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Scott Atwell Star Trek Discussion thread (Series and Films)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ockeghem, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. Carabimero

    Carabimero Producer
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    I agree 100%. I’d been reading for TNG almost a year when Piller asked if I had a story I wanted to submit. When I said I did, but I’d need time off to write the script, he smiled. “Just pitch me your story.”

    My pitch in very condensed form: I told him about a disabled woman who wants to join Starfleet. And though she passed the written exam with a higher score than Kirk, she couldn’t pass the physical tests. Piller wanted to know what happened to her. I told him that she considers artificial implants and travels to a planet where they do them, but decides her humanity is worth more than her desire to join Starfleet. At that moment Orions raid the planet for alloys. The Enterprise arrives to protect the planet. In the end, our disabled heroine helps Picard save the day through seeing an emotional pattern that Data couldn’t detect in the Orion attack, an ability she would’ve lost with implants in her body.

    Piller said it sounded okay, but he wanted to know what the point of the story was. I told him it was about how being different is not a weakness but a strength. Diversity makes us stronger, I said.

    He informed me I was no longer a reader but a writer on TNG. Someone hooked me up with an agent. I signed a step deal to write a script for the show. The first step was a one-page treatment, where I fleshed out my pitch. I was informed my deal could end at any step, and I only got paid for the steps I finished.

    My treatment was soundly rejected. I was told if I rewrote it with some notes, it would be reconsidered. I learned this was common. I wrote three drafts of the treatment before I got a deal to expand it into an outline.

    Writing the outline was brutal. I remember when I showed Piller my first draft of the outline, he smiled, told me not to panic, and then threw it in the trash. “You’re trying too hard.” He told me to go home, pretend I was sitting around a campfire, and simply tell my story like I was talking to friends. “Then turn what you said into an outline.” It took me two more outline drafts before I got paid for the next step: writing a teleplay.

    To make a long story short, I eventually got the teleplay in good enough shape to reach Roddenberry. I heard back that Gene rejected it out of hand because “there are no disabled people in the 24th century.”

    I was crushed. But told not to worry; something like this happened all the time, that Gene was actually “starting to believe his idealistic bullshit.” And even though Piller went to bat for my script, obviously it never got made.

    But Piller gave me a chance. First as a story analyst and then as a writer. If not for Michael Piller, it’s doubtful I would have gone on to be a successful story doctor. And I know he did the same thing for a bunch of other folks. I truly believe ST—and this world as a whole—ended up better off with Michael Piller than it would have been without him.
     
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  2. Blimpoy06

    Blimpoy06 Supporting Actor

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    Interesting story. DS9 did have a similar character in the Second Season episode "Melora". They navigated around the disabled aspect by saying she came from a planet with a lower gravity than Earth. It's strange that Roddenberry made that statement as Geordi was born blind and named in honor of a long time Star Trek fan with a disability that Roddenberry met at conventions. There was a deaf negotiator, Riva, in a Season Two TNG episode, "Loud As A Whisper" too. Was there any discussion of making an alteration to your character in able to use your story?
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Message #13143 of 13315 Feb 28, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
    Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    (edit: on the other hand, I'm reading way too much into a short description of a more involved and nuanced story... sorry if I've sounded judgy)
     
  4. Carabimero

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    Great post, Darin.

    The "problem" with my script was that it portrayed an actual disabled person. Geordi and the others you mentioned aren't portrayed as disabled in the sense that their technological aids render them just as capable or in some cases more capable than normal people. My character was a stubborn lady, determined to hang with Starfleet using her grit and wits, not "technological crutches," which she didn't trust. It was the only way to make my point. Roddenberry agreed with me on that. He simply didn't want to go in that direction. He wanted to show that in the far-flung future, nobody was disabled, that everyone had value. I wanted to suggest that right now, in the present, everyone had value--even the disabled.

    I have never seen a word of malice or bad will in any of your thousands of posts. And on the face of them I would never infer any. P.S. My pitch got put through the rigorous process I describe in post 13134, a process Piller patiently taught me.
     
  5. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    As a parent of a disabled child who cannot walk, I have to think that Gene was right. With the many technological advances that are on the immediate horizon, it's likely that disability will become a thing of the past, perhaps even in our lifetimes. I say that not only as a hopeful parent, but as someone who has been studying the science of these issues for several years now. With gene editing, nanotechnology, stem cell therapy and more, we're 10-20 years away from eliminating these sorts of things (assuming no government roadblocks, etc.). If anyone is really interested in the subject, I recommend books by Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamondes.

    That said, I applaud you for your story about the disabled woman. It's very hard for kids like my son to see themselves in movies and television (unless it's Professor X), and positive reinforcement that they are capable people who are valued and needed in society is very important.

