Category: TV Serials
On September 23, 1961, NBC introduced its new series, “Saturday Night at the Movies,” featuring Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable in “How to Marry a Millionaire.” This broadcast was an astounding success and pointed to Hollywood’s growing inclination to release its post-1948 movies to television. Seven more series representing all three networks and every night of the week appeared over the next five years.
The culmination of this trend was an ABC Sunday telecast of “The Bridge on the River Kwai” in September 1966.” It would be some time before anyone tried to make the same case for American television, which had changed little from the way Newton Minow, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, had described it to its producers in 1961, as “a vast wasteland”. Minow had just been appointed to his post by John F. Kennedy, and many in his audience might have expected gentler treatment from a president who had been elected, they believed, on the strenght of his appeal on television.
The precise birth date of the telefilm is arguable, although only a handful of contenders exist prior to 1961. Claims range from Ron Amateau’s 60-minute Western, “The Bushwackers, ” which appeared on CBS in 1951, to Disney’s “Davey Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier,” which was broadcast as three separate segments during the 1954-55 debut season of “The Wonderful World of Disney.”
Also, it was not uncommon during the late 1950s for TV’s dramatic anthologies to present some of their teleplays on either film or videotape. Three shows especially, “Desilu Playhouse,” “Kraft Theatre,” and “The Bob Hope Show,” filmed a number of their one-hour offerings, while a few of these presentations were even expanded into a second hour airing the following week as a finale of a two-parter. Still, these haphazard examples have really more to do with trivia than historical precedent, as the man primarily responsible for pioneering the formal properties of the telefeature is Jennings Lang, a New York lawyer who became programming chief for MCA’s Revue in the late 1950s.
Television obliged politicians to become performers in a way radio never had. Kennedy, youthful, authoritative and almost handsome enough to play the lead in a TV doctor series, seemed perfectly cast. Pursuing a policy of accessibility to the camera, he held live press conferences, delivered an ultimatum to Khrushchev via television during the Cuban missile crisis, and encouraged his wife to take the nation on a Tour of the White House. The impact of his assassination was intensified by the fact that he was not just the President, but a television celebrity whom the viewing public had been encouraged to feel they knew through the intimacy of the medium. For the four days between the assassination and the funeral all three networks suspended their regular schedules and carried no advertising.
By 1960 half the population of the United States depended on television as its prime source of news. Network prime time had settled into a mixture of half-hour comedy shows and hour-long action/drama series. Drama, like comedy, was constructed around a repeatable situation, usually provided by a professional activity. Lawyer- and doctor -shows provided an ideal format for hourlong stories featuring guest stars as clients or patients, but the same formula was used for series on teachers and social workers.
The formula had its limitations. The central characters had to remain unchanged by the episode’s events, in order to be in their proper places by the following week’s episode. The serial form provided the programming stability necessary to deliver viewers to advertisers on a regular basis. Networks tried to carry their audiences from one show to the next, employing the principle of Least Objectionable Programming. This meant that the majority of viewers who simply watched television, rather than selecting specific programs, would wacth whichever show they disliked least.
As mentioned earlier, the fall of 1966 was when ABC first decided to begin telecasting a number of Hollywood “blockbuster” films, including “The Bridgeon the River Kwai” on the River Kwai” and later “The Robe.” CBS, on the other hand, strove for prestige programming to counterbalance its lineup of popular, though pedestrian situation comedies, such as “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Green Acres,” “Petticoat Junction,” the “Andy Griffith Show,” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”
These specials were composed mostly of important American plays, like “Death of a Salesman” and “The Glass Menagerie,” which actually pulled moderate, though respectable ratings for a time. Most important, however, Lang was first able to interest NBC in financially promoting the made-for-TV form in the spring of 1964. By 1966, it was apparent to both Universal TV and NBC that they had gambled themselves into developing a television genre of enormous potential, as economic dividends were realized almost immediately from this feature-length hybrid. In contrast, however, much of the aesthetic and socio-cultural possibilities inherent in the telefilm would lie dormant for another five years.
The unit of television viewing was not the individual program but the daytime or evening schedule as a whole. As a result, television placed little emphasis on the distinction between fact and fiction. In sports and game shows it offered its audience an engagement with an endless dramatic experience, in which consequences and conclusions mattered less than the exuberance of competition, choice and performance. Television had a peculiar capacity to dissolve distinctions between comedy, drama, news and commercials.
Television’s other typical form, the talk show, perfected its formula in the early 1960s with The Tonight Show, hosted by Johnny Carson. Talk shows packaged personality as a commodity, but all television employed it; even newsreaders became celebrities.
NBC and MCA, Inc., inaugurated 1964 by creating “Project 120,” a never fully actualized weekly film anthology whose very name echoed the live dramatic series of the 1950s. NBC allotted $250,000 for the first telefeature, as MCAUniversal hired Hollywood journeyman Don Siegel to direct “‘Johnny North,’ an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s short story, ‘The Killers,’ starring John Cassavetes, Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and Ronald Reagan in his last role. The movie that resulted eventually cost over $900,000 and was deemed by the network “too spicy, expensive, and violent for TV screens.”
