Space: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship, Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek
Any Trekkie would instantly recognize these opening remarks to Star Trek. The franchise has its own culture and niche in society, thanks to the genius behind the brand, Gene Roddenberry. But what has become of Roddenberry in his later years? Let’s find out where he went and if he’s gone to where no other man has gone before.
Paramount created fake scripts when the initial Star Trek II script was leaked to fans. They soon discovered that Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek franchise, did it to incite protest among his fans for plots he did not like.
Who was Gene Roddenberry?
Gene Roddenberry was born on August 19, 1921, in El Paso, Texas. He spent his youth in Los Angeles, studied three years to become a policeman, and then switched his academic focus to aeronautical engineering and earned a pilot’s license. By 1941, he joined the United States Army Air Corps and was ordered into training as a flying cadet when the United States entered World War II.
Roddenberry was assigned to the South Pacific as a Second Lieutenant after graduating from Kelly Field, Texas. He started combat at Guadalcanal, flying B-17 bombers out of the freshly captured Japanese runway, Henderson Field. He flew flights against Bougainville’s enemy strongholds and took part in the Munda invasion. He participated in about 89 missions and sorties in all. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his service. (Source: Star Trek)
How Did Roddenberry Get into Hollywood?
Roddenberry then returned to the United States and continued flying until he saw television for the first time. Correctly predicting the future of television, he saw that the new medium would require writers and predicted that Hollywood’s film studios would quickly dominate the new business.
He promptly took action, abandoning his flying career and moving to Hollywood, only to discover that the television business was still in its infancy, with limited opportunities for new writers. He joined the Los Angeles Police Department on a friend’s recommendation, following his father’s footsteps and acquiring necessary experience as a writer.
Roddenberry was selling scripts by the time he reached the rank of sergeant. After establishing himself as a writer, he surrendered his badge and began working as a freelancer.
Roddenberry created Star Trek in 1966. Once on the air, Star Trek gained a devoted following and became the first television series to have an episode saved in the Smithsonian, where an 11-foot model of the USS Enterprise is on display.
Roddenberry was a member of the Executive Council of the Writers Guild of America and a Governor of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Gene Roddenberry died on October 24, 1991. (Source: Star Trek)
Paramount’s Clever Solution
Roddenberry’s role as executive producer on Star Trek: The Motion Picture was detrimental to Paramount executives. To make the sequel on a strict budget, Paramount recruited Harve Bennett to replace Roddenberry.
Paramount could not ask Gene Roddenberry to retire. The fan reaction would be harsh, and the press would be wrong. The “executive consultant” position was created, implying that Roddenberry had significant input on the writing and production process. But it was only a title.
The draft for Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan enraged Roddenberry. He claimed that Bennett militarized Star Trek. Bennett had to remind Roddenberry that his original creation was a military organization. Roddenberry vehemently resented Spock’s demise. Star Trek would die, he claimed. (Source: StarTrekdom)
During Bennett’s efforts to appease Roddenberry, word of Spock’s death leaked to the public, causing outrage among Star Trek fans worldwide. Nobody knew for sure, but many assumed Roddenberry released the script to the fans. He used underhanded tactics while still collecting his paychecks.
Paramount wrote various scripts. Each script included a unique code for each recipient. The leaked script had Roddenberry code. Roddenberry was not confronted directly nor was charged legally, but it was enough to stop the leak. (Source: Cinema Blend)