Friday, September 25, 2009


The first time I met Gene Roddenberry, back in 1967, I thought, "He's a Shark." Then I thought, with great satisfaction, "Just what we need if we want to get good science fiction on television, in an industry filled with sharks and bottom feeders." He had called me in because he had secured the rights to produce a Tarzan movie and he needed an assistant to do research and to write the first draft of the movie's "bible." Gene had a unique idea for his Tarzan movie. Up until then, the producers of the Tarzan movies had kept the stories rooted in the contemporary world, with the most recent feature taking place in the 1960s. Gene wanted to go back to the story's roots and set it around 1915. Although Gene found himself embroiled in studio politics that ultimately derailed the project, his essential no still survived twenty years later at the heart of the next regularly produced Tarzan movie, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan.

But before I tell you about that, I should probably tell you about the first time I worked for him. We never met that time. I just talked to him on the phone. From attending science fiction cons and read the show's record breaking fan mail, Gene had figured out the marketing potential of the show. ST fans would literally buy anything with the words Star Trek on it or in any way related to the show. (By comparison, it was almost twenty years to the day from when ST went off the air at the end of the third season before Paramount licensed the first pair of Spock ears!) Gene was founding a company with Majel Barrett called Lincoln Enterprises to sell whatever ST merchandise he could lay his hands on free or produce at next to no cost. Based on Bjo Trimble's recommendation, some samples of my writing and a phone call, I was hired to write Lincoln Enterprises' first catalog. Thus I wrote the first few thousand lines of the first Star Trek merchandising copy ever.

But before I tell you how my involvement with Star Trek first began, at a West Coast science fiction convention circa 1964, when Gene preview the "Charlie X" episode (it was a first time ever TV preview to a science fiction audience at a convention).

But I see I have run out of time. So I will begin with the latter story in the next edition of the blog.