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 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 8:14 AM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)


Well-researched piece here: http://startrekfactcheck.blogspot.com/2014/04/while-he-wanders-his-galaxy-gene.html

Great work!

Lukas

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 9:04 AM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

The lesson learned is to always have an attorney review any contract before you sign.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 9:10 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Wow! Always knew about the co-credit but didn't know it was a 50/50 split. I am sure it was mentioned in liner notes but it just now registered with me. That really sucks. No wonder Sandy had a certain distance when talking about it.

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 9:23 AM   
 By:   Heath   (Member)

It feels kind of unfair and chicanery-ish, but in truth most producers, no matter how otherwise benign and creative, will, as we say in the UK, "try one on". They want to get the show on and maximise their dough. That's their bottom line. This is why god* invented lawyers and agents - to read the 20 pages of pure small print that amounts to a contract.

I'm no genius when it comes to contract law, but I do fully read any contract presented to me. Those "aha..." moments always come up - a teeny-weeny subclause written in tortuous language that is VERY easy for the eye to skip over, but in fact means the difference between your lights turning on or not at the end of the year.

It's business. A pain in the ass, but business. People I love have presented me with "aha..." documents. I know it's not personal. You just have to be ready with your red underlining pen, and be prepared to argue the points reasonably... or get an agent to do it. In that capacity alone, agents have saved many a showbusiness friendship! wink



* I'm an devout atheist, but highly religious when it comes to lawyers!

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 9:45 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

It feels kind of unfair and chicanery-ish, but in truth most producers, no matter how otherwise benign and creative, will, as we say in the UK, "try one on".

As a television producer myself, let me say that as much as I love money (and boy, do I love it!), this is stealing. I would never, ever cheat a co-worker out of what is by all rights his.

Years ago, at a show I was doing, I'd written gag lyrics to the theme song (completely as a joke, and to procrastinate doing my actual work). I told the composer, thinking he'd find it amusing, and he freaked out before I could even sing him my (obviously ludicrous) lyrics. It's a sensitive subject!

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 10:04 AM   
 By:   Ford A. Thaxton   (Member)

Well-researched piece here: http://startrekfactcheck.blogspot.com/2014/04/while-he-wanders-his-galaxy-gene.html

Great work!

Lukas


There is still a bit of a murky point....


While "THE THEME" is credited to both men....

the 'FANFARE" (Where no man has gone before) I've seen solely credit to Courage and yet in other places it's credited to both of them.

It could be just a mistake on the part of whoever is making out the cue sheets on any given show, but it's a interesting question.


Ford A. Thaxton

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 10:19 AM   
 By:   Jeyl   (Member)

There was a line in "The Neutral Zone" that perfectly captured the hypocrisy of Gene Roddenberry's vision of Star Trek.

Picard: People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We've grown out of our infancy."

Yep. A show that preaches how infantile we are today is brought to us by a man who not only wants his own share of the money, he wants other people's share as well. Reminds me of that joke from SFDeris' review of "The Child".

SFDebris: Frakes grew a beard before season 2 and the fans liked it so much that Gene kept it... I mean, he kept it in the show, not literally keep the beard. After all, Frakes wasn't a composer. No need to rip him off.

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 10:22 AM   
 By:   Heath   (Member)

It feels kind of unfair and chicanery-ish, but in truth most producers, no matter how otherwise benign and creative, will, as we say in the UK, "try one on".

As a television producer myself, let me say that as much as I love money (and boy, do I love it!), this is stealing. I would never, ever cheat a co-worker out of what is by all rights his.

Years ago, at a show I was doing, I'd written gag lyrics to the theme song (completely as a joke, and to procrastinate doing my actual work). I told the composer, thinking he'd find it amusing, and he freaked out before I could even sing him my (obviously ludicrous) lyrics. It's a sensitive subject!


It's great to hear that you'd never cheat a co-worker! That's the way it should be. God* love you! But we're not really talking about cheating. If it were cheating, then the case could go to court. The Trek thing seems to be about inserting clauses into a contract that the agent/lawyer didn't spot or didn't care about. The artist can certainly feel cheated at the end of that, and morally they'd be right. But if a dodgy contract's been signed-off and the agent has been dumb/negligent, and the producer wants to employ sharp practice then pfftt... you have been "screwed", and it's all legal.

It happens in every walk of life and industry, but showbusiness is especially prone to this stuff. It's FULL of people who look as if they're in control, but are actually terrified of failure most of the time. It can warp their moral compass, even if they're otherwise decent people. It’s a terrible shame, but it’s as old as showbusiness itself.

Roddenberry must have been particularly insecure (personally/professionally) to have dreamt up this little wheeze. Indeed he had quite a few unfulfilled years ahead of him. At least Courage went on to enjoy a full career. That doesn't excuse it morally, but you know what I mean... do you? wink


*I'm a devout atheist, but highly religious when it comes to producers who play fair!

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 10:33 AM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

GR could be really greasy at times.

I'm just glad that he did some other things really well.

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 10:48 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Maybe chalk it up to the times? How business savvy were musicians back then? Especially if this kinda thing never came up before. Probably just figured he got a standard contract, and signed it blindly.

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 11:54 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

But we're not really talking about cheating. If it were cheating, then the case could go to court. The Trek thing seems to be about inserting clauses into a contract that the agent/lawyer didn't spot or didn't care about. The artist can certainly feel cheated at the end of that, and morally they'd be right. But if a dodgy contract's been signed-off and the agent has been dumb/negligent, and the producer wants to employ sharp practice then pfftt... you have been "screwed", and it's all legal.

