Star Trek come on in 15 or 20 years where people say, "Now that is good!  That makes Roddenberry look like nothing!" And that would please me!

recount of 1990 appearance, taken from “Making of Deep Space Nine” by Judith and Gar Reeves-Stevens

…at a STAR TREK convention in Los Angeles, about a year before his death, Gene Roddenberry spoke to the gathered fans about the future of STAR TREK. He had seen his creation span generations of viewers, he had heard the fans of The Original Series and the Next Generation debate the pros and cons of both, and though there had been no formal talks of a third series at this time, he spoke of how he perceived STAR TREK’s future, after he was gone.

With a charm and sincerity that clearly came from a person who was used to studying human behavior from the perspective of one who looked into the future, Roddenberry said he expected — indeed, he hope — that in the years to come, new generations of fans would look at the new forms of STAR TREK being produced and say, ‘This is the real STAR TREK. Those other people back there at the beginning, they didn’t do it half as well.’

Thanks to Jon, John, Judy and Gar

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Xplodin' Nacelle
March 6, 2008 11:14 am

Wow, these are really a treasure. Thanks for unearthing them guys.

Pragmaticus
March 6, 2008 11:15 am

A true visionary.

soki la schtroumphette
March 6, 2008 11:16 am

“I think it would be wonderful years from now to see Star Trek come back with an equally talented new cast playing Spock and Kirk and Bones and Scotty ”
I hope you’re right, Gene! :-)

March 6, 2008 11:17 am

This guy was the real deal. He was a ”piece of work” willing to give a ”piece of his heart.” Star Trek is not about hardware or canon, it’s about storytelling and character. If the Enterprise is a rubber raft in the next movie (a 150-million dollar rubber raft) — if the story is good and the characters tell us a tale worth telling — I’m happy in advance.

CmdrR
March 6, 2008 11:22 am

No fair! Gene gets to watch for free. ;-)

Thanks, Anthony. I only wish this would silence the canonistas, but of course you could overload the matter-anti-matter converters thru the phaser ODN’s and still not make the detractors glow and disappear.

Neal
March 6, 2008 11:40 am

Phase II is one of the most intriguing “might-have-beens” in tv history. Kirk on the air every week, mid 70s. What a thought. I wonder if the costumes would have become progressively disco-ized. Starfleet meets Elvis jumpsuit. Command insignia the size of a frying pan.

On the TMP remastered DVD, there are some Phase II screen tests, so short but so filled with possibility. Same outfits as from TOS.

British Naval Dude
March 6, 2008 11:41 am

Well crack my knuckles and jump for joy
J.J. got a clean bill o’ health from Roddenberry-oy!

arrrr….

Vulcan Soul
March 6, 2008 11:43 am

#5 – To overload the M/AM converters through the phaser optical DATA network makes no sense, CmdR ;)

And yeah, I’m scared too.

Captain Otter
March 6, 2008 11:50 am

Wonderful and timely quotes. Thank you.

Mary Jane
March 6, 2008 11:52 am

#5 quote: “I only wish this would silence the canonistas”.

Roddenberry IS canon. He’s the fundament. If he said it’s okay, it’s okay. Every canon junkie who doesn’t adhere to this simple rule, is imho insincere.

Batts
March 6, 2008 11:54 am

If we think JJ Abrams does not have the ‘green light’ to be as flexible with all of this new material in mind. Think again! GR was definitely opened to new things. The Nimoy/Spock bit was a bit shocking. He is saying his franchise will go on regardless of whether or not Spock is played by someone else. Whoa!!

Perhaps that is the attitude of most bosses today. The company will continue without you. Now will the recasting of Spock be as successful and well received??? Maybe the producers of James Bond asked the same question??

Jorg Sacul
March 6, 2008 11:55 am

I suppose it is pretty arrogant for fans to say that nobody will ever play the roles of our valiant, er, Enterprise crew as well as the originals. But then, I remember when everyone said that DVD was the ultimate video presentation format.

Did the audience of the Bard get up in arms when other actors played Hamlet? And yes, I’m comparing Trek to Shakespeare, at least in the sense that “the play’s the thing”.

March 6, 2008 11:56 am

#5 Excellent use of technobabble!!! LOL.. had me rolling for a while.

As someone pointed out, Gene was a kind, warm person who was not afraid of the future. He laid the foundation (and a very strong, solid one to boot) and it’s up to the future generations to build upon his foundation. I think JJ Abrams is doing a great job and have faith that I will be watching the new movie multiple times when it comes out (me alone, me with the wife, me with friends, etc..).

