CBS blocks lost Star Trek episode

Posted by Starr Keshet

CBS has decreed that a lost Star Trek script titled "He Walked Among Us" will not be filmed or aired decades after it was first penned.

Veteran screenwriter Norman Spinrad had planned to shoot the episode sometime this fall, with James Cawley of Star Trek: New Voyages directing.

However, CBS, which retains the intellectual copyright to the episode, recently sent both Spinrad and Cawley a "cease and desist" letter demanding the two cancel the fan-sponsored shoot.

"We fully appreciate and respect the passion and creativity of the Star Trek fan and creative communities,” the network claimed in an official statement. "This is simply a case of protecting our copyrighted material and the situation has been amicably resolved."

According to The Telegraph, Cawley agreed to cancel production, while Spinraid has been forced to remove copies of the script for sale on the Internet. 

In an obvious attempt to deflect Trekkie criticism, the network insisted it was "considering opportunities to offer licensed copies of the work."

But Star Trek scriptwriter David Gerrold - who wasn’t fooled by the network’s obvious ploy - said CBS was being heavy-handed. 

"Star Trek fans are not a sleeping dragon that you want to poke."

As TG Daily previously reported, "He Walked Among Us" was commissioned by Gene Roddenberry as a vehicle of sorts to help portray Milton Berle (aka Uncle Miltie) as a serious actor.

According to Spinrad, the original version was rewritten into an "unfunny comedy" by line producer Gene Coon - who was apparently unaware that Uncle Miltie was also a serious dramatic actor and a good one.

"It was so bad that I complained to Roddenberry: 'This is so lousy, Gene, that you should kill it!... You can't, you shouldn't, shoot this thing! Read it and weep!' Gene did, and he agreed with me. I killed my second Star Trek, which, down through the years has cost me tens of thousands of dollars in lost residuals," Spinrad wrote on the Cawley Entertainment website.

"I thought the text of my original version - written on a typewriter! - was lost forever until recently a fan asked me to autograph a faded copy he had bought somewhere. I  did, and in return he sent me a pdf off a scan, and that's what I've put on Amazon, available as an eBook [which has since been removed]. This printed version is cleaned up and is a pristine script, the way I handed it to Gene Roddenberry back in 1967."