Star Trek Interview From 1976

Just showed up on YouTube: In 1976 the Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder dedicated an entire show to Star Trek – includes interviews with James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig, Harlan Ellison and (con organizer) Al Shuster. (in 5 parts)

other parts below

Part 2 –

Part 3 – Discusses TMP

Part 4 – Ellison really goes off

Part 5 – Ellison continues rant (sorry forgot this part)

with thanks to youtuber videoholic2007

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Man, I haven’t seen ‘Tomorrow’ in years …

It was odd that they put ‘1776’ on the Enterprise. Some sort of Bicentennial commemoration? Pretty strange, if so.

I find it interesting when Deforrest Kelly suggests that the film could have them “find Christ and discover that he’s actually Lucifer”. Is it from that simple throwaway remark that Shatner got the idea for the abomination known as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

Holy Cow! I vividly remember begging to stay up and watch this when it was on in my prehistoric, pre-vcr youth, and here it is in all its You Tube glory. What a blast from the past — thanks for posting these links!

It’s fascinating how both Doohan and Koenig look a little scruffy, but Kelly, gawd love him, looks like a million bucks! What a class act!!

Lord, the cigarette smoke!
And they all look so young there, barely older than the run of TOS.
I also love the rough camera work on Snyder’s show. Ha. I’m in TV and I know how common that was before robo-cam.

As interesting as this was and is….its so one sided. Its like going to a pizza parlor and only being able to get or receive pepperoni. Too bad Tom Synder – NBC didn’t make the effort
to get at least part of the rest of the cast for their own unique viewpoint as it was. Oh well!

great interview…i love how their smoking. RIP DeForest Kelley

Hacking and coughing along with smoking. Great to see this again.

The 70’s. Tom’s hair, yikes! The clothes. And that gawdawful blocky NBC logo that replaced the peacock. DeForest Kelley looked great though, even his hair!

That was fun….
Part five is around too hopefully the following link will get you to it


Part 5’s my favorite, when Doohan looks like he’s wants to bitch-slap Ellison. “Cop show?! It’s not a cop show!”

De Kelley – pure class!

Harlan Ellison was such a downer, but he’s right that his original story for “City on the Edge of Forever” didn’t have Scotty selling drugs, as Gene Roddenberry allegedly alleged.

Ellison completely ruined that interview. He basically was a wet blanket over the proceedings. However, Ellison did mention how up in the air ST:TMP was at that point with the script. A problem that plagued it even during filming and post production.

Doohan predicted “Many more movies would be made” and that TOS would endure for many many years. He was dead on.

1776? If you lived through 1976, you might remember anything that stayed still long enough had “1776” on it, or at least ’76, so putting 1776 instead of 1701 was a fairly normal state of mind then.

I saw this live.

How cool to see these interviews again. All three of the Trek originals a very
class act indeed. Harlan Ellison is a fine writer but he is a very arrogant SOB.
I attended the first Fim Con 1 over the Thanksgiving weekend in 1972. Here
I was at the Ambassador Hotel in LA and had round table discussions
with writers, actors, and film producers. It was like nothing I’d done before.
One of the highlights was to be a speech given by Mr. Ellison. It started out
OK then Harlen went into a rant about how “Star Trek” fans were destroying
sci-fi in general and they should all be banished to a netherworld of darkness. I stood during a question and answers session and informed him
with all the courage I could muster that the same people who watch “Star Trek” buy his books and he should not be too quick to judge these people, and that he was shooting himself in the foot. More rants followed I
and about 30 others walked out on him. Not a huge protest but a statement was made. In 35 years Ellison has never changed. He is
still a good writer and a very egotistical bastard.

i liked doohan. i liked how he graciously expressed the joy of being part of a “classic”, and he was so right: his great grandchildren *will* be watching the show, and it is just as good now as it was then. bang on, correct. he seemed pleased to predict several future films, and he was right about that too. but think of this: he couldn’t have predicted that in 10 yrs he’d get some laughs by talking into a computer mouse, because there weren’t any of those yet!