Batts
March 6, 2008 11:57 am

Just to get a little clearer with what I said. GR’s thoughts on flexibility and growth is what I meant by giving JJ more creative latitude or room to play with as far as ship design, uniforms are concerned. My opinion.

Cobra Commander
March 6, 2008 12:01 pm

I’m a huge fan of GR the creator. I’m not a fan of GR the “ego.” But, perhaps like the ‘The Enemy Within,’ you can’t have one without the other.
I like that he said, “We made lots of mistakes, but obviously we did enough things right that it worked despite the mistakes.” This statement sums up my view of canon pretty well. I’m willing to overlook the early mistakes. Mistakes made later, however, I find NO excuse for. So much has been (firmly) established over the decades that following established facts should be expected. Following canon doesn’t have to be fanboy or far-fetched. Just respect what’s been established and work within those parameters. If JJ, the writers, and the actors can do that, I’m sure GR will be very proud!

Iowagirl
March 6, 2008 12:06 pm

– We made lots of mistakes, but obviously we did enough things right that it worked despite the mistakes. –

It definitely did work. Thank you, Gene, for the vision you carried into effect.

THX-1138
March 6, 2008 12:06 pm

I’m kinda glad that Phase II was not a reality. I fear that we might have seen a Buck Rogers-beedy beedy beedy, type show. But it could have been cool.

Lord, Buck Rogers was bad. What was that robots name? Tweeky, or something like that? The people who prduced and wrote that show must have been a little “tweeky” themselves.

CmdrR
March 6, 2008 12:10 pm

If Richard Burbidge doesn’t play Falstaff, I will boycott this production of ‘Henry IV.’

Oh yeah, he’s been dead for 500 years.

Some protests are just plain silly. If Roddenberry was cool with change and Nimoy is cool handing over the role of his professional career, then who are we to go nuts?

Redjac
March 6, 2008 12:12 pm

#5, #10 — Roddenberry didn’t produce anything that broke canon — nor did he say he wanted anything that broke canon. He only said he’d be ok with other actors and other producers going forward with Trek.

There are no canon issues here. However, what is not said in this article/quotes is that he DID take issue with things producers/writers/directors wanted to do that DID break canon or deviate from is view of what Trek should be.

Sybok is one example…the militarism of the TOS feature films beginning with TWOK…

I think most “canonistas” just want things to adhere to what Roddenberry established and established on-screen storylines/character development.

I don’t think Roddenberry would disagree with that position.

Redjac
March 6, 2008 12:16 pm

#17 — TWIKI was the robots name…and yes, that series was wretched.

orion pirate
March 6, 2008 12:17 pm

Gene was amazing. I was born in the wrong part of the century, I want to meet him so badly.

“…I think it would be wonderful years from now to see Star Trek come back with an equally talented new cast playing Spock and Kirk and Bones and Scotty and all the rest as they say tomorrow’s things to tomorrow’s generations…”

THAT is amazing. I wish he could be around now to see it happening. I wonder what he’d think of the new cast…

James Heaney - Wowbagger
March 6, 2008 12:26 pm

I think I have a new signature quote coming on.

Happy to know I have the same perspective on canon that the G.B.G. does.

March 6, 2008 12:26 pm

Batts and others

Keep in mind that he said this back when he and Nimoy weren’t the best of friends. They had a falling out between the second and third seasons and they didn’t reconcile until shortly before his death during TNG.

And of course Star Trek will go on. It already has. It was even alive in the cold hard winter years of Mod Trek. :) :)

CmdrR
March 6, 2008 12:29 pm

20. Redjac – March 6, 2008
#17 — TWIKI was the robots name…and yes, that series was wretched.

Erin Gray in spandex at least made some of it watchable.

THX-1138
March 6, 2008 12:30 pm

#20
They have the costume for TWIKI (thanks for that) at the Science Fiction Museum. The years have not been kind to it. I imagine it was stored in a garbage can out in the rain after series ended it’s run.

As for Phase II, the disco theme to Star Trek just keeps running through my mind.

jon1701
March 6, 2008 12:37 pm
CanuckLou
March 6, 2008 12:45 pm

The TOS characters – not the actors that originally portrayed them – are iconic in the same sense as Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Superman etc. ST XI will be proof of that.

The TOS characters are too good, too great, too entertaining, and too inspirational to have them chained to one era in time.

The world is about to re-discover these great characters!!

