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Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ockeghem, Mar 18, 2009.
"Ellison Sues Star Trek." http://harlanellison.com/heboard/vis...ssrelease.html
I love this part ... When Mr. Ellison calmed down, he continued, soberly, “They maintain fortresses staffed and insulated with corporate and legal Black Legions whose ability to speak fluent bullshit is the ramadoola of gyrating, gibbering numbers via which they cling to every dollar. And when you aren’t getting paid for the marvels you helped bring forth -- fine, hard, careful artifacts that are making others pig-rich -- at some point any sane person knows he has three, and only three choices: the first is to sit around dinner parties and ceaselessly whine over your sushi about how they screwed you, boo hoo, but you can’t beef about it Out There in the World or they’ll blacklist you; the second is to pick up an Uzi somewhere, crash your SUV through a Studio gate, and just run amok; and the third, last, choice is this one – to act like an adult, to take ‘em on in Federal Court and to make the greedy, amoral bastards blink blood out of their eyes. What they do is tantamount to common street-thug robbery... just add the pig-rich Madoff-style smoothyguts attorneys. "When Mr. Ellison calmed down ..." ???? Now THAT'S science fiction. It's not possible in this universe. Of course, he's right, though. But good luck ever getting that money. Ask Art Buchwald, who sued Paramount for copping his story for "Coming to America." He eventually won ... some of his attorney fees back. But that's it. It cost him his blood pressure and all composure and probably a few years. And, of course, you can't ask him anymore because he's dead. The WGA is not going to stand up to a studio like Paramount on behalf of a writer suing that studio for back compensation. That too would only happen in a science fiction story; and not even one that Ellison would be imaginative enough to write.
I kind of agree that they should throw him a bone when they do merchandising on his (one) Star Trek contribution--such as tie-in novels and "Guardian" toys. However, does he really think Paramount's going to give him a nickel when he says thing about them like "Pay me and pay off all the other writers from whom you’ve made hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars...from OUR labors...just so you can float your fat asses in warm Bahamian waters." ...and that's just the part of his tirade that I feel safe to re-post here. The rest of it is a masterpiece of profane invective. I think you should all click on the link--you'll never forget it. Quote pieces of it next time you have to cuss out a rude waiter or delivery person. It's great! But where in Webster's are the correct definitions of "ramadoola" and "smoothyguts?" Read on down to the bottom of his post--he gets more and more insane. He should learn that no one's going to throw money at a crazy man to shut him up. Good luck to him, but--what a bitch he's become!
Ellison has always come off as an egomaniac of the first order to me, and this only further cements that image with me. His book on the "City" controversy actually succeeding in doing what is usually the impossible with me, and that's making me sympathize with Gene Roddenberry. I have always felt that Ellison's talent as a *television* writer has been grossly overrated, and his original "City" script IMO only proves that because after reading it, I found it vastly inferior to the episode as aired (which IMO isn't even in my personal Top 5 of best Trek episodes)
Honestly I'm not surprised Harlan gone down this road before with mixed success. Elison is part brilliant writer part whinny loser who will throw down a law suit like the best of the Hollywood slime.
My own blood pressure is too high for me to read that. Seriously, more power to him! He did write the best episode of the show.
Radioman, Subjectively speaking, I think COTEOF is one of the best, but not necessarily the best. But, assuming for a moment that you're right, I am not convinced that Ellison would admit to writing it the way it was realized (or the way we see it on the screen). He's on record as saying that TPTB [or whomever] didn't do it justice (or words to that effect).
I've never understood the role of the Writer's Guild since they seem to be basically run to collect fees, but avoid doing any real work. You're better protected sending your script to the Library of Congress for copyright than paying the fee for the WGA. The union is run by producers who write so when it comes time to negotiate, they never get the best deal. Since the dawn of Home Video, they've been willing to roll over and be a good puppy for the studios. Their big contract advance was a fee if the DVD contains the script. How many times do you see the script on a DVD? The WGA does not protect the writer to the same scale as BMI or ASCAP does a music writer. Having hung out with Harlan a few times, the man has a beef. Paramount is making a fortune off his script (and the other Star Trek writers). Think about how long this show has lasted in syndication. Think of how many home video releases they've given it? And how many of those were top dollar sales compared to what Paramount was charging for other TV shows?
