Next Week: Online Table Read Of ‘The Creator’ – How Gene Roddenberry And Lucille Ball Made ‘Star Trek’

Next week there will be another Star Trek-related virtual event, but this time it isn’t an online convention, but a full cast reading of a new original award-winning script about how the original Star Trek was made by Gene Roddenberry working for Lucille Ball.

‘The Creator’ at DTLA Film Fest – October 21

The DTLA Film Festival, which showcases independent film in Los Angeles, has awarded screenwriter Ben Everhart (Personal Space) the grand prize in their 2020 screenplay contest for his script of The Creator, the story about the unlikely collaboration between Gene Roddenberry and Lucille Ball to create the original Star Trek. The Creator will be produced as a taped-to-live table read, debuting on Wednesday, Oct. 21st, 7:00 pm PST on the DTLA Film Festival Facebook page and YouTube channel. The event is free, but donations to DTLAFF are welcome. You can register for it now at eventbrite.

The virtual table read, directed by Colleen Davie Janes, will feature a cast of 30-plus players. It stars Michael Bakkensen (The Americans) as Gene Roddenberry and Risa Benson (Home Cooked News) as Lucille Ball.

Michael Bakkensen as Gene Roddenberry and Risa Benson as Lucille Ball star in the table read of The Creator

The online production of The Creator will co-star Denver Taylor (Salt-N-Pepa) and Anthony Robert Grasso (Jessica Jones )as Desilu production executives Herb Solow and Oscar Rudin, Shauna Pinkett (Forefathers) as actress Majel Barret, who starred in the Star Trek TV series’ original pilot episode and would later become the second Mrs. Gene Roddenberry, Nick Moss (The Cobblestone Corridor) as both William Shatner and Harlan Ellison, Ken Perlstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!) as Leonard Nimoy, Nihara Nicelle as Nicelle Nichols (Vanished) and Omar Pelaez (Ride The Wave) as Desi Arnaz.

Also co-starring are Derek Anthony (Bosch), Meredith Handerhan (The King of Staten Island), Mara McCann (The Killer In The House), Jared P. Smith (FBI), Jo-anne Lee (Blue Bloods), Elisha Lawson (Blue Bloods), Samarah Conley (Last Vermont Christmas), Jim O’Hare (Bull), Garrett Lee Hendricks (Law & Order: SVU) Phillip James (Decoy) and Chad Anthony Miller (Criminal Minds).

“It’s a huge honor to be selected for DTLA Film Festival’s table read. ‘The Creator’ was a true passion project, and I’m grateful to the festival for this opportunity. Everyone at the festival has been tremendously supportive — and they’re bringing a thoughtful, creative vision to the event. My script is in great hands,” said The Creator screenwriter Everhart in a statement. “Gene Roddenberry created ‘Star Trek’ during the 1960s, in the midst of The Civil Rights movement. He used the show to make a political statement, to champion diversity and positive representation. He was one of the first to cast people of color in leadership roles and embrace storytelling with racial, political and philosophic themes,” said Everhart.

“The relevance of this story to the racial and political reckoning now happening in America really resonated with our programming team. It’s also a fascinating look at how one of the most unlikely collaborations in the history of Hollywood resulted in one of its most beloved franchises. Ben’s screenplay is extremely well-written, bringing to life the characters of Gene Roddenberry and Lucille Ball in an engaging and authentic way,” said Karolyne Sosa, DTLAFF’s director of programming.

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A parallel story of Roddenberry developing Star Trek and Ball running Desilu could potentially be fascinating. But it couldn’t have Star Trek be the focal point while giving both figures equal weight, because Ball’s input as to Star Trek was minuscule. So either this script is ahistorical, or the synopsis isn’t accurately describing the project. I look forward to learning further clarification.

That threw me as well. Despite Roddenberry’s dishonest claims in the 1970s, it later came out from Herb Solow that Gene didn’t even know Lucy and that she had pretty much no understanding of what the show was about–she’d been led to believe the show would be about Hollywood stars on a cruise! Her only active involvement with the show came down to nodding at the Board to renew it when the Board had voted to cancel it after the second pilot. That’s about it. Gene wasn’t even at that meeting since he was just a contract employee who had no ownership of the show. In fact, she very nearly fired Roddenberry for having an extramarital affair with Majel, because Lucy believed strongly in her employees having moral fiber, and she was furious when he secretly added her back to the cast as Chapel in a blonde wig, against Lucy’s wishes. So I can’t imagine how this play could be anything but fictional.

LOL, I didn’t know ANY of this. It’s hilarious as shit reading it. ALL this time I was under the impression she really loved the show and because she fought so hard to keep it is why it stayed on. I also thought her and Roddenberry were kind of like partners over it, she just more the silent one. Sometimes the myth is better than the reality I guess. ;)

That’s what Gene wanted people to believe, yeah, but Solow admitted it was all a lie. They didn’t even know each other and she had to be convinced not to fire him.

Hi, I’m the screenwriter behind this project. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify some things! Please see my comment above. I’m clear in the script that Lucy was the financier of Trek but not a creative participant. Everything you’re talking about here is dramatized within the story: the extramarital affair with Majel, Lucy’s belief that Trek was about celebrities on a USO tour, the board meetings. I did everything I could to make it as historically accurate as possible because the truth is actually an incredible story that deserves to be told honestly.

That is fantastic news, Ben. Thanks for chiming in! I look forward to it.