Harlan Ellison is one of the most overrated writers in the industry. Seems to me that he is praised while being a mediocre writer. ;-) Maybe he oughta write cop shows/novels! ;-) ;-) Time for someone to bash me, I know. City On The Edge Of Forever isn’t a bad episode, but I generally think it is a bit overrated…AND…in it’s original form written by Ellison, it would never have been as highly thought of as the version that is “out there.” Harlan is an arrogant person and still acts that way today. I know someone who is friends with him and even HE says that about ol’ Harl.

Harlan Ellison, what a joke! It’s almost understandable if someone is arrogant, but has the talent or genius to back it up. It’s irritating, in the extreme, if it comes from a HACK like Ellison. He is highly overrated as a writer! It’s too late to tell him to PISS OFF, as he’s already had a full career at other people’s expense! All we can hope is that he drops dead real soon and stops being a boil on humanity’s ass!

All three actors where class… acts all the way! Ellison was a total jackass. What a jerk. I’m glad Walter got the last word in at the end of the show about Trek. And he was right. Star Trek is the best sci-fi television show ever made.

I think Ellison was a writer very much of his time, and made the impact he did because his stories dealing with machine intelligence coincided with the advent of computers in everyday life. But I’ve read a couple of his short story collections and haven’t found much about them that was too memorable.

If he hadn’t written what many consider to be the best episode of Star Trek, how many people would know his name? He made quite a career out of bashing Trek while reaping the benefits of association with it. While he has undeniable skill as a writer, he has perhaps more as a self-promoter.

What a great thing to see. At one point Doohan seems to want to strangle Ellison. Damn NBC’s ignorant execs for so shortsightedly not putting Star Trek in a better time slot and then canceling TV’s best Sci-Fi.

I think everyone is taking Ellison far too seriously. He makes some very good points.

Star Trek (not just TOS, but all variations) didn’t really rise to their full potential.

The Motion Picture, despite having a rocky development, did challenge the viewer…it tried…and in some ways failed, but I have grown to consider it my favorite. Beginning with ST:2, the movies started sliding into mediocrity…when I watch The Undiscovered Country these days, I have trouble believing it’s the same Star Trek I watched on television as a child. Don’t even get me started on the Next Gen movies…gah.

Harlan may come across as an ass, but if you lower your shields and just listen to the man…you’ll see that what he’s saying is quite valid.

I loved watching that—thanks for posting it.

They were all great guys. However, Jimmy Doohan was *the man*.

Harlan Ellison is a piece of human cholestrol clogging up the arteries of life!

Koenig always comes across as jaded as well. For that I was/am very dissapointed. I met him once at a convention in about ’89 or so. At that time he was showing the audience just how disinterested he was in being there. Here we were all enamored to have an actor in town from our favortie show in town, & he was just there for the check. That was a major life lesson that wiped away my rose colored glasses re: who chekov really was like.

Doohan on the other hand was fantastic. When I met him, he actually seemed interested to be there. He answered everyone’s questions in detail. Plus he made sure everyone that wanted one got an autograph, as well as personal time to speak with him. Man he was the best! He never let me down. R.I.P. Jimmy.

Gawd…I still remember watching the show (my senior year in high school), and Jimmy’s joke about the rationale for no bathrooms showing up either in the show or in the Franz Joseph Designs blueprints.

27# Michael Appleton:
You told them. Harlan Ellison is not your favorite person!
Calling Star Trek V an abomination is a bit overreaching. Flawed, yes, in many parts, but there are those of us who draw strength from the mystical, Godward parts of the film. We need the inspiration, believe me!
Thanks so much for posting these videos. I watched late night programming on NBC for many years as a kid. Shows like Tommorrow made it cool to stay up, before the advent of syndicated informercials and other late night junk.

A message to everyone who thinks that Harlan Ellison “ruined” this 1976 interview (especially YOU Michael Appleton, T Negative and Cafe 5 )…you don’t know him, you don’t understand him, you’ve probably NEVER read or understood ANY of his works. You probably ONLY “know” him as a writer of a Star Trek episode or as some sort of “sci-fi writer.

