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Feb 28, 2016 5:41 EST

A Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay – A full-cast audiobook of the original Star Trek episode “The City on The Edge of Forever” by Harlan Ellison and all the controversy.

iCrowdNewswire - Feb 28, 2016

On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the launching of Star Trek – the Original Series, we want to make the FIRST-TIME-EVER, 6-hour AUDIOBOOK, full-cast version of Harlan Ellison’s book THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER.

To clarify, this book contains Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay; NOT the one eventually filmed. This is the episode which won the Writers’ Guild Award for best dramatic hour-long script. The filmed teleplay also won Harlan a Hugo Award. The book also contains Harlan’s Essay on the controversy backstory, and several tributes from his colleagues.

Harlan Ellison has published a book, which contains his original script along with an introductory essay giving his side of the controversy. This project will bring to the public that essay, in Harlan’s own voice, plus a multi-voice enactment of the teleplay, along with two re-written scenes in an audiobook format. Harlan has entrusted this book to Skyboat for Audio Production.

  • Harlan’s INTRODUCTORY ESSAY – 80 pages 
  • First Treatment, 21 March 1966
  • Second Treatment, 13 May 1966 
  • The WGA-winning Teleplay (Full-Cast) 
  • 2nd Revised Final Draft PROLOGUE & ACT ONE, 1 December 1966 
  • AFTERWORDS written by Peter David, D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig, Leonard Nimoy, Melinda Snodgrass and George Takei

To give voice to this controversial episode in Star Trek history, we will include his original, WGA Award winning teleplay – performed by (among others to yet be announced):

You will also hear the voices of:

  • Actor J. Paul Boehmer, recurring, multi-character player on Star Trek® TV shows: Voyager,Deep Space Nine and Enterprise
  • Velvet-voiced actor Richard McGonagle, was on Star Trek® The Next Generation as Dr. Ja’Dar in the episode “New Ground,” and as Commander Pete Harkins in episodes “Inside Man” & “Pathfinder”
  • David Gerrold, Hugo and Nebula Award winning author and screenwriter of the “Trouble with Tribbles”
  • Iconic television scriptwriter and story editor D.C. Fontana who penned Star Trek® The Original Series (TOS) episodes “That Which Survives” and “The Way to Eden”
  • Richard Gilliland, Captain Stan Cotter on TV series 24
  • Impressionist and stand-up comedian Jim Meskimen, from Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  • Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award winner Orson Scott Card 
  • Screen Actors Guild® and Academy Award® nominee Robert Forster 

In addition, Harlan Ellison has narrated his essay describing the before, during, and after of the controversy surrounding the episode, which has been voted as the most beloved episode of the Star Trek® series. It also includes:

  • Harlan’s rewrite of the Prologue and Act One to eliminate the controversial “Jewels of Sound” drug-dealing elements that the censors and powers-that-were objected to at the time,
  • plus two screenplay treatments written by Harlan,
  • and tribute essays from authors and colleagues who-were-there.

This is Stefan, jumping in to add a personal word.

In case you didn’t know, I’ve been working with Harlan for more than two decades as his primary audio producer. But more than that, Harlan has been a true and loyal friend to me all these years, and I’ve always known a close bond to him personally. I told him just recently that I felt toward him as I might toward a younger brother; this despite his being older than I. Maybe it’s because I’m taller. Whatever the cause (past lives?), I feel a great responsibility, even a mission perhaps, to bring more of his thousands of writings to the public eye. 

Along creative lines, most recently, through Skyboat and with the active involvement of Blackstone Audio, I’ve licensed, produced and published audiobooks of his earliest stories in a new edition of ELLISON WONDERLAND, as well as his early novels: the gritty Hell’s Kitchen gang saga, WEB OF THE CITY and his peek at the dark underside of the 50s starmaker music industry, SPIDER KISS. I also narrated those novels, and the experience was transformational. 

In discussion first with Gabrielle, and then with Harlan, the next venture seemed obvious: exploring Harlan’s dramatic gifts by tackling a teleplay or two. After all, he’d been a “Broadway Baby,” performing on The Great White Way in more than one top musical, and he sure as hell had the elements of great dialogue down by the time he’d written his first five or fewer stories. The logical choice was to begin with his teleplay of Star Trek’s original series’ most popular (and most controversial) episode, THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER. I’d seen the episode as aired, of course, more than once, but until fairly recently I hadn’t read Harlan’s original script, the one NOT produced and telecast. Wow! Knocked my socks off. Add to that, the “controversy” around it for a little extra spice, and there was no question in my mind that this recording had to happen. 

This original teleplay is a masterpiece, balancing the primal dialectics between passion and reason, love and duty, the moment and forever. It screams to be heard, at the very least. No wonder it won the Writer’s Guild Award for 1966. Furthermore, the time, for us, is right. Not only is this the 50th anniversary of the original series, it’s also a moment when we have a unique mix of talent and resources available to us for this audiobook. Even providing Harlan a chance to voice again, this time in his spoken tones, his take on the controversy around the script and its various rewrites that is still raging in some quarters. 

