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VegasCon 08: New Official Star Trek Fan Club Announced August 8, 2008

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Conventions/Events/Attractions,Fandom , trackback

Today at the official Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, CBS announced that a new official Star Trek fan club will be launched by the end of the year. Details are sketchy for now, but CBS promised more details to come next month and have launched a new website to gather fan input on this new venture. In related news, Dan Madsen, who ran the previous fan club, is involved in a new fan venture that is partnering with Roddenberry.com

Last club went for a quarter century
The previous official Star Trek fan club was in continuous operation from the early 80s to 2005. At its peak in the mid nineties it had over 90,000 members. The club (along with others, including the official Star Wars fan club) was owned and operated by Dan Madsen until he sold his company Fantastic Media to Decipher in 2001 (although he stayed on after that). Decipher ran into trouble in 2005 and closed down all their fan clubs and the Trek fan club license has been dormant ever since. The club’s primary benefit was the official fan club magazine which evolved into Star Trek Communicator. A subscription came with membership along with discounts and some exclusive merchandise. Before the age of the Internet, The Communicator was the primary source of all there was to know in the world of Trek.

A new kind of fan club – looking for your input
TrekMovie spoke to John Van Citters after he made the announcement and the CBS Products executive made it clear they are hoping to put together a new kind of fan club that is ready for the 21st century. CBS has been working to bring back a fan club for years, but have just recently closed a deal with a new (unnamed) company to run it. One big difference is that the new club will not have a magazine as it is felt that the official Star Trek Magazine from Titan is sufficient. The club will also have a much bigger emphasis on the web. This web focus plus separation of official fan club and official magazine approach has also been adopted by other clubs, including the official Star Wars ‘Hyperspace’ fan club. Van Sitters says they want the new club to be more interactive and include live events in addition to the strong web component (again, all of which sounds a lot like Hyperspace). However, Van Sitters said there were no specific other fan clubs they were using as a model, noting "we are looking to bring the best components from different clubs together."

It was also clear that CBS and the new partner have not nailed down all the specifics, or even a name for the new club. It also isn’t clear how this new more web-focused fan club will relate to the now mostly dormant official website, STARTREK.COM CBS said they will be making a detailed announcement for the new fan club next month, but they are hoping to get some fan input to help the.  To that end CBS wants fans to visit startrekcountdown.com to fill out a survey gauging interest in four areas (Events, Exclusive Merchandise, News/Previews, & Forums/Community activities. You can also enter comments on what you think a fan club should be.


Tell CBS what you want in a fan club

Madsen’s new fan community
Dan Madsen, the former owner of the Star Trek and Star Wars fan clubs has joined up with the technology company VRDAI to help build fan communities. The first of these communities, the Roddenberry Sci-Fi Network (or RSN), was also announced this week at the Roddenberry.com presentation. Again details are sketchy and a more detailed announcement is expected in the near future, however the TrekMovie is told it will be an online community with the goal "to create a place where fans and sci-fi stars, writers and professionals can interact in a community setting."

TrekMovie.com will have much more on these exciting new developments in the upcoming weeks.

 

Comments

1. LoyalStarTrekFan - August 8, 2008

It’s nice to hear that the Star Trek Official Fanclub will be back!

And for the first time ever – FIRST!

2. Jeffrey S. Nelson - August 8, 2008

Dan Madsen is the greatest and should be in charge of the CBS club.

3. boJac - August 8, 2008

Join the official Star Trek fan club, get a Tribble? That’d be pretty awesome.

4. Thomas - August 8, 2008

i followed the startrekcountdown link, and I wrote about how the Fan Club could get behind community-realted causes like education and healthcare. Thinking back, it may be a little too political for a fan club to be involved in.

5. demon barber of starfleet - August 8, 2008

It’s about time they started a new Trek fanclub.

6. Beam Me Up - August 9, 2008

Awesome. Can’t wait to join. I get Titan’s Star Trek magazine in the mail, and I enjoy it.

7. StevenPDX - August 9, 2008

Totally looking forward to it!

