Gene Roddenberry Biopic In The Works

On the centennial of Gene Roddenberry’s birth comes word of a film project based on The Great Bird’s life.

Roddenberry biopic

Deadline Hollywood first reported (later confirmed by Variety) that a biopic about Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is in development at Roddenberry Entertainment. A script has been written by Emmy-winner Adam Mazer (best known for HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack).

The project is being produced by a team that includes Gene’s son, Rod, and his producing partner Trevor Roth. Rod and Trevor also share executive producer credit on all current Paramount+ Star Trek Universe projects, starting with Star Trek: Discovery. In a statement the pair said:

“Gene led a remarkable life. He was an incredibly complex, compelling man, whose work changed the face of television, and whose ideas changed the world. It’s time to share Gene’s story with audiences everywhere.”

Rod Roddenberry

Roddenberry’s life certainly has the makings of a good movie. He was a decorated World War II veteran who flew missions in the South Pacific, became a commercial airline pilot who survived two plane crashes, and was a member of the LAPD. He eventually moved into screenwriting, working on shows like Have Gun – Will Travel, Dr. Kildare, The Virginian, and many others during the heyday of broadcast television. He eventually moved into producing, and in 1966, Star Trek premiered on NBC, eventually becoming one of the most famous television shows in history and turning Roddenberry into a larger-than-life figure. He followed that up with the feature films and eventually returned to television, creating Star Trek: The Next Generation before passing away in 1991.

According to Variety, the producers are currently in search of a director and cast. There are no details available on financing or distribution for the project.

This would not be the first time Rod Roddenberry developed a film about this father. In 2010 he produced the documentary Trek Nation, which explored Gene’s influence on the world. (see trailer below).

Roddenberry’s centennial

Gene’s 100th birthday has been celebrated today by Star Trek and beyond.


Find more news on Star Trek celebrities.

Subscribe
Notify me of
83 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

deepfake tos cast & hunter? Or use Mount, peck,mystique and others.

You mean Rebecca?

Got Vodka?

Let’s hope they show a brutally honest depiction of his life, warts and all.

Yes, it will be interesting if they “sanitize” Gene’s life, or show the True story…

Let’s hope it is clearly described as to what exactly Roddenberry contributed to the creation of Star Trek, as compared to the important contributions of Gene Coon and others…

Take a guess who said this below?

“Gene created a totally new universe. He invented a starship, which works, by the way, and is a logical progression from what we know today. He created customs, morals, modes of speaking, a complete technology. We have a very rigid technology on the show. We know how fast we can go. We know what we use for fuel. We know what our weapons will do. And Gene invented all these things. He did a monumental job of creation. He created an entire galaxy, and an entire rule book for operating within that galaxy, with very specific laws governing behavior, manners, customs, as well as science and technology. Now, that’s a hell of a job. He didn’t create a show. He created a universe, and it works, and it works well. This was a massive, titanic job of creation. One of the most impressive feats of its kind that I’ve ever seen. You can submit our ship or our technology or anything you want to NASA and they will say, “Well, it’s pretty far out, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t work.” Nobody can tell us that it’s scientifically impossible or that it won’t work.”

No idea who said this. If someone at NASA said ‘sure, why not’, it was likely the guy riding the lawn mower. We’re no closer now to FTL drive, practical non-FTL drive, artificial gravity, transporters, force fields, and a whole variety of other tech to make the Starship Enterprise possible then we were fifty years ago.

Well, Einstein, GLC himself said that. :-) That’s how GLC “clearly described as to what exactly Roddenberry contributed to the creation of Star Trek”

Kappish, bubbie? :-)

It’ll be so sanitized you could perform surgery on it.

I really don’t see the point of this kind of product.

Why cast actors to act in the roles as opposed to a documentary?

There is no chance of seeing a balanced depiction of his life or how he worked as a creator or a leader.

So much of his behaviour towards the women he cast was questioned at the time, and would be actionable now.

Even his own son acknowledges that their relationship was not great, and that he really came to understand Roddenberry’s cultural impact from the fans

My heart sank when I saw that the movie was instigated by Rod Roddenberry, since it seems likely he’ll want a sanitized version, and I certainly couldn’t blame him for that.

But part of what makes Roddenberry so interesting is that he was the lead in creating such a wonderful universe, even though he had so very many personal problems and character flaws. Both his strengths and his weaknesses were larger than life, and THAT makes for an interesting main character for a biopic!

