A few months back, the Internet was a buzz with news that a lost Star Trek: The Original Series script had resurfaced after nearly five decades. The plan then was for the fan group Star Trek The New Voyages: Phase II to film it with the original writer, Norman Spinrad, at the helm to direct. Sadly, it seems those dreams will remain unrealized as CBS has blocked the fan production.
The script titled “He Walked Among Us” surfaced last October at the New York City Collectible Paperback and Pulp Fiction Expo where a fan asked Spinard to autograph it for him. After obtaining a digital copy of the script, Spinard made it available online for any interested parties. Not long after, the fan group New Voyages contacted Spinard in order to not only bring the lost script to life but to have him direct.
Spinard seemed keen to be involved in the project, even trying to get William Shatner to join the cast in the dramatic lead he’d originally written for Milton Berle. Yes, you read every word of that sentence correctly.
However, it was not to be. In an update to his blog post announcing the find, Spinard writes:
I and CBS have agreed to resolve our disputes concerning the ownership of the Work; as part of the settlement between the Parties, the Parties have agree that there will be no further comment; and CBS is considering opportunities to offer licensed copies of the Work.
It seems that CBS got wind of the project and kiboshed it, citing their right to offer licensed copies of the script. Spinard has also removed the electronic version from Barnes&Noble online, where it had been available for download.
While it’s unusual for CBS to take such a heavy-handed interest in a not-for-profit fan production, it is probably completely legit. Many media companies retain the rights to works written for them indefinitely, regardless of whether or not they were ever used. However, the New Voyages group had already run an episode that was rewritten from an unused Next Generation script. The group has even had original cast members and writers are frequent contributors.
Despite that, the situation with CBS seems to have put a final end to this exciting project. James Cawley, who is the senior executive producer for New Voyages and also has the role of Jams Kirk, told The New York Times:
“I’m not going to do anything that might be questionable. I have such a good relationship with CBS that I can call them anytime and ask, ‘Is this a problem?’ ”
While other fan projects, like the shot-for-shot remake of Indiana Jones and the crowd-sourced remake of Star Wars: A New Hope have seen a begrudging acceptance by the original creators, it sounds like “He Walked Among Us” won’t see the light of day anytime soon. Unless CBS decides to release it as a coffee table book, or something.
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