Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gene Roddenberry Interview From 1976 has posted an audio interview with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry from 1976. This interview pre-dates all the Star Trek movies and apparently occurred when Roddenberry was working on a possible Star Trek movie, that later became plans for Star Trek: Phase II which then became a movie again.

In the interview, he discusses the development of several characters especially Kirk, Star Trek merchandising and also the return of the franchise. More importantly he discussed plans that seem like an echo of JJ Abrams Star Trek XI plans where the movie might focus on the early days of the Enterprise crew and how they came together.

The information isn't really related to the new Star Trek movie but a nice walk down memory lane for long time fans. You can find the 3 part audio interview here at the bottom of the page. (source)

Part 1 Highlights:
- Name change progressing for the captains April > Winter > Pike > Kirk
- The change to Kirk was mostly because the studio wanted a stronger name.
- Studio didn't like the name "Star Trek" either but couldn't come up with anything better.
- Trying to create recognizable types - the family doctor, the leader, etc so that people would feel familiar with them.
- The evolution of Number One (from the Cage) to Spock evolved because easier to simply combine the roles since Number One was Vulcan like in behavior (well what would become Vulcan characteristics). Also the studio didn't think it was a good idea to have the second in command a woman.
- Matt Jeffries was chosen as art director because he was practical and would design things that seem would work.
- Took 5 plus months for him to design the Enterprise. Roddenberry didn't know exactly what he wanted for the ship but eventually though in the sketches he started seeing bits and pieces he did want that eventually evolved into the famed Enterprise shape.

Part 2 Highlights:
- The Transporter was created as "product of necessity" since didn't have the budget to show the Enterprise or craft landing every episode. Also it allowed them to quickly get into the story "on page 2."
- Didn't start using the Shuttlecraft until episode 8 simply because didn't have the money yet to build it.
- Romulans because wanted a fierce offshoot race of the Vulcans. Klingons where created so could have handy villains. Roddenberry thought they where a little "to villainous and evil" but never got around to providing a better mix of good and evil. The goal probably fueled the characterization of Klingons in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Most of the original sets where given away or burned. Apparently much was kept though as an auction from a few years ago sold many items for the TOS era.
- Large "Hero" version of the Enterprise was stored in a basement, Roddenberry wasn't sure how ended up down there. The Smithsonian wanted it for the National Aerospace Museum (which opened the year before the interview) and they restored it. He recognized that the use of the Enterprise wasn't a celebration of the show but because "the word usually becomes before the deed."

Part 3 Highlights:
- The naming of the NASA prototype to the Enterprise woke up Paramount to the fan support that show had. This in turn led to a decision to do a Star Trek movie. At time of the interview wanted to start shooting the movie in February '77 for Christmas release in '78. Of course with Star Wars coming out that year and the phenomenon it caused, that may have what led to tossing movie plans, going forward with a new TV series Star Trek: Phase II before going back to a movie for 1979 release.
- Bob Newhart apparently wanted to be in the movie and Roddenberry was entertaining the idea. Course it never happened.
- Roddenberry was thinking the movie could tell the story of how "all the Enterprise crew came together for first time years ago but we are all 7 years older now and that might become such a huge makeup problem that make it impossible." Looks like JJ Abrams Star Trek XI might have been Roddenberry approved.
- The other movie idea was "the five year missions is ended or has ended, and for some reason some emergency, the entire old crew has to be put together again in a rebuilt and more powerful Enterprise to go out and do battle with whatever emergency that occurred." This clearly was the foundation for the first movie.
- A new Enterprise was rebuilt (for the movie) for practical reasons since the original model and bridge was built on the cheap and didn't have the detail needed for the movie screen.

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