    I also am thrilled by your stories of Michael Piller. From everything I have read and anyone I have talked to, Piller was a terrific guy and a great talent. I really do credit him more than anyone with making TNG the great show it turned into. The third season of TNG remains my favorite; I love every episode. You're very lucky to have spent time with him and to have learned from him.
     
  6. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    I just don't get where Roddenberry is coming from with this one. Take away Geordi's glasses and he's disabled. Your character wasn't willing to depend on technological crutches. That doesn't make her more, or less, disabled than Geordi, just that she was unwilling to take the measures required to overcome her disability. Geordi was. IMHO the primary difference between her and Geordi is that simple fact. Geordi accepted the necessary implants, she rejected them.

    Roddenberry saying "in the far-flung future, nobody was disabled" just doesn't ring true if Geordi needs the special implants/glasses to see, or that Melora needs a special chair due to gravity differences (doesn't that actually make you "disabled" in that environment?). Geordi still has a disability (and it's brought to the forefront in at least one episode where he loses the glasses but still has to function somehow), it's just that it's being managed in a way that better puts him on a level playing field.

    I'd have liked to have seen that episode you wrote. I think it would have been a good one.
     
  7. Message #13147 of 13315 Mar 1, 2018
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    Carabimero

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    It was Gene's show. It was his call. But most everybody else at the time thought he was wrong for the simple reason that the show was already giving hope for disabled people in the future. As a person who can't walk myself, I was trying to use the power of Star Trek to give hope to disabled people in the present, something, IMHO, far more valuable.

    Thanks. For what it's worth, many writers who are often praised in this thread told me that my final draft teleplay was far better than most of the actual episodes that had been produced to that point. It just wasn't meant to be.
     
  8. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I think, for me, the potential issue with the story would be your idea (and this may be more about the nuance of a larger idea not translating to a shorter description), that she solved the episode's problem by using her emotions, but that if she had gotten her disability treated, she wouldn't have had the ability to solve the problem. That's the thing that doesn't compute to me.

    On the other hand, what I do think is interesting, is the idea that someone would choose to live with a disability or imperfection that could be corrected rather than going ahead and correcting it. I realize this is in no way the same thing as a disability, but I have a very minor example of not getting a treatment in my own life. I wear glasses. I have to wear them pretty much all the time, I cannot see without them. I could have had laser surgery to have my eyesight corrected, but I've chosen not to. Glasses have just become a part of my life, and I can't imagine myself without them. I'd also rather wear my glasses, which come with no risks, than having a surgery that has a 99% chance of working, but still could go wrong, even if that's extremely unlikely. With my glasses, I have perfect vision, so I don't feel a need to get the surgery. Obviously, whether or not I wear glasses is nowhere near the same thing as someone who can't walk or has another type of disability. Especially because in my case, the glasses "fix" the problem, so I'm not really held back by choosing not to get surgery. But maybe in Roddenberry's vision of the future, they are the same. But I can understand a character choosing to retain the disability over correcting it through invasive surgical means. I think that's an interesting conversation, whether

    I think, in a way, Deep Space Nine covered a little of this territory when that show revealed that Dr. Bashir had been born with a mental disability, but that his parents opted to subject him to illegal genetic engineering to "fix" him. It's interesting in that the position of Starfleet and the characters in that show seem to be against genetic engineering in that context, while in TNG (or the TNG movies more specifically), there was never even the slightest hesitation about Geordi getting eye implants that worked better (and stood out less visually) than his visor. So the TNG philosophy would seem to be more along the lines of "Of course you fix the disability" while the DS9 philosophy seems to be more about accepting your limitations and working within those limitations or working through them, rather than trying to remove them.

    I think there's room for both viewpoints, to be able to say, "Here in the future, we can fix your disability if you desire that, and most people may opt for that, but if you're happy with your life as is, there should be no pressure to change either, because you are a valuable member of our team regardless."
     
  9. Message #13149 of 13315 Mar 1, 2018
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    Carabimero

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    This is exactly the choice my character faces; however, because of the nature of her disability, there would be a trade-off for her procedure: she would gain some capabilities and likely lose others, just as there is a possibility that your surgery, if you chose to do it, might go wrong; though unlikely, you might end up worse off than before.

    I was trying to put the emphasis on the power of the human heart, on grit, persistence, determination, something we could all choose to bring to bear on our lives today. Gene wanted the emphasis on technology and perfection. That limits the power of storytelling, IMO, because flaws are always more interesting than perfection, which is an illusion anyway, even in the 24th century. I do, however, admire the aspiration for perfection, but that is a very different thing.