Shatner4TrekXI
March 6, 2008 12:49 pm

Being open to new things doesn’t mean the man wouldn’t have protected his vision had he lived. The garbage of the post-GR era probably could have been avoided.

trekofficial
March 6, 2008 12:50 pm

NOT CANNON!!! Im sorry but the tone of the interviews was 0.009% not how roddenberry would have answered these are bogus. I intend to let everyone aboard by ship (the U.s.s. Hilary) know this!

Dr. Image
March 6, 2008 12:51 pm

Gene Roddenberry = TRUE open mind.

Michael Hall
March 6, 2008 12:56 pm

“Erin Gray in spandex at least made some of it watchable.”

What was Pam Hensley, chopped liver? :-)

I have a book somewheres which goes into detail about the proposed Phase II production, including scripts and story treatments. With all due respect to the people involved (Roddenberry included), I think it likely the series would have been regarded as an expensive disappointment, and Trek as a franchise would have most likely died with it.

Closettrekker
March 6, 2008 12:56 pm
“… I think it would be wonderful years from now to see Star Trek come back with an equally talented new cast playing Spock and Kirk and Bones and Scotty and all the rest as they say tomorrow’s things to tomorrow’s generations…”—–GR Prophetic? Maybe. According to the article, this quote was from 1977. Now, 31 years later, this is indeed happening—at least the recasting of the iconic TOS characters. Will they (Orci, Kurtzman, Abrams, and Lindelof) say today’s things to today’s generation, or will the themes of STXI be timeless, much like TWOK? I hope for the latter. I do not believe that TUC holds up as well as TWOK, and that it is partly due to TUC’s attempt to “parallel” events going on near the time of the film’s release. Of course, there is much to be said for TWOK simply being a better film, but I don’t think that immediate post-Cold War themes resonate with audiences the way they did in the very early 90’s. Now granted, you could break down TUC’s theme to its simplest form—“our fear of change”, and I suppose that much is timeless. TUC just doesn’t hit home like it did then. “I feel that we’ve got such good people in Hollywood, and will in future as well, that I would be happy to have a Star Trek come on in 15 or 20 years where people say, ‘Now that is good! That makes Roddenberry look like nothing!’ And that would please me!”—GR I’m… Read more »
March 6, 2008 1:16 pm

#28:”Being open to new things doesn’t mean the man wouldn’t have protected his vision had he lived.”

Doesn’t mean his interpretation of “his vision” would have pleased you at all, either.

Most of what was good, storywise, on TNG occurred after and in spite of GR.

Iowagirl
March 6, 2008 1:19 pm

#27
Not meaning to discuss our different views on re-casting itself, as different views are perfectly alright. But I don’t think it’s correct to say STXI will be proof that TOS characters are iconic. This proof has already been supplied, as Kirk, Spock & Co. have become icons and archetypes long ago, and it was GR’s fundamental idea, the original writers’ conclusive characterization, and the original actors‘ congruent portrayal that made them reach their iconic heights. They are instantly recognizable even for people who don’t deal with scifi or ST, and they are not “chained” to one era in time. They’ve accompanied us for 4 decades now, and they’ve become an integral part of pop culture.

Therefore, I think suggesting that the characters need STXI to come into their own (at least this is how I understand your statement), is rather far-fetched and not applicable.

British Naval Dude
March 6, 2008 1:20 pm

Awwk- I’m getting a message from TWIKI:
“bee-dee bee-dee bee-dee
I was suppposed to be in Phase II but, even for a robot, I was just too much of a wanker.
bee-dee bee-dee bee-dee”
Poor lil’ tinman…

There are things that Gene didn’t want that appeal to many fans
There are things that Gene did want that don’t appeal to many fans
Just stuff writers pull outta thar bums… and then Fox steals from them.

As Gene might say “The real writing is in the re-writes… and the re-writes, and the re-writes…”

Captain Hackett
March 6, 2008 1:20 pm

I like Buck Rogers but I hate that stupid robot named Twiki. The series could be much better off without the robot.

It is great to see that we know more and more from Gene. Hopefully we will get much more details from his thoughts.

ARAN
March 6, 2008 1:20 pm

#32 Isn’t TUC sort-of paralleling the state of Trek right now? Those who are looking forward to change in Trek, and those who don’t want to see this change in Trek?

You are right that TUC’s “simplest theme” of our fear of change is timeless, but I think it was about more than just the ‘fear’ of change. I always thought it was about the small few who dared to open their eyes and bring about that change.

