Archive for the ‘"Star Trek: The Next Generation"’ Category

Celebrating Gene Roddenberry’s Legacy on his 90th Birthday

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Today marks what would have been  Gene Roddenberry’s 90th birthday. Best-known as the creator and executive producer of Star Trek, Roddenberry was born in El Paso, Texas on August 19, 1921 and grew up in Los Angeles. He became a Los Angeles police officer, but quickly transitioned to TV as a technical advisor to Frederick Ziv on Mr. District Attorney (1954) and later became a headwriter for Ziv on The West Point Story (CBS, 1956-57 and ABC, 1957-58). He eventually created his first original series The Lieutenant (NBC, 1963-64) which examined social questions of the day in a military setting. Coincidentally, the show featured guest performances by actors who later played a large role in Star TrekNichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, and Majel Barrett (who later became his wife). He first pitched Star Trek in 1964, and finally found support from Desilu Studios. The series premiered on September 8, 1966 and has been part of American pop culture ever since.

Although Roddenberry passed away in 1991, before the Archive was established, many of his colleagues spoke about him in their own interviews. Here are some excerpts:

Robert Justman (Producer)

Working with Gene Roddenberry, very often it was a lot of fun. He had great intellect.  This was someone who came from a very poor background and made himself what he was.  He was driven, but he had an enormously pleasing personality. Everyone liked him, and yet they knew he was the boss.  Which he was. His door was, was usually open to me, it was always open to me in the beginning.  But then eventually, because he was rewriting himself, and in those days, it was slow going, he had a buzzer placed in the rug, so that I couldn’t walk in on him, and the door would remain closed. One afternoon while the secretary went to lunch, I took a look around  and discovered the button that she pushes to do the buzzer to open the door. I then pressed the buzzer and waltzed into Gene’s office which was a very, very long office, it was made out of two offices and it was quite long and it had the door where you came in, in the front, and there was an escape hatch in the rear where you could exit onto the studio street.   I entered the room when I wasn’t supposed to, and Gene was writing away with a No. 2 pencil on some legal pad in haste to correct everything.  I walked in and I walked past him not really looking at him, and I walked to the end of the room, opened the escape hatch and left. [he laughs] Just to show him that he couldn’t shut me out!

Dorothy C. (DC) Fontana (Writer)

Star Trek lives. I don’t know why people keep coming back to it, but I have had so many people, whether they’re in my business, or whether they are outside, civilians if you will, coming in to say, “you know, Star Trek still talks to me.  But I like the original series.”  They always come back to the original series.  That’s the one that Gene was the most hand- on with.  He had hands on it for the first two seasons of Star Trek, which are the episodes that people remember most.  I just think that we were talking to an audience that was listening.  We weren’t just there for eye-candy.  We were there to entertain, but we weren’t just there to entertain.  We were trying to talk to them.  We were trying to tell intelligent stories with good actors and good messages and I think we succeeded.  The goal on any show is to tell the best stories you can.  I think we succeeded admirably, especially in the first two seasons of Star Trek.

George Takei (Actor) reminisces about working with Roddenberry and his vision for the series in this video clip:

For more “Star Trek” stories, visit

10 things you may not know about “Star Trek”

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

The Archive of American Television has interviewed many actors, visual effects artists, directors, stuntmen, writers, and others involved in the production of NBC’s Star Trek (1966-1969) as well as its spin-offs. Below are a few gems from the archive’s collection featuring stories you may not have heard before about the series and its cast. From Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) to Lt. La Forge (LeVar Burton), check out the full interviews with each of these TV legends in the videos and links below.

For Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, the characters were all metaphors for a larger vision

George Takei explains how “Sulu” got his name.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. convinced “Uhura” to stay on Star Trek!

Nichelle Nichols (“Uhura”) was about to quit the series, when a chance encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. opened her eyes to the important role that she had in representing African-Americans on television.

Leonard Nimoy created Mr. Spock’s “Vulcan salute”

Leonard Nimoy (“Mr. Spock”) explains where the famed “Vulcan salute” came from.

William Shatner almost missed out on being “Captain Kirk”

William Shatner was cast as “Alexander the Great” but thankfully, the project failed and he took the role of “Captain Kirk” by default.

Joan Collins’ daughter convinced her to appear on Star Trek

Actress Joan Collins appeared on one of Star Trek’s most beloved episodes and even attended a convention!

The Enterprise’s “whoosh” in Star Trek’s opening was voiced by the theme’s composer

Composer  Alexander Courage describes how he came up with the theme song for Star Trek.

A wig saved Next Generation’s Captain Picard!

Star Trek: Next Generation producer Rick Berman explains how Patrick Stewart almost wasn’t cast as “Captain Picard.”

“Khan” left Mr. Roarke in the dust

Ricardo Montalban was worried audiences would identify him with Fantasy Island’s “Mr. Roarke” when he reprised the role of “Khan” on Star Trek, but he was able to find the character’s true voice by watching the original 1967 episode “Space Seed” where he first played “Khan.

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Geordi could see all, but the actor playing him saw almost nothing!

LeVar Burton “Geordi La Forge” actually could not see behind his character’s visor.

The secret to the transporter effect was fireworks

Director Joseph Wilcots reveals how the shimmery effect was created.

For more about Star Trek, visit the Archive’s curated show page.

Producer Robert Justman Has Died — Archive Interview Online

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Robert Justman, who was an associate producer of the original Star Trek series and co-authored a definitive volume on the series (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story) has died at the age of 81.

Robert Justman’s four hour interview is available online. Click here to access.

Interview description:
Justman talked about breaking into the entertainment industry as a production assistant in low budget feature films. Justman discussed his entrance into television as a second assistant director starting with the series The Adventures of Superman. Justman described his continued work in television where he moved up to first assistant director and unit production manager on such series as The Outer Limits. He discussed in great detail his work as an associate producer on the classic science fiction series Star Trek and its later incarnation Star Trek: The Next Generation (for which he served as the supervising producer in its first season). For Star Trek he discussed working with creator Gene Roddenberry, talked about the cast members, and described memorable episodes.