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Star Trek’s 50th: Look Forward to An Oral History Book & 100-City Symphony Tour

Three monumental franchises turned 50 within a couple of years of each other. In 2012, it was James Bond, and MGM celebrated by revisiting the back catalog for home video, licensing the character out to help shill for endless products, and releasing Skyfall. In 2013, it was Doctor Who, and the BBC doled out a half-season of new episodes, a theatrically-released and globally simulcast 50th Anniversary multi-Doctor special uniting Matt Smith and David Tennant, and a Christmas special bringing Smith’s time as the Doctor to a close. Along the way, there were canonical cameos from prior Doctors like Paul McGann and Tom Baker, a hilarious meta-fictional short movie chronicling Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy’s bumbling efforts to work their way into the 50th Anniversary special, an original TV movie about the making of the first couple of seasons of Doctor Who and plenty of other awesome ancillary materials.

Damn, Doctor Who. You made Star Trek look bad. In 2016, all Paramount has planned to celebrate Trek‘s 50th is a new movie, Star Trek Beyond. Sure, a lot of people didn’t like the last movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Beyond‘s remarkably rushed production schedule is especially discouraging. However, we are still getting a new movie in time for the anniversary, and unless you’re someone who rushed out to buy all those re-mastered James Bond Blu-Rays in 2012 the main thing MGM delivered to celebrate that franchise’s anniversary was an insanely successful movie which neatly acknowledged the franchise’s history and advanced it into the future in a way which didn’t alienate relative newcomers. That seemed to make a lot of people happy the same way a good, new Star Trek movie will next year.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…but what else are they doing? This is mother f’n Star Trek we’re talking about! This is America’s version of Doctor Who just as Indiana Jones is our James Bond (note: I know that Star Trek has transcended America and is a global phenomenon, but it is still an American-produced product just as Doctor Who is British-produced). Surely, Paramount is going to give us something more than a hastily written, somewhat rushed movie, right? Until now, there were no real signs that Paramount had anything else on tap, though.

Then this happened, straight from The Hero Complex:

A symphonic tribute to the music from the legendary sci-fi franchise, “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage,” will tour 100 North American cities next year. The concert series will debut in Florida in January, with stops scheduled throughout Canada and the U.S. through April 2016.

Presented by CineConcerts, CBS Consumer Products and Paramount Pictures, the concerts will touch on major themes from composers Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner and Leonard Rosenman, with a symphony orchestra performing live as footage from various “Star Trek” movies and TV shows is projected onto a 40-foot screen. The concerts will include music from the films “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and “Star Trek: Insurrection,” alongside selections from the soundtracks to “Star Trek: The Original Series,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager.”

That’s more like it. Gorgeous, often riveting, sometimes annoyingly tear-inducing orchestral scores have become so closely identified with Star Trek that when Enterprise used the Rod Stewart-impression pop tune “Where My Heart Will Take Me” as its theme song fans started multiple petitions to get it off the show. Some people just flat-out hated that specific song. Others rejected the mere idea of breaking from tradition and not using a Jerry Goldsmith orchestral score as the theme tune. One assumes “Where My Heart…” will not be part of “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage.”

Enterprise Cast Photo

Get your Rod Steward sound-alike outta here, Enterprise

These types of movie-score orchestral shows (e.g., “The Scores of James Horner,” “The Music of Lord of the Rings”, etc.) seem fairly common in larger cities, and it’s not dissimilar to the multiple times Doctor Who actually put together its own live shows to showcase the musical scores of its composer, Murray Gold, usually with some kind of appearance from the cast of the moment and people in Cybermen and Dalek costumes showing up to add a bit of live theater to the experience.

I have personally been listening to a lot of James Horner’s work form Wrath of Khan lately, noticing how much of it he re-used for Aliens, and really learning to appreciate Leonard Rosenman’s different, but familiar score for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. As such, “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” is tailor-made for someone like me. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no information on ticket prices, sale dates or a list of cities.

Update 2/17/16: Head here for tour dates.

In 2013, the BBC gave us that fantastic 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Book. Can we get something like for Star Trek, too? Of course we can! It’s just not technically coming to us from Paramount or CBS. In fact, the book’s very title acknowledges that it’s technically unauthorized. Co-written by Edward Gross and Free Enterprise’s Mark Altman, The 50 Year Mission: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek will be exactly what it sounds like: An oral history covering every era of Star Trek’s history, from TV to animation to film back to TV back to film.

Altman told 1701 News:

“I could not be more excited; it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that working on this book totally made me fall in love with Star Trek all over again because we were just talking with such a diverse array of people who have phenomenal stories to tell. And we have unearthed and discovered things that have never been revealed about the franchise, and about stories that are charming, and daring, and horrifying and wonderful. It’s going to be a great book.”