Clearly, it was evident to both NBC and MCA from the outset that the budgetary constraints and the dictates of content would be different for the telefilm from what was previously expected for the usual theatrical picture. As a result, “Johnny North” was retitled “The Killers,” and the film was subsequently released to movie theaters nationwide. Mort Werner, NBC-TV vice president in charge of programming at the time, reflected upon this experience: “We’ve learned to control the budget. Two new ‘movies’ will get started soon, and the series probably will show up on television in 1965.”
The 23-year-old entertainer has teamed with producer Aaron Kaplan, as well as her mom Mandy Teefey, to bring the series about a “low income Latino neighborhood and is told through the eyes of an 18-year-old girl destined for greatness,” Deadline reports.
Los Angeles high school senior Ana Cobarrubias will also consult on the project. Ana was a speaker at last year’s Zimmer Children’s Museum Discovery Award Dinner and got a standing ovation after her speech about overcoming obstacles in her east Los Angeles neighborhood.
The legend impacted multiple generations
In its more than 40-year history, one that has impacted multiple generations, “Star Trek” has carved out an iconic place in modern pop culture as the only ongoing story that encapsulates the awe, wonder and bold audacity of the human desire to reach for the stars. With the indelible opening words of the original 1960s television series, “Space, the Final Frontier,” a succession of journeys were launched across the cosmos that did and, to this day, still celebrate the thrill of adventure, the pioneering spirit of exploration and the drive to create an ever-more amazing future full of possibilities. The daring and provocative voyages of the Starship Enterprise, and the many ships that would soon follow in her flight path, have appealed to the stargazer in all of us, and our hopes and dreams that technological and cultural advances will bring out the best of our humanity.
The original TV series was not a hit when it first aired, but later caught on like wildfire among the ever-growing legion of fans who responded to its compellingly funny, contentious, charismatic personalities and its five-year mission to peacefully engage new worlds and cultures. But how did that mission begin? What brought together this disparate group of brash, brilliant, ambitious young men and women and drove them to explore new frontiers? And how did they forge that special chemistry and sense of purpose that would inspire so many discoveries and fantastic adventures for years and even centuries to come?
For director / producer J.J. Abrams, going back to the beginning after more than six television series and ten feature films was the only way to forge into the future. His vision was to literally start fresh, beginning with James T. Kirk and his one-day First Officer, the Vulcan Spock’s advancement in the placePlaceNameStarfleet PlaceTypeAcademy and their extraordinary first journey together.
Abrams came to the project with great respect for series creator Gene Roddenberry and all that “Star Trek” had achieved as the creator of an archetypal modern myth and cult phenomenon. However, he also wanted to take the story where it had never been before: making a state-of-the-art action epic about two heroic leaders as brash young men in the making.
“I was a fan of the original series, although I was never a Trekker,” says Abrams. “Yet I always felt there was something that had not been done with `Star Trek.’ There have been ten movies, but this is the first time that a movie has dealt with the fundamental, primary story Gene Roddenberry originally created in 1966.” Abrams continues: “What I hope with this movie is that you never have to have seen anything about `Star Trek’ before to really enjoy a comical, romantic, suspenseful adventure, but that it also does proud the lasting, brilliant world that Gene Roddenberry created. The brilliant thing `Star Trek’ brought to the world was a dose of optimism and I hope this movie continues in that tradition.”
While many anticipated a total re-boot from Abrams, he was excited to go in an unexpected direction, heading way back, as it were, into the never-seen 23rd century launch of the U.S.S. Enterprise. When he brought the idea of a “’Star Trek’ origin story” to producer Damon Lindelof, with whom Abrams (along with Jeffrey Lieber) created the contemporary television phenomenon “Lost,” the producer was instantly taken by the idea.
Explains Lindelof, “For me, the idea that no one has ever told an origin story for Kirk and Spock and all these characters was very cool. We had a great conversation about how this crew of people might have come together and learned to sacrifice certain parts of their personalities to get along. It was really fun and, next thing I knew, Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman were writing a script.”
A fan of “Star Trek” since childhood, Lindelof believes the story’s premise and characters have continued to be so relevant for so long because they capture something essential about the space travel mythos: the sheer hopefulness of it. “Most stories we see now about the distant future are bleak, dismal and dystopian. The incredible thing about the initial `Star Trek’ television series is that it was so energetic, optimistic and cool. It presented the future the way we’d like to believe it will unfold. It’s a future to aim for.”
That view, he felt, was a great match for Abrams’ exuberant style of character-and-action-driven storytelling. “J.J. brings innovation to everything he does, but also brings an ability to boil a story down to its most human elements and translate hugely complicated production challenges into something with mass appeal, and that was all necessary to go back to the beginning of `Star Trek’ with today’s cinematic technology,” says Lindelof.