I wouldn’t judge Lucy badly here: She herself had come up through Hollywood and almost certainly knew (perhaps firsthand) what goes on there, with casting couches and so on. (Both in Lucy’s day, in the 30’s and 40’s, in the 60’s- remember that Grace Lee Whitney claimed that one of Star Trek’s producers literally raped- and then fired- her, and sadly until today.) As the first woman to head a major studio, perhaps she had decided that such things would not go on under her, and the best way to do that was to strictly enforce that producers keep themselves, um, under control. So when she saw that Roddenberry was having an affair with someone he’d cast *twice*, naturally her antenna would have gone up.*

I in no way mean to imply that such a thing was *actually* going on between Roddenberry and Barrett. If nothing else, we have the obvious fact that they remained together, got married a few years later, and remained married until Gene’s death. And maybe they explained that to Lucy and that’s why she didn’t fire him. But I can’t really blame her for worrying, and perhaps it’s something commendable on a few levels.

(*That’s a joke. There’s an old story about Lucy caught a Japanese spy during World War II thanks to her dental fillings picking up his radio signals. :-) )

So the story that she once picked up a broom and swept the dolly track on the Trek set himself- not true?

Read These are the Voyages, Vol 1. She didn’t know in the beginning, but before she had to put up the money for the pilot, she was told exactly what Star Trek was about. Against the recommendation of her own execs, who told her Trek and Mission Impossible could bankrupt Desilu, she approved both shows. No Lucy. No Star Trek.

I have read it. The book is incorrect on some points, and this is one of them. Herb Solow has made it clear that Gene made up a lot of the story, just as he made up a lot of other things, such as the mystique of “Wagon Train to the Stars.” She greenlighted the show, yes, but she had no other involvement, other than very nearly firing Gene for cheating on his wife. I can’t imagine how they’re getting a whole play out of her having attended a Board meeting–without Gene present, mind you–at which she nodded approval to the Board to keep the show going. There’s not much of a story there. She wasn’t in any way involved with Star Trek, other than that head nod.

Yeah this lines up with my understanding as well. It’s long since past time we acknowledged that Roddenberry was in some ways a Trumpian figure – self aggrandizing and deeply flawed, known to bend the truth in service of his own mythmaking. It’s also true that Gene’s vision would’ve been nothing without the people who contributed to it. So while you have to laud the man for what he tried to create, he was merely the prime mover of a concept that others made great.

Still, it’s really cool that the ‘story’ of Lucy and Star Trek is being told in this way, and while it will be pure fiction, it’s still in service of the larger idea of what Star Trek is supposed to be about, which is people fighting to bring a vision of a bright future to the masses. In that respect, it’s a story worth telling, as long as we recognize it is nothing more than that.

How reliable a source is Herb Solow? He has his own reputation for embellishing and lying about history.

Made up what? The book is sourced from memos. She had to approve the funding for the show during a time of financial stress for Desilu. Lucy was head of Desilu. And what does Gene Roddenberry have to do with her decision? Anybody who wants to know what happened should research and not accept hearsay sources.

You have to take Solow with a grain of salt too. He would have us believe that the NBC he worked for and later, with, was free of overt and systemic racism and misogyny.

I’ve always known what a fantasy that was that he pedalled. And now, the rest of the world does too. Roddenberry wasn’t perfect but the truth dulls the pin Solow tried to stick on him.

Hi, folks! I’m the screenwriter behind this project. Thank you for your interest! Yes, this is a parallel story about Roddenberry developing ‘Star Trek’ while Lucille Ball is running Desilu. Remember when she assumed control of the company from Desi Arnaz, she became the first female head of a major Hollywood production company. That in itself is a great story! But with Trek as one of its flagship endeavors under her control, I knew this was a story I HAD to tell.

I extended a great deal of effort to make the project historically accurate. While no project can be 100% I really, really did everything I could to stay true to the spirit of what happened.

Thanks for your input and ‘leveling’ here Ben. I have read every book and story released that I could get my hands on from all involved in TOS. I’ve always wondered about the real Desilu side of the story since all involved in Star Trek seem to have different recollections and stories to tell. I will be eagerly awaiting the story read! :)

Interesting story and I would love to see this screenplay fully filmed sometime. Although since it is a table read I am wondering why they couldn’t get Shatner to play himself.

I can tell you: MONEY

Interesting story… George Lucas because I want to say that. Who will play Gene. Needs to be further digging into.

Who will play Gene.

It says right in the article: It stars Michael Bakkensen (The Americans) as Gene Roddenberry.

People rarely read articles before replying to them. They just like to hear themselves speak, even when they’re uninformed.

Lucille Ball’s head looks massive in the thumbnail.

Afaik Lucille Ball had absolutely no idea what Star Trek really was and needed to be convinced by her board to make this investment. If anything you could praise her for keeping a rather hands-off approach to it (even if other suits didn’t).

It is amazing how unknown Lucille Ball is in my part of the world. I belive she is not recognized in whole Europe. I know that there was a show called “I love Lucy” but that^s about it. I don’t think it ever aired here. Yet she seems to have an strong impact on Americans.

LOL! Lucy was HUGELY popular in Europe.

Yeah, really?!? I bet Herb Solow wrote that in a book. lol

That was a funny reply, I’ll give you that. :) But it’s true. I grew up in Europe and I often saw her shows. She’s extremely popular worldwide.

I take your word for it then. I don’t know how exactly popular she is in other European countries, but what I wanted to express was, that I wish she were better known in my home country. :)

Lucille Ball is one of the most successful comedians of all time.

Lol what, no she wasn’t.

For Creator’s sake, you could have got the Kirk cover photo correct rather than a reversed image!

The relevance of this story to the racial and political reckoning now happening in America”

What reckoning would that be then?

the unlikely collaboration between Gene Roddenberry and Lucille Ball to create the original Star Trek”

Lucille Ball’s daughter is married to Laurence Luckinbill (Sybok).