CBS Asks Phase II Not To Film Spinrad’s Lost Star Trek Script – Will Film New Gerrold Script Instead

A few weeks back we reported that the Star Trek Phase II fan series was going to film Norman Spinrad’s “lost” Star Trek script titled "He Walked Among Us." However, it looks like CBS has put the kibosh on the production. TrekMovie has talked with Phase II’s James Cawley to get the details on what happened and where they go next.


CBS Asks Phase II Not To Film Spinrad’s’ "He Walked Among Us"

As reported in our previous article, after sci-fi writer Norman Spinrad finished work on the Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine" he was commissioned (and paid $5000) to write another episode for the series. Spinrad turned around a script dealing with the prime directive called "He Walked Among Us," but after it was re-written by producer Gene Coon into something which Spinrad felt was an "unfunny comedy" he asked Gene Roddenberry to pull the episode from the schedule. Fast forward to 2012 and Spinrad rediscovers the script and publishes it online as an e-book which gets the notice of the fan production Star Trek: Phase II.

However the New York Times is reporting that following the announcement that Phase II was going to shoot Spinrad’s script in October, CBS contacted the fan production asking them not to move foreword with "He Walked Among Us." The report has been confirmed with Phase II producer/star James Cawley, who tells TrekMovie that he was "happy to comply" with the request and that there was "no animosity." Cawley notes that "Star Trek is their sandbox and we have always worked with CBS so this was not a problem."

CBS also asked Mr. Spinrad to stop selling the script online, and he has complied. The writer offered the following explanation on Facebook "I and CBS have agreed to resolve our disputes concerning the ownership of the Work; as part of the settlement between the Parties, the Parties have agree that there will be no further comment; and CBS is considering opportunities to offer licensed copies of the Work."

This wouldn’t have been the first time that Phase II has worked with a script that began life at Paramount (now CBS). On April 5th Phase II will release "The Child" which was originally written by Jon Povill and Jaron Summers for Paramount’s never-produced Star Trek: Phase II project in the 70s. The script was later re-written by Maurice Hurley for the second season Star Trek: The Next Generation. And in 2008 Phase II released the two-part episode "Blood and Fire" based on a script originally written by David Gerrold (writer of "Trouble With Tribbles") for Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Cawley confirms that he had no pushback from CBS on those previous episodes and he does not know why they are treating Spinrad’s "He Walked Among Us" differently. In a statement regarding this issue CBS says "We fully appreciate and respect the passion and creativity of the ‘Star Trek’ fan and creative communities. This is simply a case of protecting our copyrighted material and the situation has been amicably resolved.”

Cawley says that Phase II continues to move forward. In June he plans to go into production on "Bread and Savagery" a new script by Rick Chambers which will be a sequel to the original Star Trek series episode "Bread and Circuses." And in October, instead of producing Spinrad’s script, Cawley is now planning on filming an episode based on a new script from David Gerrold. No details yet on that script except Cawley’s hint "it involves something fuzzy."



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March 28, 2012 6:19 pm

Maybe CBS wants to do an animated special with it?

Red Dead Ryan
March 28, 2012 6:27 pm

This is weird. Clash of egos perhaps?

Ensign BlueShirt
March 28, 2012 6:29 pm

If the studio doesn’t plan on doing anything with it outside of reprinting the script they should leave Spinrad and Cawley alone. I respect the legality of this but it’s not like Phase II was planning on selling the episode to the masses. And I’m also confused (along with everybody except CBS) how this differs from “Blood and Fire” or “The Child”, both of which are based on unused or very old drafts of scripts that Paramount/CBS has owned for decades.

March 28, 2012 6:30 pm

Bet the issue was more due to legal entanglements between CBS and Spinrad than this specific script….or perhaps some one-off legal trigger on some other contract that kicks in if something of Spinrad’s gets produced, even if its only by the Phase II folks. Spinrad may well have known this, and that’s why he made the script somewhat notorious, and CBS offered him a small pile of money just to pull it out of the public eye.

March 28, 2012 6:32 pm

Hmmm. Why would CBS even care about an ages old project they’re not involved with. Unless,…. they are. And what does that mean! They still care about the original series? The original concept! Weird.

Dr. Cheis
March 28, 2012 6:39 pm

Curious. I’m guessing CBS intends to profit from the script in some manner within the next few years. Perhaps a novel, or perhaps ITS THE NEW STAR TREK MOVIE OMG

secondary back ups
March 28, 2012 6:39 pm


March 28, 2012 6:45 pm

I think Secondary Back ups may have part of a point… The Doomsday Machine is one of the top rated TOS episodes. They could have plans to combine the two scripts for JJA Trek 3 (Aka Star Trek 13). Let’s hope whatever they do for Star Trek 13, it works better than Apollo 13.

March 28, 2012 6:48 pm

I bet that they’re doing it because it’s the original and they wanted to use the unfunny comedy. But they won’t do that.