That was my thought. I have a hard time believing Gene’s son will give us a warts-and-all portrayal of his father. And that’s a shame, because I’d be curious to see that duality at work.

His son is involved so thats absolutely not going to happen.
And honestly it’s really not any business of the fans to know about the darker aspects of his life unless he’s done things that are illegal or morally undefensible.
And seen as that’s not been the case then you’d want to just remember him for the positive things and the joy he brought to the world. Like creating Star Trek for one.

DataMat, just to be clear, I don’t care what Roddenberry did in his private life. When I hint at his limitations, I’m referring to his creative input in fleshing out Star Trek.
In all fairness, I would credit Roddenberry with 1/3rd of it, with the remaining majority being owed to other people. And yet guess who gets ALL the credit for it.

It’s bizarre to me how a sizable subset of fans keep up this way out of date complaining that Rodenberry “gets ALL the credit for it.” It’s like none of you have read any of the books/bios that have come out in the past twenty years which clearly cover all of his faults and issues. For example, just read The Fifty Year Mission, which paints a pretty negative picture of him in TNG years, as well as his womanizing in his earlier years.

You opinion that everyone gives him all the credit is way out of date, and I’ve noticed you continually bring this topic up. Perhaps it’s time for you to drop all the animosity towards him and move on? Most of us fans know that GLC, Fontana, Jeffries, etc were all part of the team that made Trek great. You should catch up to us by getting caught up on your reading, and drop this mean-spirited, outdated grudge.

Relax, Francis.

I’m just glad I spelled my words correctly unlike poor Datamat, which forced you into your genius backup putdown, “Relax Francis” remark. LOL

Certainly no worries here about you every becoming the Kwisatz Haderach. ;-)

“every becoming”?? Woopsie! :>)

LOL

That’s a silly statement. The darker aspects of his life–the skirt-chasing, the casting couches, the credit-stealing–is all a matter of public record and has been for many years thanks to tell-all autobiographies. These aren’t secrets that need to be withheld.

And seen as that’s not been the case

Did you mean to say “seeing?” If not, then I don’t know what you mean here.

With his son involved? No way. The skirt-chasing, credit-stealing and other bad aspects will be glossed over, I’m sure.

You mean the son of the guy who ripped off Forbidden Planet won’t address the Forbidden Topics??

And Forbidden Planet ripped off Shakespeare’s The Tempest. And Star Wars ripped off Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. And Avatar ripped off Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas. And Marvel ripped off DC. We could go on and on. Not sure what you point is?

“what you point is”? Woopsie 2.0 ! :>)

LOL 2

I thought Cameron read The Mars Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Despite the anti war and environmentalist message it was your standard Burroughs fantasy. Jake Sully is John Carter and Neytiri is Dejah Thoris.

Hadn’t heard that one, but I don’t disagree.

LOL, loved the Robert Picardo tribute to Roddenberry. And I never knew the TOS theme song had lyrics until now. I understand why they kept it instrumental though. ;)

On our way to see TVH in the theater today!! So a nice tie in. I think that was probably the last Star Trek movie he tolerated the most. ;)

Happy 100th birthday Great Bird!

I also went to TVH, and you’re right, super great tribute to Gene!

That’s great to hear! Was your theater full or empty?

Our theater had about 8 people. When you include me and my girlfriend, its 10 lol. But that’s fine, it was great to just see it on the big screen for the first time. I loved that everyone stayed through the credits as well! And my girlfriend is not a big Trek fan to say the least but she does watch some of the movies and shows and TVH is one that she really enjoys. What’s funny is we literally saw it in the same screening we saw “What We Left Behind” 2 years ago.

Since we got there an hour early I waited by finished watching a Voyager episode I started the day before and then rewatched the new Lower Decks episode. I think I have an addiction. ;)

And… it was also recorded by Nichelle Nichols…. https://open.spotify.com/track/4Kz6JGnhwVtoV1IwbNWAt8?si=b4cc9e5763524db3

Wow, interesting! No idea about any of this. Thanks!

“And I never knew the TOS theme song had lyrics until now. I understand why they kept it instrumental though. ;)”

it served its purpose: ka ching!

Yeah, the story, um, doesn’t speak well of Roddenberry.