Adds executive producer Bryan Burk, who has also collaborated with Abrams on “Lost,” “Alias” and “Cloverfield”: “We envisioned this `Star Trek’ as a truly grand adventure about two very different men whose destiny is not only to become true friends, but iconic partners, guardians and explorers.”
Executive producer Jeffrey Chernov, who oversaw the line production, concludes: “The film for me became not only a new look at the `Star Trek’ universe, but a kind of cross between `The Right Stuff’ and the original `Star Wars.’ It has that fresh, imaginative, intergalactic storytelling, but is also very grounded in the idea of young men and women with a lot of heart and camaraderie. When you add J.J.’s mastery of action and love of scope, you have something very fun and entertaining.”
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry and owned by CBS (TV series) and Paramount Pictures (Film Rights).[Note 1] Star Trek: The Original Series and its live-action TV spin-off series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise as well as the Star Trek film franchise make up the main canon. The canonicity of Star Trek: The Animated Series is debated,[Note 2] and the expansive library of Star Trek novels and comics is generally considered non-canon, although still part of the franchise.
The first series, now referred to as The Original Series, debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons on NBC. It followed the interstellar adventures of James T. Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise, an exploration vessel of a 23rd-century interstellar “United Federation of Planets”. In creating the first Star Trek, Roddenberry was inspired by Westerns, Wagon Train, the Horatio Hornblower novels and Gulliver’s Travels. In fact, the original series was almost titled Wagon Train to the Stars. These adventures continued in the short-lived Star Trek: The Animated Series and six feature films.
Four spin-off television series were eventually produced: Star Trek: The Next Generation followed the crew of a new starship Enterprise set a century after the original series; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, set contemporaneously with The Next Generation; and Star Trek: Enterprise, set before the original series, in the early days of human interstellar travel. Four additional The Next Generation feature films were produced.
In 2009, the film franchise underwent a relaunch with a prequel to the original series set in an alternate timeline titled simply Star Trek. This film featured a new cast portraying younger versions of the crew from the original show.[Note 3] A sequel to this film, Star Trek Into Darkness, premiered on May 16, 2013. A thirteenth theatrical feature, a sequel to Into Darkness, has been confirmed for release in July 2016, to coincide with the franchise’s 50th anniversary. In November 2015, CBS announced the development of a new Star Trek TV series to be shown on a digital platform from January 2017.
Star Trek has been a cult phenomenon for decades. Fans of the franchise are called Trekkies or Trekkers. The franchise spans a wide range of spin-offs including games, figurines, novels, toys, and comics. Star Trek had a themed attraction in Las Vegas that opened in 1998 and closed in September 2008. At least two museum exhibits of props travel the world. The series has its own full-fledged constructed language, Klingon. Several parodies have been made of Star Trek. In addition, viewers have produced several fan productions.
Star Trek is noted for its influence on the world outside of science fiction. It has been cited as an inspiration for several technological inventions, including the cell phone and tablet computers. The franchise is also noted for its progressive civil rights stances. The Original Series included one of television’s first multiracial casts. Star Trek references can be found throughout popular culture from movies such as the submarine thriller Crimson Tide to the animated series South Park.
J.J. Abrams’ upcoming “Star Trek” sequel finally has a title. The latest installment in the ongoing adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise has been christened “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
The follow-up to the 2009 reboot will once again star Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock and Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, with Abrams returning as director. Benedict Cumberbatch, who is best known for his work on the BBC mystery series “Sherlock,” will play the villain.
Set in the 23rd century, Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise are sent to the Klingon homeworld seeking former Starfleet member-turned-terrorist John Harrison. After the release of Star Trek, Abrams, Burk, Lindelof, Kurtzman and Orci agreed to produce its sequel. Filming began in January 2012. Into Darkness’s visual effects were primarily created by Industrial Light & Magic.
The film was converted to 3D in post-production. Star Trek Into Darkness premiered at Event Cinemas in Sydney, Australia, on April 23, 2013, and was released on May 9 in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Europe and Peru, with other countries following. The film was released on May 16 in the United States and Canada, opening at IMAX cinemas a day earlier.
Into Darkness was a financial success and garnered positive reviews, but was received more controversially and critically among Star Trek fans. Its gross earnings of over $467 million worldwide made it the highest-grossing entry in the Star Trek franchise. A sequel, Star Trek Beyond, is scheduled to be released on July 22, 2016.
Minka Kelly rides a jet ski while filming Charlie’s Angels October 4 in Miami, Florida. The 31-year-old actress, who was joined on set by co-star Rachael Taylor, also performed CPR on an extra for another scene. Co-star Ramon Rodriguez recently dispelled rumors he was romantically linked to any of his cast mates, telling Extra, “No, not right now. I really do treat them as if they were my sisters.”