8. S. John Ross - August 9, 2008

Hmm. I think it’s great that some version of the club is returning, but without a club-specific magazine as part of the deal I’ll be curious to see what they offer to make joining worth the ducats (I don’t do latinum jokes; I’m a TOS guy).

What kind of stuff _do_ other SF-property official fan clubs officially offer to their official members, officially? I’m out of that loop and genuinely curious … is it just a matter of social networking (in which case the Internet really provides all of what most folks would need already) or stuff like exclusive/members-only web content (celeb interviews, etc)?

9. Enc - August 9, 2008

be sure to drink your Ovaltine no. 8

10. Splock - August 9, 2008

Looks like CBS aren’t interested in markets other than the US and are only interested in capturing Zip Codes. You’d think they would want to capture the international market…

11. CanuckLou - August 9, 2008

@9 – yes worrisome and I added comments about that in my response.

…the adventure continues…

12. John Tenuto - August 9, 2008

Welcome back Dan to the Star Trek fan community with Roddenberry Sci-Fi Network

Before the Internet, there was Dan Madsen. Star Trek fan experiences would not be the same if not for Dan. For twenty-five years, Dan was publisher and president of the Official Star Trek Fan Club providing fans with information about actors, writers, artists, and crew. It was the Communicator that allowed fans to do exactly that with each other, communicate. Those who meet him learn he is a well-rounded person, his true passions being his wife and son, and his fascination with Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain. Dan is more than a Star Trek fan, yet what he has given to fans is a true gift.

Dan Madsen grew up in 1960s and 1970s Colorado. After a rather harsh day at school, with fellow students making fun of him, he grabbed a snack and sat on the couch to ruminate. Star Trek was on, with his brother watching. The episode was “Plato’s Stepchildren” which featured actor Michael Dunn as Alexander, whose short stature made him the person of constant ridicule for the Platonians. During the episode, Captain Kirk tells Alexander that “Alexander, where I come from, size, shape, or color makes no difference, and nobody has the power.” Dan was inspired by both the imagery and the theme of the episode.

Dan published his own newsletter during the TMP era. The newsletter was enjoyed by Gene Roddenberry who would read each issue. Dan was able to get interviews with Leonard Nimoy and provide real news in his unofficial newsletter. Then Dan got a phone call from Paramount telling Dan he could not write the newsletter as Star Trek was copyrighted. Dan told them that he wasn’t making money, rather it was costing him money! He was merely trying to help the show and movies. Paramount knew this, and then because of what they called his proper mix of “fanaticism and professionalism” he was being offered the license to the run the Official Star Trek Fan Club.

Dan Madsen is a great guy and a real Star Trek fan.

13. Holger - August 9, 2008

I’m a bit skeptical. What do they want to offer online which you can’t have for free on the net? The Star Wars Hyperspace online stuff is not worth the money. Let’s see what the Star Trek club has to offer.

14. Harry Dog - August 9, 2008

Splock – I thought exactly the same. I think Star Trek’s appeal is global so should the website be (much like this great one), however CBS are an America Corp so they’ll be looking to score cash on the home front understandably

15. New Horizon - August 9, 2008

This new club CBS is putting together looks too CGI, needs another rendering pass. ;)

16. Fwise3 - August 9, 2008

:-D

17. V'GER STRIKES BACK - August 9, 2008

This is great news, I hope they have better luck with it this time.

18. Orb of the Emissary - August 9, 2008

YAY! I’m excited!!! Can’t wait! :-)

19. Jim Nightshade - August 9, 2008

Too bad they are not better organized earlier….might have been able to do something to help stop or delay the experience from closing…oh well here is hoping to a more positive star trek future…

20. Spockbuoy - August 9, 2008

I sure do miss The Official Star Trek Fan Cub Magazine! I started subscribing around 1983 when it as a small brochure, and treasured the new information in every issue until it ceased publication. But that was way before the internet…

And while I greatly respect Titan as a company for keeping a Trek magazine on the newsstand, and even more because of their support for Scifi fandom in general (I loved their Firefly/Serentify publications, as well as LOST and BSG mags — though the latter died an early & silent death ), Their Star Trek magazine simply doesn’t come close to matching the consistent quality and in-depth coverage that was the hallmark of Madsen’s original Fan Club magazine.