Gene’s vision? Dollar signs! Money! I didn’t build this ship to usher in a new era for humanity. You think I wanna go to the stars? I don’t even like to fly. I take trains. I built this ship so that I could retire to some tropical island filled with …naked women.

Well played, Phil…. Well. Played.

you make money if you created an iconic show like ST, DW or TZ.

Wow really?? He made the song just to make more money?

Roddenberry was such a conflicting guy. A lot of his Star Trek ideals seem much more limited to the show itself and rarely to his own life lol. But he was still a Hollywood producer first so there you go. ;)

I think it’s the way he went about it. From what I’ve read of Alexander Courage quotes on the subject, Gene basically insinuated or bullied himself into the theme song by telling Courage he was adding lyrics. It was pretty common practice. Sherwood Schwartz made a lot of money with the theme songs to his shows, Gilligan’s Island, Brady Bunch, It’s About Time. Paul Anka wrote the Tonight Show theme, but I’ve seen some instances where Johnny Carson is listed as co-author also. Again, it’s the way it was done. And yes, the lyrics were unnecessary.

A Gene Roddenberry biopic should be interesting. However, there’s so much that he did, I doubt a 2 hour movie would do justice. I’m thinking maybe a miniseries would be cover more.

I just came back from TVH screening and am a little disappointed from the presentation. Its was supposed to be a remastered 4K version but was dark and had virtually no surrounds. The pre-show was interesting but no Nimoy or Shatner interviews. However, the sparse but enthusiastic audience laughed and cheered as if seeing the movie for the first time. :)

I’m looking forward to the IMAX TMP Director’s Edition…

Its the only one of the 4K releases they are doing in Atmos, so i’m looking forward to it. TMP Directors cut. Probably will be a while before it isn’t a streaming exclusive and you can buy the UHD disc though. Its dissapointing the 4K of 1-4 doesn’t have Atmos or even original stereo audio tracks, just Dolby True 7.1.

I’ve felt for years that there should be a movie — maybe even a year-by-year trio of movies — dramatizing the creation and production of the original “Star Trek” TV series.

Will they talk about how he cheated on his wife?

Yeah, that matters in the creation of Trek. Way to keep your eye on the ball.

Well, they didn’t shy away from Johnny Cash’s infidelity in “Walk the Line”…

Uh….in a way, in does matter. Because Majel Barrett was Roddenberry’s girlfriend, he cast her as Number One. Barrett’s casting was one reason the character of Number One was rejected by the network because of her perceived limited skills as an actress, and because the powers that be resented Roddenberry trying to slip his mistress into an important role on the show. A much stronger actress in the part who wasn’t the Executive Producer’s girlfriend might have had a better chance of surviving the purge. Now, I do think Herb Solow (the source for this comment comes from Inside Star Trek) had an axe to grind with Roddenberry. He also tries to make the executives at the time seem more progressive and puritan than they probably were (it was the 1960’s after all – and Roddenberry’s behavior would hardly have been unique in the Producers Club) and I have my doubts that an executive culture that was afraid of Spock’s ears wouldn’t still have had problems with a woman second in command. But I think there’s a good deal of truth to it. And do you think that Nichelle Nichols was being involved with Roddenberry didn’t give her an advantage in casting? Admittedly, there’d never be any biopics if a criteria for making them would be that the subjects were flawless human beings, but I’m not really sure Roddenberry’s story would make for a good film unless he was presented with all of his complexities and contradictions.

It absolutely matters since he cast his mistress in a role in The Cage–a role that the studio demanded he remove. He then cast her as the ship’s computer, Chapel, and Lwaxana. So yes, it’s relevant.

This is awesome news! I love biopics about the key players behind the creation of huge franchises. So far, there are only very few: the creation of Doctor Who got a nice one, Tolkien and Bond creator Ian Fleming… But there are so many more important people and GR is certainly on the top of that list.

I’d also like to see biopics on George Lucas, JK Rowling and of course Stan Lee…

Agreed about Stan Lee, I don’t know if Lucas’s life story was so interesting to warrant a biopic. He was basically a writer/director at the right place in the right time. Besides it would mostly be about Star Wars anyway, and there have been tons of documentaries and stuff about the creation of Star Wars. I don’t think anyone these days would willingly want to touch anything related to JK Rowling because of her supposedly toxic ideas.

