A couple of days ago it was announced that "City on the Edge of Forever" writer Harlan Ellison was suing Paramount over alleged payments due to him for merchandising. This lawsuit was big news, being reported all across the web from entertainment sites, to Variety to the New York Times. And now it is sparked a new rumor, which is actually an old rumor.
The rebirth of a rumor
It started with Wired when they posted an article earlier today titled "Ellison Threatening Abrams’ Trek with Lawsuit.’ The article claims that Ellison is "oiling up the two-cycle chainsaw to take on Paramount and J.J. Abrams over the new Star Trek movie." This would be news as there was absolutely no mention of Abrams or the new film in the original press release issued by Ellison and his attorney on Sunday. Wired’s proof of this is actually linking to an article from 2007 on RottenTomatoes about a report from AICN and CHUD about Harlan being upset about reports that the Guardian of Forever was in the new movie. The actual source of that that was actually a rumor started by IESB on November 11th, 2007, which sparked a tirade by Ellison on his site (see TrekMovie article on that).
The problem with all of that is that TrekMovie actually talked to Mr. Ellison about this a month later in December of 2007, and he dispelled it. We got Ellison on video saying that he looked into it and there was no Guardian of Forever in the Star Trek movie, and he went on to say the Internet ‘bombed out of existence’ and refered to people who spread rumors on it as ‘idiots’ along with many other colorful metaphors. Ellison went on to say he thought JJ Abrams was “a brilliant writer” and that Abrams is “does not need to steal” from him.
(see the video below, discussion of the GoF and new Trek movie is at around 1:30).
But a good rumor is hard to kill, and so Wired decided to bring it back from the dead. This then spurned other sites to pick up the rumor, including Cinemablend and SciFiWire. So just to be sure TrekMovie again re-confirmed that the Guardian of Forever does not play a factor in the new movie, and if you haven’t heard already [SPOILERS] all the time traveling in the film is done via ships…two of them to be specific [END SPOILERS].
And to be super duper sure, we checked with John H. Carmichael, Mr. Ellison’s attorney. Mr. Carmichael tells TrekMovie that he saw the reports about a link between the lawsuit and the new movie and he had "no idea what that is about." Ellison’s lawyer made it clear that the new film is "not the focus" of the suit. As we reported on Sunday, the suit is related mostly to merchandising and the thing that sparked it all off was the 2006 publication of the "Crucible" trilogy of books by Simon and Schuster, which featured the Guardian of Forever. Even the timing of the case close to the film is coincidental. Carmichael tells TrekMovie they have been trying to work with the WGA for the past few years to resolve Ellison’s issues until they just gave up, and are in fact naming the WGA in the suit as well for not "doing its stated purpose" of advocating writer’s rights.
The Crucible trilogy is what really set Ellison off
While on the phone Mr. Carmichael also noted that Paramount should actually not be part of suit at all, and they will be filing an update to their original suit to change the target to CBS Corporation, who they have deemed to be the current legal successor to Desilu. It was Desilu in the 60s who had the contract with Ellison and the other writers. Desilu was purchased by Paramount, but after the Viacom split, apparently it is now CBS Corporation which is the appropriate legal entity for contracts associated with Desilu.
TrekMovie will have more on the Ellison lawsuit as it moves through the legal system.
Spock, are you sure you know how to work this thing?
Gerrold supports Ellison
In addition to sparking reports and rumors, the Ellison lawsuit has also sparked a lot of debate. Our first article already has hundreds of comments, some of them quite ‘colorful’. One notable commentator is one of Ellison’s fellow Star Trek scribes David Gerrold, writer of “Trouble with Tribbles.” Gerrold made several comments in support of Ellison, including this note to Ellison’s critics, (in part):
I know Harlan, I’ve known him for over forty years. He’s a passionate man. He gave me one of the character references I needed when I adopted my son. He’s also set a standard for writers throughout the field to aspire to. And in all the time I’ve known him, I’ve watched him continually educate himself and grow, not only as a storyteller, but also as a human being. He does not deserve one-tenth of the BS that people spread about him.
That he never hesitates to rage against stupidity and injustice should make him a superhero in this arena, not an object of disdain to the uninformed. This man has done more to elevate the science fiction field than almost anybody I can think of. He has continually demanded that writers function at their highest level, that producers use the medium to educate and challenge and inspire. He has continually demanded that all of us be the very best we can be. That he is impatient is not because he is a crank, it is because the job is so big and most of us are moving too slowly.