I just don’t see how any Trek magazine can stay afloat based on 3 month old “breaking-news” and rehashed interviews with guest stars. The internet and sites like trekmovie.com have stolen all the magazine’s thunder.

Personally, I thought Fabrini had done it perfectly with their Star Trek: The Magazine. That was the high point in Trek publishing. A glossy combination of trecknical journal, behind the scenes coverage, as well as the typical interviews and extended-media coverage. I keep all those issues in a place of honer, and feel sad every time I buy a new issue of Titan’s mag and remember what we used to be able to find between such covers. There’s just no comparison.

Anyway, with principal photography over on the new movie, I can’t imagine what any new “online fan club” could offer online that would be of any interest to paying customers. Hypserspace seemed kinda cool at one point when you could peek into the production process on the prequal films. I can’t imagine why anyone would pay for it now though. So any similar Trek-oriented business model seems destined for failure to me.

A magazine that has serious behind-the-scenes production access would be a big draw for my money. Personally, I could care less about the endlessly rehashed guest-actor interviews and summaries of the expanded Trek “universe.” Though, there’s probably not a whole lot left to cover since CBS has auctioned off so much of Trek’s heritage.

I think the days of classic Trek fan clubs are over. Maybe if the new movie franchise takes off it can be reborn, but until then it’s just going to be a shadow of past greatness.

21. Irishtrekkie - August 9, 2008

@10

looking at the screenshot ,

i see name , last name , email adress , and zip code
i am guessing they only wanted american zip codes ?

so can anyone confirm is this fan club will only be
for fans in america ?. i mean they may say they will be global club,
but from my experience , International fans will have to pay double to join
and wont get any of the Exclusive merchanise , and cant enter the competitons , so yea its really pointless.

Personally if they want to get it done well they should look for some people or some company to run the club in different continents set up in germany or the uk for the european branch of the club .

22. sebimeyer - August 9, 2008

I got me my fan club right here. Although I miss Richard Arnolds take on things. Anthony? ;)

23. Beam Me Up - August 9, 2008

I subscribed to the old club after Star Trek V, and have just about every issue.

24. admiralross2400 - August 9, 2008

21: When I clicked it asked for Postal Code rather than Zip so I was going to ask the opposite, if this was for that old UK fan club. I’m in the UK and I joined the UK fan club then had nothing but bother so cancelled my subscription in the end.

25. Irishtrekkie - August 9, 2008

@24 , well i am not saying it wont let people from outside Americajoin , but unless there are people or a company running it here in europe, it will not be as good for us , for the reasons i stated above

“International fans will have to pay double to join
and wont get any of the Exclusive merchanise, i have to pay alot to ship it , and cant enter the competitons , plus many other reasons “

26. GREAT NEWS! New and Improved STAR TREK Fan Club Coming Soon! | J.M. Bell - August 9, 2008

[...] and Improved STAR TREK Fan Club Coming Soon! Posted in August 9th, 2008 by JM Bell in Shatner From TrekMovie.com Today at the official Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, CBS announced that a new official Star [...]

27. Mike - August 9, 2008

I agree there is certainly international appeal to justify an international effort, but from a purely BUSINESS standpoint, licensing clubs in different countries increases the revenue … and we all know that REVENUE drives the studios and the media. Even when there was the Official Fan Club, Paramount was licensing overseas clubs.

Madsen’s publication was the most consistent and thoughtful of the STAR TREK fan publications, combining mainstream Trek news with articles and columns that made fans think anout connections to the real world around them– the column “Buiding Treknology” was my favorite, running nearly 13 years and it amazed me every time. I wish CBS/Paramount luck, but without Madsen’s people and connections, I’m doubtful it will be much more than an online marketing gimmick. I can’t understand why he wasn’t reoffered the franchise.