Lifetime might do a JK Rowling doc…. they like controversial subjects.

his love of fast cars almost killed him but led to all those fast moving action scenes in his films.
and he almost directed his passion project ‘apocalypse now’ instead of Coppola.

just a few of the interesting things in his career

Lucas was a very talented editor. He was making brilliant documentaries and student films before he directed his first feature film THX 1138. It sad he is simply known as Mr Star Wars. He is a sensitive artist with a lot to say, but all people see is surface level stuff like laser guns and laser swords. He was also multi talented he could as easily have been a photographer he showed skill at this before he entered into USC, he could also have been an illustrator he has a keen sense for visuals.

It was a great loss he gave up directing, but he is doing what he wants. Living the life he wants finally free of the albatross of Star Wars. Let Disney worry about that. Its like THX in the final frame of that film he finally escaped.

So the question is who are they gonna cast as Roddenberry? or Majel Barrett? or the other players? Suggestions are welcome. How about Bruce Greenwood as Roddenberry (Trek connection obvious as he was Pike in the JJ Abrams films) and Lizzy Caplan as Majel Barrett?

There are a few actors in their mid-30s or 40s who could be interesting casting choices for Roddenberry…Ben Affleck, John Krasinski, Tom Hardy etc. I actually think David Harbour would be a great choice due to his height and stature which seem similar to Roddenberry.

Oh I like David Harbour suggestion, didn’t think of him, but makes sense.

Ben Affleck, John Krasinski or Tom Hardy as Gene Roddenberry?? LOL!!! Have you actually seen what Gene Roddenberry looked like???

Bruce Greenwood as Roddenberry? A handsome guy in great physical shape as… Roddenberry? Plus, he’s 20 years older than Gene was when Star Trek was being made.

Gene was ruggedly handsome in his younger days, wasn’t he? Lets hear your suggestions then?

Get JONATHAN FRAKES please to play the Older Gene ( and have a different actor portray the younger Gene, naturally ).

I was kinda thinking that as well…. even if it means losing the beard.

I hope they don’t try to make it scintillating and scandalous like the Bob Ross one coming out. That one feels exploitative!

Roddenberry took the basic premise from Forbidden Planet, made sure the bridge crew had ethnic diversity and made the first officer an alien. That’s about it. My understanding is that Matt Jefferies, Gene Coon and others fleshed out the richness and depth of the Star Trek universe.
Oh, and Roddenberry was famous for wanting NO conflict in the stories. The rest of the staff pointed out that it’s kind of hard to have DRAMA without conflict. Also, the ONE theme Roddenberry was fixated on was always having a GOD-like entity enter the picture whenever possible. He loved lampooning organized religion every chance he got.
That about covers it for his “valuable” contribution. For what he lacked in talent or skill, he made up for by having the tenacity to get the show up and running on a network.

Some of what you are attributing to Roddenberry is accurate but came much later during the development of TNG. Roddenberry didn’t want conflict amongst the crew but certainly wrote stories for Trek that contained plenty of conflict if you look at The Cage/Menagerie or The Omega Glory.

Matt Jeffries and Gene Coon had specific functions…Jeffries was ultimately responsible for the look of the sets and ships. However it was through his collaboration with Roddenberry that we got the Enterprise design that is so iconic. Roddenberry is solely responsible for bringing the first 13 episodes of TOS to the screen but became so burnt out that Gene Coon became the show-runner under Roddenberry’s watchful eye. Roddenberry personally read, commented and often re-wrote many Trek scripts though he pretty much walked away from the show during its third season.

The Forbidden Planet connection is well documented but lets face it, the people who created Forbidden Planet and Trek were World War II vets who used the structure of a military service while downplaying the military aspects and focusing on exploration instead. It was a trope well developed throughout written science fiction before FP or Trek ever appeared.

To say all Roddenberry did was borrow from FP, added ethnic alien/diversity and not much more undercuts what he brought to the show. He wanted a vehicle to comment about society, to discuss religion and politics, war and peace in much the same way that Jonathan Swift used Gulliver’s Travels to comment on the society he lived in. It could have become another monster show like Lost In Space but Roddenberry stuck to his guns and produced something that resonated for decades after the show went off the air.