Seeing as how Ellison has always been so anxious to disown the script that aired as inferior to the one he wrote first (and to take cheap shots at all the actors who helped make the episode a success like he did with Joan Collins, just because she couldn't accurately remember all the details decades later when writing her autobio) it strikes me as more than a tad hypocritical for him to suddenly demand all this extra money stemming from the success of the episode that *aired*, and which had uncredited rewrites from D.C. Fontana and probably Gene Coon as well.
I think JackP is right that Ellison is somewhat hypocritical for wanting a piece of a script he originally disowned as wanting any piece of (and according to the info here, didn't even author the final version). But some of his suits have more merit than others ... I was the guy who first warned James Cameron that Ellison would sue him over The Terminator. Cameron and I had the same agent in 1983 and he was actually attached to direct a screenplay of mine in a deal that one of us ultimately backed out of for artistic differences with the producer (yes, I'm the idiot who missed out having the last Cameron-directed project that he didn't also write). But during the process and negotiations (and breakfasts at the Omelette Parlor) Cameron showed me his early drafts and sketches for The Terminator he was just then writing. My first reaction was to be a supportive writer and tell him how cool the concept was, but my second reaction was, "Hey, isn't this like 'Soldier' from The Outer Limits? You don't want to mess with Harlan Ellison." Cameron admitted he was a huge TOS fan, but brushed off the similarities. And the rest is history, including Ellison's added credit on that movie to this date. Last Ellison story (hey, forgive me, but where else am I gonna drag these old war stories out than a thread on Ellison?) ... I'm in a car at a light on Doheny in L.A. behind a pick up truck with a sweet classic Mustang pulled up beside it, and the truck driver (being a truck driver) casually spits out his window and it happens to land on the hood of the sweet Mustang. And who should come flying out of the Mustang, running up to the pick up truck and start slamming his hand on the side door of the truck and screaming and frothing out the mouth like a this wild little pit bull on crystal meth but ... yep, you guessed it. My first and only direct experience with the force that is Harlan Ellison (and a great reminder that sometimes it's better to never actually meet or encounter a person you are a fan of). But then, again, it was the perfect way to meet my expectations of him.
Heh; sounds like Ellison but I'd probably do the same thing. As long as the truck driver wasn't much bigger than me, that is. My only encounter with Ellison was 10+ years ago when he was doing a signing at Borders books in Thousand Oaks, California--I didn't even know he was going to be there. I just happened to show up when he was promoting something. And there he was. And he looked terrible. And apparently the event was not well-promoted because there was only like one lady in line for autographs. And Ellison was shouting directly across the room at some of the Borders staff asking 'well, where the f*** are all my fans?' jumping around, sweating. I steered clear of him; didn't realize till that moment what a prick he could be. I guess Ellison has become the Poster Child of Those Who Rant. I remember in college I was going off on some angry tirade about somethin' or other... And these two guys said, "Do you read Harlan Ellison by any chance?"
It may be a POS, but it's his POS. In all seriousness, these are the people who claimed the half-a-billion-dollar-grossing Oscar champion "Forrest Gump" lost money. They're graduates of the Max Bialystock School of Accounting.
Even if that's true, the simple fact that it's Ellison already has me predisposed to root for the studio. The effect Ellison has in making me feel sympathetic towards people and entities I don't ordinarily think highly of (Roddenberry I think was a sleaze on all levels) reminds me of Felix's incredulous line to Oscar in a great S5 "Odd Couple". "Do you realize what you're doing? For the first time, you've got an audience ROOTING for Howard Cosell!"
It's definitely my favorite overall. I have a lot of favs though. I guess I really need to read all his comments. I'll check it out soon and comment some more.
Radioman, Hey, it's a great episode to list as your favorite, no question. BTW, if I recall correctly, you're not really a Trek fan, right? So to have you discussing the show is a plus in my book.
Please explain to this non-Trekkie (whose mother watched TOS regularly in its network run) why you feel that way.
Let's just say that Roddenberry tended to let his libido control his life in many ways that don't speak highly as to his overall character as an individual human being (IMO at least).
Shouldn't Ellison have sued when the TAS episode "Yesteryear" first aired back in '73? It used the Guardian of Forever too! And since he is the only one I've heard publicly say bad things about Roddenberry, I'm not inclined to believe decades old gossip.
No no! It's my fav show. Lately I've been watching the British show UFO. It's a worthy successor to Trek if you ask me.
The man liked his women. I'd say I'm not the only one jealous about the notion that he probably did the funky chicken with Lt. Uhura.