STAR TREK CREATOR: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry by David Alexander

STAR TREK CREATOR: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry

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This readable biography sketches the trajectory of a man whose life might have served as the plot for one of his television dramas. The creator of Star Trek flew missions as a B-17 pilot during WW II, wrote speeches for LA's chief of police, and penned scripts for shows like Dragnet during television's Golden Age. Alexander succeeds in recreating Roddenberry's voice: As the official biographer chosen by Roddenberry, he provides correspondence written over the years to family, friends, and fans. But the author only shifts to warp speed when he discusses how Roddenberry launched the original Star Trek. The book lets Trekkers gorge themselves on the trivia of this cultural phenomenon and overhear backstage bickering. Production memos teem with such revelatory details as actors' contracts (Nimoy originally earned a fourth of Shatner's salary), casting decisions, and of course, the secret campaigns to save Star Trek (all of which Roddenberry inaugurated). Although Rodenberry's widow, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, states in the introduction that her husband wanted to be depicted ""warts and all,"" Alexander remains a friend throughout. Interviews with cast members are curiously absent and would have added depth to such incidents as the series' -- and television's -- first interracial kiss. According to Alexander, this met with only a single memo of protest from NBC; however, others have attested that network suits refused to let the scene be shot as originally written. To be fair, or provocative, Roddenberry's bouts of drinking, use of amphetamines, and frequent infidelities are recounted. The chance to create another Trek TV series, however, stirred him. While his bitter fights with veteran staffers marred the production, Star Trek: The Next Generation ran for seven years and remained true to its creator's optimistic belief in humanity. While this account swings too far between elegy and gossip, it successfully conveys the spirit of Roddenberry, who led us ""where no one has gone before.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
Page count: 624pp
Publisher: ROC/Penguin