The New York Times is reporting that the unproduced script recently found for "He Walks Among Us
", that was going to be directed by the author Norman Spinrad and produced by the STAR TREK PHASE II team, has been effectively locked away by CBS.
This month, James Cawley of ST:PHASE II said, CBS asked him in an e-mail to cease and desist. CBS also contacted Mr. Spinrad, who withdrew “He Walked Among Us” from the Internet.
The network said it was now “considering opportunities to offer licensed copies of the work.”
“We fully appreciate and respect the passion and creativity of the ‘Star Trek’ fan and creative communities,” CBS said in a statement. “This is simply a case of protecting our copyrighted material and the situation has been amicably resolved.”
By all indications CBS is within its rights. In the entertainment industry the paid writer of a teleplay generally cedes the rights to the material, even if it remains unproduced.
And Mr. Cawley said: “I’m not going to do anything that might be questionable. I have such a good relationship with CBS that I can call them anytime and ask, ‘Is this a problem?’ ”
Still, in interviews fans said they were dismayed that the network had scuttled a heartfelt homage to a beloved program.
“I can understand their legal rights,” said Erik Pless, a lawyer in Green Bay, Wis. “But it strikes me as heavy-handed. No one is profiting on this.”
Other fans pointed out that “Phase II” has already produced an unused script, by David Gerrold, the author of the humorous 1967 “Star Trek” episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” In 1987 his “Blood and Fire” was shelved by “Star Trek: The Next Generation”; he reworked and directed it for “Phase II” in 2007 and never heard any objections.
“I don’t understand CBS’s thinking on this at all,” Mr. Gerrold said. “They didn’t care then. Why do they care now?”
Mr. Gerrold predicted a Trekkie backlash. “ ‘Star Trek’ fans,” he said, “are not a sleeping dragon that you want to poke.”