28. Izbot - August 9, 2008

Trekmovie.com is the only Star Trek fan club I want to be a member of! There were no real advantages to being a ‘member’ of the old club (just a subscription to the magazine which you could buy on newsstands already and I got a free patch once). The magazine, like the current Star Trek Magazine, was never the best way to receive Trek news. By the time the magazine came out the news was usually a month-and-a-half old.

No, this site provides me with pretty much everything I want. Plus we can interact here!

29. Beam Me Up - August 9, 2008

With all the fine Trek websites today I can’t go back to magazines with the months old informaiton

30. Lee - August 9, 2008

I miss the old fan club and the magazine. There was something about the official fan club and rag being run by the fans themselves, with the assistance of the production staff from the shows and movies.

31. John_Sullivan - August 9, 2008

“A new kind of fan club – looking for your input.”

This response is from the guy who LOVES Dan Madsen to death and thinks Star Trek would have been much better from the get-go if Eugene W. and not Gene would have invented Star Trek. Well, I’m a realist … I don’t even think EWR was born when Star Trek first aired … but Eugene seems to really have a concise and complete understanding of what makes the show so great, without all of those diversions into “the human condition” as if we’re really all that close to Daddy’s unrealistic utopian vision of humanity that borders or crosses the border into a genuine religion.

I am one of the few fans that waived the “refunds” due members when Decipher’s “Star Trek Fan Club” ran into trouble. Said to keep the “dues” as a tip for how much I appreciated the magazines received before the club folded with unpublished but paid-for issues.

Now, as to what the fans want: …

at least this one …

1) Publish nude or semi-nude pictures of the actresses. I was always a little disappointed that we would have to go off-campus to buy FMH or Maxiuum to see Linda Park or Jolene half-naked. If the actresses want to make a name for themselves to further their careers, let’s keep them on the home team.

2) Don’t publish merchandise by and for young fans who have obviously never been on a real date. An example is in a related story where there was a gypsy table set up by some man who obviously has never been on a date trying to sell overpriced merchandise to young geeks who will probably never be on a date. Gamers need to find a new game, if you know what I mean. Humanity can use the increased population on Earth resulting from their decision to boldly go where no Star Trek zealot has gone before … especially as in the future the Klingon and Romulan boys and girls won’t be underpopulated because the males have wasted their lives in fantasy games.

3) Get a little inventive. For instance, get Paris Hilton on board to sit in a lawn chair half-naked to discuss the brilliance of how matter and antimatter can solve the energy crisis.

4) Hire inventive writers. My resume will be on the way as soon as anyone asks for it.

32. Trevorj - August 9, 2008

@31: I hope dearly that nobody asks for it.

33. Larry Nemecek - August 12, 2008

<>

@28–You are absolutely right on both counts. That’s why, since @ 2002, we were screaming to get online with a Fan Club/Communicator component (limited only by Decipher’s situation), and why our new club model pitches since 2005 were online-driven, with an annual or semi-annual in print . Truth is, web IS best for news and same-ol same-ol interviews… but there are SOME “Keeper” items you want on the shelf, on paper: blueprints, large art specs, large photos, memorial pieces, etc. It should be driven by a “best of (today’s) both worlds” proposition.

Sadly, the coming of digital cameras, and laxness around the set–and great Viacom licensing savvy– let us do a lot more in the in-depth vein the last 2-3 years of Communicator–only to have it all cut off thanks to Decipher’s game industry demise, followed by the flux of the “Viacom divorce” that changed so much re: Trek. But there’s still plenty of Star Trek old and new that’s never seen the light of day or been talked about.

As for now? Let’s see what’s out there …

34. Izbot - August 13, 2008

I think the days of Official Fan Clubs are long gone by now. What can they offer ‘members’ that they can’t get online or in a magazine, etc? What prestige comes with being a *card-carrying member* of the *official* fan club? Can you imagine someone standing up at a con during a Q & A and saying, “Yes, question for Mr. Nimoy. My name is Izbot and I’m a member of The Official Star Trek Fan Club (so my question is very scholarly and important)…”.