Give me TOS, or Give me Death!
March 28, 2012 6:49 pm

I’m guessing CBS randomly decided to publish the script as a novel?

March 28, 2012 6:56 pm

How much you wanna bet that Spinrad has been given the go-ahead to turn this into a Trek novel now?

March 28, 2012 6:56 pm

Just curious if there is at least a synopsis out there so we can at least read about the highlights.

As to CBS pulling it because it will be the new movie, heh, riiiight….Paramount makes the movies, CBS owns the rights to the television movies.

March 28, 2012 7:01 pm

I’m quiting all my jobs and moving to New York to follow Cawley & company!

“Bread and Savagery” sounds great!


Harry Ballz
March 28, 2012 7:05 pm

March 28, 2012 7:08 pm

It would be interesting to see an Abramsverse version of this screenplay.

secondary back ups
March 28, 2012 7:13 pm

i was just saying that to be an inflammatory troll, i do not really think that is the movie.

rare interest of full disclosure

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
March 28, 2012 7:14 pm

Maybe C.B.S is waiting for the right time to do a new Trek series and would like to have that script as one of the Eps.

Peter Loader
March 28, 2012 7:18 pm

I bought the script when it was on sale. I didn’t think it was that great, just a run of the mill episode.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
March 28, 2012 7:20 pm

Hey Peter. save it. Might be worth something one day.

March 28, 2012 7:23 pm

Just a run of the mill TOS episode?!

Can’t believe I read that.

March 28, 2012 7:24 pm

or it has elements from that story in it could explain a great many things

March 28, 2012 7:37 pm

Thanks Trekmovie for the updates on Star Trek Phase II!!!
So looking forward to next Friday’s release and all future episodes!

Kor the Klingon
March 28, 2012 7:41 pm

Most unfortunate. It would have been glorious.

March 28, 2012 7:47 pm

17. If you hadn’t said it, someone else would have, and meant it. Sigh.

I’m speculating/guessing/bullshitting that because they (or two theys before them) bought the script originally (and/or commissioned him to write it), it’s still their property, regardless of whether they even still knew about it or whether they really want to do something with it. Was Blood and Fire sold to TNG or did they just decide they didn’t want it?

March 28, 2012 7:50 pm

What he said:
9. Anthony Pascale – March 28, 2012
Guys, CBS has no idea what JJ is going to do for the third Star Trek movie. It’s likely that JJ doesn’t know. This has nothing to do with Abrams/Bad Robot. It was something that CBS did on their own.

What we heard:
Star Trek 13 will be about this lost script and will be all about Shatner as Kirk fighting Khan…

Pensive's Wetness
March 28, 2012 7:50 pm

How many Spocks does Phase II have/had?

Sebastian S.
March 28, 2012 7:56 pm

Too bad about the Spinrad “He Walks Among Us”, but “Blood and Savagery” sounds wicked cool. I always felt that the Christian parallel revolt seen (in an embryonic stage) in “Blood and Circuses” deserves further exploration and this is the perfect medium for that exploration…

Keep up the GREAT work, James Cawley (and the STPII team)! ;-)

March 28, 2012 7:58 pm

^ Does it matter? None of them could act.

Dennis Bailey
March 28, 2012 8:17 pm

“Spock” at Phase II does seem very much like Spinal Tap’s drummer. LOL

March 28, 2012 8:40 pm

Maybe “We Walked Among Us” is the basis for the new movie?

March 28, 2012 8:50 pm

If CBS is so concerned with its copyright, how about doing something with it. How about a new TV series? One can dream. One can dream.

March 28, 2012 8:50 pm

My theory as to why the Child and Blood and fire, is that trek fan films have a much wider audience now than when those two were produced by Cawley and crew, especially after all the national news coverage over the somewhat controversial Blood and Fire. The fact that Cawley’s announcement also made national news, could have played a part in CBS saying, hey its ok to create your own original stories, but dont produce stories that we commisioned even if they were never filmed.

was there any actual money that exchanged hands in Phase II aquiring permission from the writer to shoot the episode?

March 28, 2012 8:52 pm

oops i meant to say since the child was announced, not produced since the teaser for the child was only recently released. sorry bout that.

March 28, 2012 9:03 pm

Just legal? Ownership issue?
OR- plans for the script….? Hmmmmm….

March 28, 2012 9:35 pm

CBS’s logic is becoming clearer now. I think, uninformed opinion here, if Spinrad had not tried to sell the script online then the New Voyages/Phase II production would still be happening. When CBS saw an attempt to monetize intellectual property it believes it owns, they saw a line had been crossed. Stopping sale of the script was their goal. Phase II being asked to cancel production is collateral damage. It’s logical to be consistent, with this script, that until there is an resolution between CBS and Spinrad then no one else should be allowed to use the script. It could further be argued that Spinrad directing the script for Phase II while continuing to offer the script for sale is an activity that foreseeably would increase sales of the script, thereby connecting Phase II, albeit accidentally, to unauthorized monetization of the property. Pushing Phase II away from this script protects Phase II. CBS did not tell Phase II to shut down. They said not to produce this script right now. It’s thus unspoken that Phase II can continue doing what they were otherwise doing. Again, just speculating from this armchair.

