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Harlan Ellison has filed a lawsuit over what he claims are unpaid residuals stemming from his classic Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever”. The episode is often ranked among the top episodes in Star Trek history, and Ellison, according to a press release, “wants every penny of his long ago agreed-upon share of the revenue from Paramount’s relentless Trek exploitations.”
Ellison wants in on the merchandising
Ellison has, for years, been vocal about what he believes to be the uncompensated use of elements of the “City” teleplay including the Guardian of Forever, Edith Keeler, and the setting of the episode. While his claims are not new, they took on a decidedly sharper tone in 2006 when Pocket Books released the "Crucible" trilogy. Written by David R. George III, the trilogy was, in many respects, worked around the premise of “City on the Edge of Forever”, though it told an ever-expanding storyline that surrounded McCoy, Spock, and Kirk. When that particular watershed broke, Ellison wrote on his website, “If they play nice and tug their forelock and acknowledge where the material came from and pay me a trailer-truck full of cash, I will not sue them in Federal District Court…”
Crucible Trilogy part of Ellison’s suit against Paramount and CBS/Simon & Schuster
The increasing array of marketing that accompanies Star Trek including Christmas ornaments and DVD sets are also now now drawing the writer’s ire. Ellison claims that CBS and Paramount have gone silent, refusing to disclose sales figures on items derived from his work. According to his representative, John H. Carmichael, “Mr. Ellison wants every penny of his long ago agreed-upon share of the revenue from Paramount’s relentless Trek exploitations…” Earlier in the year after preliminary hearings were held regarding Ellison’s complaint TrekMovie contacted CBS and Simon & Schuster – both had no comment.
2004 Hallmark Guardian ornament noted in Ellison Lawsuit
Ellison: Pay Me!
The outspoken Ellison makes it clear in the release that he has one agenda with this suit, to get paid. The release quotes Ellison in part:
And please make sure to remember, at the moment some Studio mouthpiece calls me a mooch, and says I’m only pursuing this legal retribution to get into their ‘deep pockets,’ tell’m Ellison snarled back, ‘F- – - -in’-A damn skippy!’ I’m no hypocrite. It ain’t about the ‘principle,’ friend, its about the MONEY! Pay Me! Am I doing this for other writers, for Mom (still dead), and apple pie? Hell no! I’m doing it for the 35-year-long disrespect and the money!
Ellison’s release also points to “Pay the Writer” video clip on YouTube, from the documentary “Dreams With Sharp Teeth”, which exemplifies Ellison’s feelings towards getting properly compensated.
Also named as a defendant in the March 13th filing is the Writers Guild of America, who, Ellison’s representatives claim, have failed to act on Ellison’s behalf after numerous requests. The case has been filed in the Central District of California, and is awaiting a hearing date.
More on Harlan Ellison and his suit at HarlanEllison.com