I just don’t see the point in it. There already is an ‘official’ (CBS-Paramount approved) Star Trek Magazine — and much of its’ news is already very old by the time of publication.

35. Izbot - August 13, 2008

33. Larry Nemecek

RE: “online-driven, with an annual or semi-annual in print .”

First off, thanks for joining us and providing the info! My thoughts are that what you are suggesting (mostly online content with some exclusive semi-annually published material) sounds like a reasonable deal — as long as those semi-annually published magazines, etc were *fan club exclusives* and not available on newsstands, comic shops or bookstores. I quit subscribing to the former fan club because I could always (since at least 1988) pick up the magazine at my local comic shop. I didn’t see getting a fan club patch as much of an incentive.

If the club is resurrected it should strive to be something exclusive — for the real die-hards. Otherwise it’s no different than any other magazine out there. As for printed content, I *loved* Star Trek: The Magazine that was around during the late late 90s and early 2000s. The book’s design was awful but the content — all of it — was sublime! If the new club offered sporatically-published book or magazine premiums in this vein I’d be all over it!

#31. John_Sullivan brought up the possibility (facetiously I hope?) of ‘nude or semi-nude pictures of the actresses’ which is a bit brazen but it got me thinking — one thing I always disliked about most Trek actor interviews was the fact that the accompanying photos were mostly just their Trek-oriented publicity stills. It always gave the impression that a Trek interview (for Starlog, Communicator, ST: The Magazine, etc) was kinda less important than a “real” interview with, say, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide or any number of other non-Trek publication. Could it hurt to assign a real photographer to do a photoshoot with that actor to accompany said interview? If it is to be an exclusive fan club it’s members should expect and receive exclusive incentives.

36. Izbot - August 13, 2008

…and another thing! With the overwhelming deluge of Star Trek material and merchandise out there it would be really, really nice to have something (like those proposed semi-annual exclusive fan club magazines or whatever) that was rare and not easy to come by.

37. Larry Nemecek - August 13, 2008

Izbot–

Umm, we’re on the same side of the fence here! Go back and look at many of the ST Comm. magazine interviews we did with actors, writers, etc. the last 2-3 years. We got to where we tried to get the personal pics for diversity. Photoshoots for each interview are not only expensive, but were impractical many times–but we could also fold in either personal pics, or exclusive “civillian” glam shots, etc. We got to where we insisted on it if at all possible. But the days of the REALLY old Starlog “official mags” with stale canned set shots over and over were already long dead.

As for newsstand sales–this actually extended the range of Trek for lay fans. Insiders yes would prefer a membership/subscription with perks, but overall it greatly expanded Trek’s reach once we got to Walmarts and Barnes & Nobles.

And yes, value added perks–always the ideal; reality finances intruded otherwise. A new club model would and will try again on that front.

And the ST: Off. Magazine? Yes, those were expensive, but were the long-sought US market entry promised that amortized the cost of that material (art/tech, not the news bits) that was really done first for the UK’s Official Fact Files partwork weekly magazine seen worldwide EXCEPT in the US. That’s why the STOM ended after 4 yrs–the techie, already done material was used up. That would have been double the per-issue copy (or more) had it started up from scratch as it did; never had enough subs to sustain that level further anyway. Sad but true.

38. David Wood - February 27, 2009

I LOOKING SEE THE NEW FLMS ON STAR TREK NO 11 OUT MAY 2009.

David

Star Trek fan

39. Joe Ann Hefner - May 8, 2009

My daughter was an original Trekee and had collected merchandise and
collectibles for many many years, going back to the original Star Trek
she had a enormous collections, of video’s ,star logs, toys, games
you name it she probably had it, she passed away in 2005 and I
am needing some assistance in finding a collector that would
appreciate this collection as much as she did.

40. David Orange - February 13, 2011

I am actor David Orange who portrayed the memorable character “Sleepy Klingon” in Star Trek VI- the Undiscovered Country.
Currently acting out of New York, I have begun participating in Star Trek signings of 8 x 10 color photos of my likeness and also Collectable Card series.

I am open to participating in Star Trek conventions and signings, in perso of via mail.

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