I sat up and watched this interview back in 1976 and was enourmously entertained because I know exactly what he was talking about, the tenor of the times and mentality of what television executives then.

Egotistical he may be…but he has the moxy, talent and guts to back up anything he says. When he spoke, he was speaking the unvarnished truth about television and Star Trek. And he was goddamed funny as well.

Videoholic 2007, you should be ashamed for putting up that caption (sorry about this part). I mean really, it’s insulting; you’re putting a value judgement on Harlan’s remarks… We’re not three year olds here and I think people can see and hear the show and make up their own minds without the caption. Do us all a favor and remove it.

But on the other hand I enjoyed seeing this Tomorrow show again. Thank you very much.

Chris M. Barkley

What was Ellison even doing there? Technically he didn’t even write ONE episode and he admitted he was fired from the movie. I like how insults Rock and Roll as if its pop culture dreck. That’s the most insulting part.

I don’t think Harlan Ellison “ruined” this 1976 interview at all. I found him to be quite entertaining. I also found him to be a loud mouth egotistical jerk, but entertaining non the less. I’m sure he was invited on the show to stir things up, and he didn’t disappoint in that regard. I’m glad Doohan was there to ‘grumble’ his opinion. Jimmy really is the Man. I half expected hin to get up and grab Ellison by the shirt… hahaha… I would have paid to have seen that! :)

It’s interesting to note that Gene Rodenberry was scheduled to be on the show, but cancelled due to feeling sick at the last minute. I wonder if that had anything to do with Harlan being on the show?

I could watch hours of this stuff!!! What a wonderful treat, but unfortunately many people here are so quick to judge and not abide by the principles that Gene R was attempting to enstile upon us all…everyone has their own opinion. These “people” as much as we want them to be as enthusiastic about Star Trek as I am or we are, were at the time doing their job. They acted on a TV show. It was the chemistry between these amazing talents that was the magic that made Star Trek…then and now. Harlen has his own opinion, and could have been arguing for MORE ethics and MORE meaning behind the characters and story plots. Not a fan of his work, but consider his points for a moment…

I must add that Jimmy and De Forest were a delight to watch and listen to and may the both venture into the Undiscovered Country with God’s Spead!

Thanx for the memories…I remember staying up late as a kid and wishing Ellison would just shut up and go away so I could hear the cast of Star Trek speak. I kept looking at the clock and hearing him eat into their precious time. Now, after seeing it as an “adult”…I to, found the word play between the “egotistical jerk” and the cast members quite entertaining! Although it would have been great if someone had pick up a chair and gone Geraldo on his ass…

Great to see that episode, wanted to see it for years.
Agree about Harlan being a wet blanket, reminds me Gary Coles character in Talladega Nights at the Applebees!

This footage has been kicking around the convention circuit for decades and I asked Jimmy Doohan about it in the late 80’s. He said that Ellison was invited because Roddenberry called off due to illness. Snyder and Ellison had done many shows together and they liked each other, or at least Snyder liked how Ellison would name names and make slow shows interesting.

This was a monumental show for Trek fandom, and unless you were around back then it’s hard to relate how little information was available about Trek to the general public. There was no internet and apart from the conventions, which were held once a year in large cities, there was nothing going on except for fanzines. Seeing these guys in an interview setting was unheard of and to this day people still talk about this show.

Al Shuster was a big name in the con world at the time and he was the chair of the 1st convention in NYC in 72. He was part of the “Committee” cons which also included Joan Winston, and which she wrote a book about. I’ve often wondered what happened to him, he seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.

2 more things, 1. I really miss Jimmy Doohan and De Kelley, and 2. F*ck Harlan Ellison! elitist prig

Great stuff. Although Koenig comes over as a bit of a buzz kill every time he opens his mouth.

#27-I think maybe you are going a tad overboard…BUT…here’s my “dream interview segment” from 1976. Harlan keeps shooting off his mouth and when he gets to the “cop show” part…Jimmy says, “laddie, don’t ya think ya should, rephrase that?”

