A few weeks ago we told you about the plan of the Star Trek fans over at Star Trek: Phase II to film the script for “He Walked Among Us”, a recently uncovered, lost original series Star Trek episode. This should have been just fine, they’ve made fan films out of old Trek scripts before, it’s all not for profit, and the Trek rights holders at CBS have never cared. But that was before JJ Abrams got control of the franchise.
Now CBS has sent their lawyers to shut them down.
Norman Spinrad, who wrote the script, recently started making the “He Walked Among Us” screenplay available for a modest fee over on Amazon. CBS heard about all the fan interest in the discarded story, and immediately launched their cease and desist torpedoes. Spinrad has been forced to remove the script from the internet.
Further, CBS has made it clear that while they may consider offering licensed copies of the script to fans for a fee, they will never let Phase II go ahead with their plans to film it.
For his part Spinrad can’t even really talk about any of it, he’s been so completely wrapped up by CBS’s attack dog copyright lawyers. He published a statement on his website which was clearly prepared not by him but by legal council, in which he says as much.
There’s no hard evidence that current franchise director JJ Abrams is to blame for this, but it’s impossible not to notice that CBS was perfectly fine with what Phase II was doing, letting them adapt other scripts in the past, before Abrams took control of Star Trek and started building a wall around his sets.
Spinrad can’t come right out and say what’s going on, because of his legal problems, but when a fan asserted that JJ Abrams probably wasn’t to blame for this he responded by saying “I didn’t say that.” Which he followed up with “I am not legally bound not to say that I found J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek film quite inferior to the Phase II videos and his cavalier attitude towards the decades-long legacy of what Star Trek has come to mean to the general culture.”
JJ Abrams is notoriously secretive and, to put it bluntly, often seems a little paranoid when it comes to control over the projects he’s working on. It’s not a stretch to imagine him pushing CBS to shut this down but, I’m not sure it really matters who’s responsible. The lawyers win again.