Once upon a time, a master science fiction writer, Harlan Ellison, penned a script for THE innovative science fiction TV series of its time, Star Trek, called “The City on The Edge of Forever.” The penultimate episode of the first season is one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of the series and was awarded the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. The original teleplay won the annual Writers’ Guild of America Award for best dramatic hour-long script, but what eventually aired had been significantly edited and changed – or as Harlan termed it, eviscerated.  The handling of the script by Roddenberry and the writing staff of Star Trek included significant changes, both in character and plot, which has led to years of controversy concerning this much beloved and heralded Star Trek episode.

Elements that differ from the TV version:

  • The Jewels of Sound
  • The Orator Speech on immigration
  • The villains Beckwith and LeBeque
  • The Cook
  • The Trooper, veteran of World War I
  • Dr. McCoy is not in the episode; only in the rewrite
  • Janice Rand makes a bold move
  • keva juice
  • The song “Please”

The original opening sequences contain the “Jewels of Sound” subplot that was so controversial at the time, and eventually was eradicated from the teleplay altogether. We have several characters in this version that did not appear in the final: the villains Beckwith and LeBeque, the iconic Trooper (the Verdun veteran) and a delightfully surly Cook.

We have decided to narrate all the teleplay directions; being that Harlan wrote them, they are full of wit and irony; amusing to both industry-insiders and fans. The teleplay is divided into a Prologue, four Acts and an Epilogue, to conform to the television template of the 1960s. We have cast a different reader for each section (LeVar will read the Prologue teleplay directions, David Gerrold will read Act One’s teleplay directions, and so on.) 

We’ve begun recording. There is an energy to the narrators’ performances as they bring their voices to this wonderful piece of science fiction. You will hear the respect and commitment and passion in their readings of this unique piece of Star Trek History. As the Kickstarter progresses, I will be updating backers frequently on the entire recording process.

Visuals are an important part of my genetic heritage, being my father’s daughter. I knew we needed spectacular visuals from a spectacular artist.

We are thrilled that 2015 Hugo award winning artist Elizabeth Leggett is designing the stunning visuals.  She has designed the “HARLAN’S CITY” image above, and also, below,  “A FULL-CAST LIST” design to which we will add the names of the cast.

The Full-Cast Preliminary Poster Design by Hugo Winner Elizabeth Leggett
The Full-Cast Preliminary Poster Design by Hugo Winner Elizabeth Leggett

We are mid-stream in the recording of this project and we are asking for the $15,000 to cover the recording costs, the cast, studios, manufacturing and distribution, marketing and delivery costs to bring this once-in-a-lifetime project to the world (see budget breakdown below).

Our primary focus is on the Audiobook itself – which you can receive as a download sooner, and/or the physical product a bit later.

  • The Digital Download available May 2016
  • The 50th Anniversary Physical CD product ships August 2016

PLUS, we have posters of the amazing artwork by Elizabeth Leggett and some other pretty cool offerings that we think will tickle your fancy.

We have some possibilities in the mix that have not yet fully materialized, but we’ll be sure to alert you when they’re on board. Scotty, what are you waiting for?!? Beam them up!

We are Skyboat Media, a Hugo and Grammy Award winning Audiobook Publisher and Production Company located in Los Angeles. Skyboat Media is headed up by Stefan Rudnicki and Gabrielle de Cuir.

Stefan Rudnicki

Named the Golden Voice of Science Fiction by Audiofile Magazine, Stefan Rudnicki has produced over 3000 audiobooks and voiced over 500. He is the voice of Ender Wiggin in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game Series, and Col. Graff in the full-cast version Ender’s Game Alive. He is Matt Helm® in Donald Hamilton’s series, and Quarry in Max Allan Collins’ novels. 

Gabrielle de Cuir

Gabrielle de Cuir is a renowned velvet-glove, actor’s-director who was the directorial mastermind behind such massive audiobook projects as Ender’s Game Alive, THE HELP, the King James Version of the Bible, and Thirty Years of Treason HUAC trials by Eric Bentley. She has directed many high-profile readers and authors including Anne Hathaway, Samuel L. Jackson, Deepak Chopra, Jane Fonda, Wil Wheaton and LeVar Burton.

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO

We care about science fiction story-telling on audio and we care about our authors.

Together, we co-produce Lightspeed Magazine’s podcasts for John Joseph Adams and Christie Yant. In addition, we’ve produced over 500 children’s books for LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow App.

We have produced the bulk of Harlan’s work on audio, and feel that his teleplay has historical value and gives perspective in this 50th celebration of the most wonderful TV series: Star Trek.

We’re all about history and legacies in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy.

This is our personal legacy. To unearth the best in science fiction and fantasy and bring them to you in the highest possible quality in terms of casting, research, and production quality. In an industry trend which sometimes leads to less-than-optimal casting and production values, we stubbornly fight to maintain the integrity of this art form. Our greatest reward is to make your soul fly and soar with delight, terror, fantastical beings, and whatever serendipity the author truly intends.

 Status of the Project:

The project is 60% recorded. The money from this KickStarter fundraising will enable the completion of the recording, the mixing and mastering, and the final production of the product in multiple formats (download and CD). Editor extraordinaire Ken Barton of PhaseShift AV in the UK, has begun the edit. Skyboat Media intends to have a presence at the 50th Anniversary Convention in Las Vegas, including a live reading of the teleplay.

Contact Information:

Skyboat Media, Inc.

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