March 28, 2012 9:38 pm

“Bread and savagery”? Do they not get that “Bread and Circuses” is the translation of the Latin proverb about giving the masses their panem et circenses?

Sebastian S.
March 28, 2012 9:52 pm

# 37

I think what the title may refer to is that the ‘bread and circuses’ of the TOS episode are no longer enough to pacify that planet’s burgeoning Christian/slave revolt, hence the ‘savagery’ in the sequel title.

March 28, 2012 9:57 pm

I think I know what that “fuzzy” word is: TRIBBLES!!!!! :D

March 28, 2012 9:58 pm

#36 Makes sense to me.

It must be a disappointment to Cawley and company, but at least his reaction has been a suitably diplomatic one. Too bad I can’t say the same for Spinrad, who’s taken some vitriolic shots at JJ Abrams as a result. I can understand him being upset, but he just kind of comes off as petty and bitter from my perspective.

Anthony Thompson
March 28, 2012 10:20 pm

Bummer. I was looking forward to that. Incidentally, the story of that episode proves that Gene Coon was not without faults!

Michael Hall
March 28, 2012 10:30 pm

@ 36 Magic Al:

It’s all just speculation. . . but my sense is that your take on the situation is correct, or at least in the ballpark. (Though, in that case, why was Harlan Ellison allowed to profit off of his original version of the “City on the Edge of Forever” script, another piece of intellectual property that Paramount had paid for and presumably owned outright?) Too bad, in any case. Spinrad is a literary icon in the SF genre, and while he was initially not all that enamoured with “The Doomsday Machine” as produced, he’s since made peace with the liberties taken with his original concept to the degree that he comes off as rather proud of this small contribution to American pop culture. It would have been a real kick to see him take up where he left off forty years ago; certainly, more edifying in terms of Trek history than anything David Gerrod is likely to come up with.

DeShonn Steinblatt
March 28, 2012 10:39 pm


Correct. It had everything to do with Spinrad’s behavior, and nothing to do with an obscure fan film.

March 28, 2012 10:53 pm

That’s a shame. ‘The Doomsday Machine’ was one of the best ever Trek eps so it would have been interesting to see another Spinrad script on the screen.

BTW – “CBS contacted the fan production asking them not to move foreword …”
Nitpicky, i know, but a foreword is what goes at the front of a book. “Forward” chaps. “Forward”.

Michael Hall
March 28, 2012 10:54 pm

If anyone was curious as to what #40 was alluding to when he referred to Mr. Spinrad’s “vitriolic shots” at J.J. Abrams, here they are:

“But I am not legally bound not to say that I found J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek film quite inferior to the Phase II videos and his cavalier attitude towards the decades-long legacy of what Star Trek has come to mean to the general culture quite reprehensible, and indeed artistically counterproductive.”

Heh. For what it’s worth, I think Spinrad’s comments are just frakking awesome.

Harry Ballz
March 28, 2012 11:33 pm


Sheesh, look the word “pissy” up in the dictionary and there’s Spinrad’s photo!

March 28, 2012 11:37 pm

I got nervous when I read that. I thought it said phase 2 was being canceled. Thank the “Great Bird of the Galaxy” that is not the case.

At number 36 good analysis seems logical.

For what ever it is worth I am grateful that CBS allows fans so much freedom to make episodes in the first place.

This post really made me laugh, good stuff
15. Harry Ballz – March 28, 2012


March 29, 2012 12:24 am

41, Anthony Thompson:
“Bummer. I was looking forward to that. Incidentally, the story of that episode proves that Gene Coon was not without faults!”

Not really. He could have written the funniest comedy rewrite in Trek history. All we know is Spinrad didn’t approve because they turned a serious script into a comedy.

Coon knows quality. He himself, was so embarrassed by season 3 and the Fred Freiberger rein as Exec, that he used a pen name, Lee Cronin, from memory.

March 29, 2012 12:45 am

This is very strange, how can spinrads script be considered intellectual copyright when it wasnt even produced, it was rewritten by Gene Coon surely that script is the copyrighted material not this, but ho hum who really knows

March 29, 2012 1:48 am

CBS lurks here? *combs hair and puts on nice shirt*

March 29, 2012 2:00 am

This has to be an absolute joke. Behind all of the polite statements, if I were the P2 guys I’d be fuming at the stupidity of this. CBS aren’t going to do a damn thing with the script. Ridiculous.

If I were you guys I’d still just film it and not tell anyone.