Harlan Ellison is suing Paramount Pictures for his share of revenues from merchandising spinoffs — everything from a series of Star Trek novels to a Christmas orament — drawn from his teleplay for “City on the Edge of Forever,” arguably the best episode of the original Trek series. He’s also suing the Writers Guild of America for failing to make Paramount live up to its contractual agreements on the issue. In the case of the WGA, he’s only asking for a dollar in damages — the purpose of naming the guild is to get a legal judgment on whether it was living up to its mission of watching writers’ backs in Hollywood.
The press release announcing the suit is vintage Ellison:
“The arrogance, the pompous dismissive imperial manner of those who ‘have more important things to worry about,’ who’ll have their assistant get back to you, who don’t actually read or create, who merely ‘take’ meetings, and shuffle papers – much of which is paper money denied to those who actually did the manual labor of creating those dreams – they refuse even to notice…until you jam a Federal lawsuit in their eye. To hell with all that obfuscation and phony flag-waving: they got my money. Pay me and pay off all the other writers from whom you’ve made hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars…from OUR labors…just so you can float your fat asses in warm Bahamian waters. “The Trek fans who know my City screenplay understand just exactly why I’m bare-fangs-of-Adamantium about this.”
When Mr. Ellison calmed down, he continued, soberly, “They maintain fortresses staffed and insulated with corporate and legal Black Legions whose ability to speak fluent bullshit is the ramadoola of gyrating, gibbering numbers via which they cling to every dollar. And when you aren’t getting paid for the marvels you helped bring forth — fine, hard, careful artifacts that are making others pig-rich — at some point any sane person knows he has three, and only three choices: the first is to sit around dinner parties and ceaselessly whine over your sushi about how they screwed you, boo hoo, but you can’t beef about it Out There in the World or they’ll blacklist you; the second is to pick up an Uzi somewhere, crash your SUV through a Studio gate, and just run amok; and the third, last, choice is this one – to act like an adult, to take ‘em on in Federal Court and to make the greedy, amoral bastards blink blood out of their eyes. What they do is tantamount to common street-thug robbery… just add the pig-rich Madoff-style smoothyguts attorneys.
Talk about a morning tonic.