It happens in every walk of life and industry, but showbusiness is especially prone to this stuff. It's FULL of people who look as if they're in control, but are actually terrified of failure most of the time. It can warp their moral compass, even if they're otherwise decent people. It’s a terrible shame, but it’s as old as showbusiness itself.

Roddenberry must have been particularly insecure (personally/professionally) to have dreamt up this little wheeze. Indeed he had quite a few unfulfilled years ahead of him. At least Courage went on to enjoy a full career. That doesn't excuse it morally, but you know what I mean... do you? wink


Most cheating is not illegal, and would never be in court. But it is cheating nonetheless.

I read this article, and it mentions a clause giving Roddenberry the right to add a lyric, but I've never heard of such a thing (though of course, this was nearly five decades ago, and I'm certainly no expert in contractual precedent). As it stands today, though I'm sure there must be contractual ways out of it, if your lyrics are published, you get half the royalties. It's boilerplate, exactly as Courage is suggested to have assumed in the article. I've always believed (but again, I'm not a lawyer) that this goes not to the contract for the show, but with the performance rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) that govern credits, cue sheets, and royalties.

But the point is the same -- just because something can be done, that doesn't nullify the immorality of doing that thing. As a writer-producer, on shows I've run, I could have put my name on every script. It would have been totally within my legal right, and justifiable given the amount of writing I put into every script regardless of whether my name was on it, and had I done so, I would have a lot more money today. But that money would have come from the people working for me, and they needed that money, and I need to be able to look myself in the mirror. There are writers -- famous ones -- who have taken this credit and money when they could. But the people I've worked for and with do not. Good for them.

The point of all this is not to tout what a fabulously wonderful (and not as wealthy as I should be) human being I am (though clearly, I am, right folks?). It's just that I don't see any valid justification for Roddenberry's tacky ploy, regardless of what was contractually allowable.

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 12:07 PM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

Lukas and company - I'm curious, how unusual was this?

I'm thinking of Glen Larson's credit on the Battlestar Galactica theme, and I thought I saw something similar on some show of Leslie Steven's.

I'm not taking a stand on the morality of this, or whether these instances are similar or different. I'm just wondering if Roddenberry was an outlier here, or if this was a more typical practice than, well, not. And that it gets attention nearly fifty years later precisely because Star Trek was then and is still a viable part of current culture in a way that no other show from the time is.

And I've just got to say that when someone signs a contract, it means - it has to mean - that they accept the terms of the contract. You may find the terms of the contract outrageous, morally wrong, whatever - but it isn't cheating (and it certainly isn't stealing) if the other party says: ok, I'll sign it.

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 12:45 PM   
 By:   Heath   (Member)

The point of all this is not to tout what a fabulously wonderful (and not as wealthy as I should be) human being I am (though clearly, I am, right folks?). It's just that I don't see any valid justification for Roddenberry's tacky ploy, regardless of what was contractually allowable.

Indeed. What do you want to bet that Roddenberry did this on the advice of his lawyer! big grin

Producers who play the fairest tend to have the longest careers and build up plenty of good faith along the way (making money on their movies also helps).

I'm reminded of the story Scorcese told about the producer of Woodstock (I think) who said to him right off the bat that he could have this, this and this, and he would only screw him a little bit. Scorcese kind of admired that and said "At least he was upfront about screwing me". He took the deal, edited a classic and got his movie career started. The moral of this story: hmmm.... not sure. big grin

Anyway, anyone care to invent a lyric for Schifrin's Planet of The Apes TV theme? Good luck. wink

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 2:07 PM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

Wasn't the same thing done by Johnny Carson to Paul Anka who wrote the tonight show theme? Seems like an extremely sleazy thing to do, but I'm sure artists have made worse deals.

Edit: seems to be so; http://illfolks.blogspot.be/2013/04/annette-funicello-sings-tonight-show.html

But Johnny getting the co-write credit sealed the deal. It meant Anka-Carson would split the approximately $200 royalty given for EACH NIGHT'S PERFORMANCE of the song. Johnny was aware of original "Tonight Show" host Steve Allen's bonanza in having written his own theme song, "This Could Be The Start of Something Big."

As it turned out, for over 30 years, fans loved that opening minute of "The Tonight Show," and Johnny and Paul had to love the big royalty checks that ended up being worth millions. The big bucks Johnny got would later influence many, including Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, Joan Rivers and Craig Ferguson, to hum, co-write or completely write their TV theme song.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 2:30 PM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

This is how you do it...



One of David Cassidy's best bits!

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 2:35 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

doesn't JJ abrams "compose" the themes to some of his television productions?
brm

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 2:37 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

some more thiefs who claimed co -writing royalties:

elvis presley
norman petty (for Buddy Holly songs)
phil spector (Righteous brothers et. al)
brm

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 2:54 PM   
 By:   Julian K   (Member)

A lot of the Hanna-Barbera themes are co-credited to Hanna and / or Barbera (The Flintstones, for example).

I wonder if this is a similar situation to the Roddenberry / Courage one?

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2014 - 4:16 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

You need to hear a terrible lyric only once to have it forever ruin a good melody.

Yet another example of how an artist - in this case Roddenberry - can have it so together in one genre and be so completely clueless about another. And not just in terms of execution, but in overall awareness.

 
 Posted:   Apr 29, 2014 - 2:10 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

I discovered this fact way before it became common knowledge.

In the early 70's i was shopping for sheet music at G> Schirmer and came across "Theme from STAR TREK".
You can imagine my surprise upon learning there was a "lyric" to this tune!

btw Johnny Carson certainly did not earn 'MILLIONS" of dollars.

At 5 times a week the yearly gross would be $50, 000. Half that and you get $25k.
SO, he made app. $750,000 in his lifetime.

Not too shabby, either
brm

 
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