March 6, 2008 1:22 pm

It is fascinating to me just how the right set of circumstances came together to make Star Trek work. I remember reading all “the making of ” books 25 yrs ago. Reading about Gene Coon in there and others. It’s kind of like who was the more important, Stan Lee or Jack Kirby? Who made all those comicbook characters work? I think it is a combination of everyone involved.

But while I appreciate the humility Rodenberry shows, I think you have to have and show that feeling of ownership. Not just to further your name and the mythos that surrounds you but so that the unique vision you had can be carried on by others who want to produce new versions of it. True I think future generations can draw on this material and make new stuff – I always think of the original series as the best – the real deal.

March 6, 2008 1:24 pm

I just uploaded this for you guys.
It’s Roddenberry discussing the Philosophy of Star Trek
Very interesting….

http://evoca.com/myrecordings/index.jsp

: )

TWIKI and NOMAD
March 6, 2008 1:29 pm

Hey BND-
Must sterilize- Zzzaaaaaaapppppppppp!!!!
be dee be dee be dee

British Naval Dude
March 6, 2008 1:30 pm

Arrrrrghhh!!!!

I die, Horatio… unless can repair tha unit…. bee dee bee deee

Redjac
March 6, 2008 1:31 pm

#24 She was the best thing about Buck Rogers…no doubt.

March 6, 2008 1:33 pm

27. “The TOS characters – not the actors that originally portrayed them – are iconic in the same sense as Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Superman etc. ST XI will be proof of that.”

I’ve been saying this for years. The fact that fans conflate the personas of the TOS characters to the actors that played them is silly in the extreme. It is like Shakespeare banning any future performances of Hamlet after the death of Richard Burbage.

If Star Trek XI is successful enough to spawn a new TOS series (and I think this is the direction) I suspect a TV cast could be hired to play the characters there and they could retain the movie cast for theatrical releases. I hope they do this.

Papa Jim
March 6, 2008 1:56 pm

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Roddenberry at a lecture at Stanford in 1974. He truly was a great man and visionary.

Batts
March 6, 2008 1:58 pm

#23 thanks for that background information. I am sure there was more than meets the eye with GR’s remarks. However, a fellow trekkie probed further and set the record straight that there was a conflict between the two of them way back between 2nd and 3rd seasons.

I still cant digest someone else playing Spock!! Please see my comments at #11 to understand why i make this statement. OK! But having Nimoy in the film will definitely ease the pain.

Closettrekker
March 6, 2008 1:59 pm
#37–” I always thought it was about the small few who dared to open their eyes and bring about that change.” That is certainly the resolution to the conflict, and the way the fimmakers chose to approach the theme. Personally, I never liked the idea of my heroic Captain Kirk and company being presented as so backward. I think the TOS writers presented them as a far more enlightened version of ourselves. Their attitudes (Spock aside) in TUC seemed to me to be a departure from that enlightenment. As if Jim Kirk would be so ignorant as to blame an entire race for one Klingon criminal’s murder of his son, or behave in such an undiplomatic manner at dinner with his guests–Klingon or not. Anyway, I digress. The resolution to “our current conflict”, over the changing of the guard in Trek, will be the success or failure of STXI’s ability to bring the iconic TOS-era characters to a new generation of fans. Some of the naysayers, who feel that no other actors can successfully bring the heart of those characters to the big screen will never be satisfied that they can, no matter what success the film may have. That is to be expected. To expect such a diverse group of fans as those who love Star Trek to be in 100% agreement about anything other than “Star Trek (in one form or another) is great”, would be delusional. After all, our diversity is our strength as a group of… Read more »
Larry Nemecek
March 6, 2008 2:02 pm

Anthony, good work on the old quotes—i was familiar with a couple of them. ;-) Anyone who gets to see the future Star Trek: The Tour sites, the famous “yellow sweater” interview video has a clip of Gene on this very subject again, from 198, that we included in the “Gene Memorial” info documentary at the entrance.

Devon
March 6, 2008 2:03 pm

Looks like J.J. and Co. are getting somewhat of a blessing from beyond!

Good stuff! Thanks to Anthony and whomever else responsible for finding this stuff out.

CmdrR
March 6, 2008 2:28 pm

To overload the M/AM converters through the phaser optical DATA network makes no sense, CmdR ;)

Thanks for the reality check, Vulcan soul. Must be the tetrion particles decompiling my heuristic subroutines. (Lord, I pray they keep the technobabble to a minimum in the new flick.)

March 6, 2008 2:30 pm

where people say, “Now that is good! That makes Roddenberry look like nothing!” And that would please me!

Whoa! Strong words from The man himself. Damn. JJ has a lot to live up to!

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