    My character strove for perfection through her actions, which transcended the imperfections of her being. My script was, at its core, a love story. I tried to show that we don't love others for their perfection; we love them, in the long run, for their imperfections, for what is vulnerable and in need of support.
     
  10. Blimpoy06

    Blimpoy06 Supporting Actor

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    Having you given any thought into adapting it into a novel? Either within the Star Trek Universe or create your own as David Gerrold did with his Star Wolf series.
     
  11. Message #13151 of 13315 Mar 1, 2018
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    Carabimero

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    I got paid to write it, so I don't own it.

    I could rework it, set it in my own universe, and turn it into a book. But you have to understand. I was 24. It will always be my TNG story.

    I probably shouldn't reproduce this publicly, but here are the last three lines of my teleplay.

    Capture.JPG
     
  12. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Cinematographer

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    Kate Mulgrew as Councilwoman Janet Eldridge on Cheers, three-part story "Strange Bedfellows," OADs Thursday, May 1 through Thursday, May 15, 1986 on NBC (from last disc of fourth-season Cheers DVD within 6-season pack from CBS DVD/Paramount); pictures across all three parts

    1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. katemulgrewcheerssgscredit.
     
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  13. Blimpoy06

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    Star Trek Voyager - Season 6 episode "Riddles" Written by Robert J Doherty; Directed by Roxann Dawson
    [​IMG]

    I always held Voyager at the bottom of my re-watch pile when it came to Star Trek. Not because of what it was, but what it could have been. It's a safe continuation of what TNG had been doing. Never living up the the potential set up for it on TNG and DS9. I still think it has one of the best premier episodes of any Trek series. But the back story and conflicts of the Maquis are quickly cast aside and routine Starship exploration commenced. Interesting races and characters became one line jokes with predictable behavior. But once in a while Voyager would pull out some quality drama. And that's what I watched tonight.

    Tuvok is attacked in the Delta Flyer on a return trip to Voyager and suffers neurological damage as a result. The quick actions of Neelix allows Tuvok to survive until treated in sickbay. The Vulcan brain begins to establish new pathways to bypass the damaged ones. As a result, Tuvok is emotionally immature and is drawn to to Neelix as a protector and friend during this time. There is the usual miracle medical procedure at the end of the story. But the journey and exploration of friendship vs. duty is well handled by all involved here.

    [​IMG]
    Neelix is so underused on Voyager. Usually the comic relief. This story allows us to see a fully developed character who is alert and fast acting when Tuvok is attacked. Then compassionate and understanding when a colleague is deeply troubled. In lesser hands this could have been over played for the emotional value inherent when Vulcans loose their ability to shield their emotions. But the story is more concerned with if it is better for Tuvok to try to return to what he was before the attack, or be aloud to chart his own path forward from this point and develop a new personality. The decsion lies mostly on Neelix, as Tuvok is happy with his life now and fears losing it. Neelix decides the ship needs it's tactical officer more than he needs a friend.
    [​IMG]
    I'm not certain if this is the directorial debut of Roxann Dawson or not. She is one of the better actor turned directors Trek ever produced IMHO and still active today I believe. The mood she creates here is ideal for the story. The camera angles on the bridge are fresh without being showy. And it also appears a little darker thru out the ship. Writer Robert Doherty would go on to have a prolific career in television. Most recently creating the CBS drama Elementary.
     
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  14. Carabimero

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    It was. And I agree. She's right up there with Frakes IMO.
     
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  15. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Speaking of Voyager actors behind the camera...

    I have a colleague at work who keeps insisting that Rick Berman hated Garrett Wang, and made sure that Wang did not get the same opportunities as his fellow cast mates to direct. It sounds a little more urban legend than fact to me (if Berman hated him so much, he could have been written off the show) but I had never heard anything like this before. You guys ever heard anything like that?
     
  16. Carabimero

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    It's not Wang Berman blacklisted as much as Beltran.
     
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  17. Blimpoy06

    Blimpoy06 Supporting Actor

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    He talks about it here.
    http://www.startrek.com/article/straight-talk-with-voyagerundefineds-garrett-wang-part-i
     
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  18. Blimpoy06

    Blimpoy06 Supporting Actor

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    You don't get off that easy with a simple statement here. We want the dirt!
     
  19. Message #13159 of 13315 Mar 21, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
    Carabimero

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    I sent you a PM. LLAP.
     
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  20. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    Voyager isn't my favorite of the entries in the franchise, but I'd scoop them up in high def (like TNG and ENT) as long as the VAM was an candid as the other shows. Everyone was overly effusive in their story telling for ENT regarding the challenges of the series. I can only imagine VOY has really good behind the scenes stories just waiting to be told from Jeri vs. Kate to Garrett and Robert, the network, etc.
     
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