Pierre, you eloquent bastard, I bow to your intelligent argument! :>)

You’ll likely get little argument that Roddenberry’s work on Trek was groundbreaking, but it is hard to call it visionary as others were also pressing social issues through the television medium at that time. Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone had been at it for a while at that point, and Norman Lear was pitching the first of several of his groundbreaking projects as Trek was approaching the end of it’s run. For these reasons, and some well published personal flaws I can’t quite say it was visionary. Most of what we accept in sci-fi today acknowledges Trek and Roddenberry for its inspiration, and rightly so.

it was one of the first sf shows to take its premise seriously, no ‘flash gordon’ rocket ships, ray guns but a proper constructed future with a plausible maritime based star ship and command structure.

Very true–especially given that many of Roddenberry’s other pilots were pretty weak and failed to launch shows. He wasn’t the visionary genius people make him out to be. Talented? Sure. But also kind of a one-trick pony.

You should read the Cushman books, sourced from memos. Roddenberry insisted the Enterprise look different; named but did not create the Klingons; established Khan’s name and dystopian backstory; sent Spock to Vulcan; created the mind meld; added the scene in Naked Time where Kirk confronts Spock. He certainly wasn’t perfect, but his contribution was essential — and that’s not to minimize such players as Justman, Coon, Black and many others. They all ended up in the hospital overworking themselves during TOS. Roddenberry wasn’t perfect, but he doesn’t deserve all the creative criticism he gets routinely.

The attempts to minimize Gene’s contributions to Trek are incredibly misguided, in my opinion. Regarding the Cushman books, one thing that comes through in all the memos from the first season is how often Gene had to rewrite everyone so that there was some kind of consistency in the format. A great deal of world building happened in the first 13 shows, and those building blocks are still in use today. Should Gene Coon, Dorothy Fontana, and Bob Justman gotten more credit for the show’s overall success? Yes, absolutely. But Trek at its core is very much Gene Roddenberry’s creation.

wonder what gene would have made of ds9?

tony, Gene would have thought his beloved ffranchise had “turned to the dark side”.
(a Star Wars reference to describe Trek?? BLASPHEMY!!)

Forbidden Planet was Shakepeare’s the Tempest reskinned. The closest thing Star Trek has done to Forbidden Planet was the pilot the Cage. The rest of Star Trek isn’t at all like forbidden planet.

Not the story, skyjedi, the flavor of it. Out in deep space, the uniforms, military style, etc…both had hammy Canadian actors as Captain.
(runs and hides)

Don’t call me surely

Whatever the failings on his part;
He wrote science fiction with all of his heart…

Great Bird of the Galaxy or simply “Great Bird” would be a fitting title for the movie

Personally I would hope that it doesn’t paint a 100% rosy picture. Would be better if it were honest. Present the good with the bad. I recall what Walt Disney’s daughter said (her name escapes me at the moment) when she wanted to create a Disney museum. She wanted something to showcase her father “Warts and all”. And it does. And it’s all the better for it.

I’d like a series of books that document the making of the Star trek features. from the Wrath of Khan all the way up to Nemesis. TMP already had a making of even if it is out of print called return to tomorrow. The films that do have making of books aren’t very good, outside of the motion picture and Star Trek VI could use an updated making of.

We need some Rinzler style making of books. RIP JW Rinzler.

Start with a new making of book on the Wrath of Khan i’ve read the one published in the 80s and it isn’t good at all.

The making of first contact while good, was only published in the UK and could use expanding.

The best making of book imo is Trek VI:Charting the Undiscovered Country by Altman/Gross (sort of adapted from the Trek VI Cinefantastique issue). The others with proper ‘making of’ books are TMP, II, V, FC and Insurrection. And as you say there’s the recent TMP tome Return to Tomorrow which is just crazy. I guess ST09 sort of had one too but it was ‘Art Of’ (and there was the Kelvin Trilogy Art of book). And overall there was The Making of the Trek Films (I-VI although not much on TMP or VI as it said to check out making of VI by the same guys and Return to Tomorrow was described as coming soon.. only took about 25years lol. The UK actually had a revised edition including VII and expanded VI) and there was Shatners Movie Memories which is good too

*Opening Scene Narration*
My name is Gene Roddenberry and I came up with a flimsy idea that a franchise was built on. Pass me the booze.”
*End Credits*

This is cool and I look forward to it. The shame of it, though, is that it’s being made by his son. That means it will likely gloss over the less pleasant aspects of Roddenberry and Trek’s genesis.