The rest, as they say, would be history. Heck, even Walter is there to try to gut punch Harlan! LOL

#35 I remember having the exact same reaction during the broadcast! “Please somebody, tell him to stop talking, cut to McCoy, Scotty anybody!!” In retrospect he certainly did enliven things though…

And 28, I’ve had the same reaction to Koenig. He seems to be a very smart guy, but came across as if the whole “con” experience and those in attendance were beneath him. Of course this is quite a few years ago now, and considering he’s now appearing in fan films, maybes he’s mellowed.

Maybe ST:V was hatched from DeForest Kelly’s germ of an idea. Either way, TFF was in no way great cinema, but it was Star Trek in all of its Good, Bad and Ugly glory. People who clammer for Shatner as the “Savior of all Trek” past and future, need only remember this was his baby, despite not having Rock creatures and dwarf minions running around.

STXI: The Search for Proust. Lord, I hope not! Harlan Ellison is a cool writer and Science Fiction’s Angry (formerly) Young Man. But, I think Koenig is right, TV and good novels are Apples and Oranges. If you want to compare “thinking” sci-fi, watch 2001: A Space Odyssey one more time, then read the novelization Arthur C. Clarke did of the movie he “got stuck” on for four years. It’s like they’re not even connected.

Great post. Much better than arguing over whether Shatner will appear in the new movie or not.

Chris, I too am old enough that I stayed up late and saw the original broadcast of this show. I remember the “climate” of the times and have taken that into account. I still think Ellison was a pompous windbag and wish he hadn’t been on the show, so that we could have had more time listening to the cast. Ellison not only didn’t give credit to Star Trek being the groundbreaking show that it was for it’s time, but actually declared it to be “mediocre”. Outrageous!!

# 37 You are so right. At that time we were so starved for any information, and not much was out there. Any chance to see the actors on anything about anything was a pleasant experience. I remember as a youth calling out “there’s such and such” when I would see a rare appearance of any of the cast members on a TV show or in a film. Remember such awful films as “The Devil’s Rain” or “Night of The Lepus”?…Poor Shatner and DeForest, but I guess they had to put food on the table.

This has perhaps my favorite Ellison quote, I’m paraphrasing: “Star Trek fans are inherently non discriminating.”… which I thought was very prescient. Of course so are Ellison fans… so I guess it’s all even. Ellison is responsible for writing the screenplay for perhaps the best “worst” film ever made… a little stinking gem called “The Oscar”. I went to a screening of this where Harlan was doing a Q and A and laughed hysterically at the non-intended comedy. Harlan was notably miffed at the reception of this stinker, and did a lot of soapbox backpedaling. Nice to see the mighty get taken down a peg or two.

Back to the topic… I’ve had a tape of this show for years… always like to see it as it reminds me of the “before time” when I was a little boy and loved Star Trek more than anything… hmmm… come to think of it, not all that much has changed. lol

Happy 30th Birthday, Star Wars… from your big brother, Trek.

46 — One Lepus would be food for a month! HA. Yes, I remember both those movies.
I vaguely remember this interview when it came out. Snyder was on at 130am after all. I also remember another interview show (I think it was also Snyder, but I’m not sure) in which Shatner and Nimoy plus TWOK. Nimoy makes fun of Shatner’s pronunciation… saying he’s gonna be in a movie called “The Roth of Can.”
Anybody got that clip?

There was another show w/ Snyder, Jimmy, and Harlon I saw. They got into the story behind “The City on the Edge of Forever”. A lot a screaming and hollowing. I have not seen it in years, waiting for this person to post THAT SHOW!
I also remember how Dan Ackrod would impersonate Snyder on SNL.

Great to see that interview, thanks for the posting of it. I too was old enough to have seen this at the time, but I didn’t know about it! I remember the bicentenial year of course! Not much to add to what has been said of this interview. But it reminds me too of the times, no internet or means to get news other then this and the fanzines, Starlog just coming out then too.

re: post#48- the interview you refer to is from the Mike Douglas show. I remember that clearly. Shatner, Nimoy, Deforest, Bibi Besch, I think Montalban too and Bob Salin in the audience. It was great, clips from TWOK too. I did tape it, but I am not sure where it is!