It was a feel-good story when a copy of Norman Spinrad’s long-lost Star Trek script “He Walked Among Us” surfaced at a convention last fall and the web series Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II picked it up for production.
But now we know the “S” in CBS stands for “Scrooge” because they’ve blocked the use of the script, according to a story in the New York Times:
“We fully appreciate and respect the passion and creativity of the ‘Star Trek’ fan and creative communities,” CBS said in a statement. “This is simply a case of protecting our copyrighted material and the situation has been amicably resolved.”
By all indications CBS is within its rights. In the entertainment industry the paid writer of a teleplay generally cedes the rights to the material, even if it remains unproduced.
Note, this script is a completely different text from Sprinrad’s novel of the same name.
Not only is the network’s action disappointing, its lack of consistency is mystifying. David Gerrold directed his own unproduced ST:TNG script “Blood and Fire” for Phase II without objections. When questioned by the Times —
Mr. Gerrold predicted a Trekkie backlash. “‘Star Trek’ fans,” he said, “are not a sleeping dragon that you want to poke.”
(I always get a kick out of the Times’ formality, calling people Mister. Apart from Jerry Pournelle’s steadfast example of referring to “Mister Heinlein,” it’s not what fans are used to. We go to the other extreme, familiarly addressing David or Harlan or Connie by their first names. Sometimes even at first meeting, as if they ought to know us.)
[Thanks to The Crotchety Old Fan for the story.]