They interviewed nearly 500 different television and film executives, programmers, creators and stars — including every Star Trek captain. Of course, these types of books do already exist, like Mark Cushman’s unparalleled These Are the Voyages books chronicling the behind the scenes story of every episode in each season of The Original Series, or Preston Neal Jones’ Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Altman argues:

“The advantage that this book has, which is not to be overlooked, is the hindsight that people have had. It’s always been the case with original series looking back, but now that people have had a perspective on ’The Next Generation,’ ‘Voyager,’ ‘Enterprise’ … it gives them a little distance by which to critique their own work and reflect on their experiences. And I think that is what is going make this so much more interesting than any of the books that were written at the time these things were actually being produced.”

He also teases that the stuff they’ve discovered about Enterprise will surprise most readers.

So, maybe sometime next year you’ll be able to read The 50 Year Mission while waiting in line for “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” around the time the first trailer for Star Trek 3 arrives. You don’t know – it could all line up that perfectly.

Update 2/17/16: Oh, such optimism. The dates didn’t really line up like that. Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage will ends it run on May 5 in Houston.The 50 Year Mission is due out June 8. Star Trek Beyond is due out July 22. In the time since I originally wrote this article, CBS has announced it will make a new Star Trek TV series, but it won’t debut until sometime in 2017, at which point it will only be available through CBS’ streaming app which charges a monthly subscription fee.

What about you? Are you looking forward to any of the Star Trek 50th tie-ins? Can’t wait to get your hands on that dang book? Wish that Paramount/CBS would go back and re-master Star Trek: DS9 with improved special effects for Blu-Ray? Upset that I failed to reference any kind of 50th Anniversary Star Trek convention?  Or is your main concern above anything else that the next movie they make not suck?

Sources: Hero Complex, 1701 News

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About Kelly Konda (1853 Articles)
Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

7 Comments on Star Trek’s 50th: Look Forward to An Oral History Book & 100-City Symphony Tour

  1. “What about you?”

    Bit meh over any orchestras playing. I have only ever been to one of those and that was one of the John Williams ones performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and it was because they needed Imperial Stormtroopers on stage.

    I am really ashamed of this but I don’t think I have finished reading any books in the last twelve months. I have a huge collection to go through but just find myself doing other things in my spare time such as exercise, watching TV, PlayStation, etc. So I am not in any rush to get a 50th anniversary book and actually read it. 😦

    “Wish that Paramount/CBS would go back and re-master Star Trek: DS9 with improved special effects for Blu-Ray?”

    I hated DS9 and wish it died in a fire. I’d rather just get a Babylon 5 box set.

    “Upset that I failed to reference any kind of 50th Anniversary Star Trek convention?”

    I haven’t been to a con of any sort in ages. Cons epitomize the worst in capitalism and suck every last cent out of a wallet and credit card.

    “Or is your main concern above anything else that the next movie they make not suck?”

    Yep, This is the main concern! Don’t mess this one up Paramount!

    • The orchestra thing…That’s probably an individual taste thing. I personally love film scores, and have always wanted to go to an event like this. But I know other film nerds who barely even notice film scores and wouldn’t care to go see something like this.

      The book thing…When since I started this site a lot of the books I read are potential resources for list articles and that kind of thing. This book would be great for that. However, I really love oral histories for pop culture institutions, like the oral history books for snl, mtv, must see tv, etc. So, this is right up my alley. My main thing with books in general at this point is that I sometimes struggle to read a proper physical book after having grown so used to reading everything on my tablet with the Kindle app.

      Convention…I have never been to a star trek convention. Not really my thing. I think there is a big 50th anniversary con in Las Vegas next year.

      Star trek 3…ultimately, that’s my main concern. Everything else is window dressing. Make a good movie and I will be happy with the franchise’s 50th

      • elwyn5150 // March 9, 2015 at 12:55 AM //

        Yeah, music comes down to musical taste and finances etc. I do enjoy the music from soundtracks but not enough to pay money to hear it live.

        I love books but I am really ashamed that I am not finding time to read. However, 2 days ago, I bought “The Art of Alien: Isolation”, which is light on actual reading. The previous book I bought was “Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual” under the pretense that I needed it for research for my costume. I have barely started reading that. It’s also pretty dry.

        The only thing I have heard about the Las Vegas con is they managed to get Joan Collins to appear. She’s had a successful career in show biz but she was only in one episode. I wonder what sort of audience her talk/interview will get. The Star Trek/Dynasty crossover intersection on a Venn diagram would be tiny.

      • Joan Collins is going to appear at the Las Vegas con? WTF?

        http://www.treknews.net/2015/03/05/joan-collins-stlv/

        OMG, I totally forgot that she was the girl “City on the Edge of Forever.” Shame on me. How could I have forgotten that about such a classic episode?

      • elwyn5150 // March 10, 2015 at 10:08 PM //

        I don’t know. I can’t forget it for nostalgic reasons. I never bought much Star Trek stuff on VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray but the only things I owned were Time/Life edition of “City on the Edge of Forever” with “Errand of Mercy”, box sets of the first six films and the two reboot films on Blu-Ray. So I watched those VHS tapes over and over.

        Also bought and read the book about Harlan Ellison’s original script:http://www.bookdepository.com/Harlan-Ellisons-City-on-Edge-Forever-Harlan-Ellison/9781565049642

      • So, what you’re telling me is you totally hate that episode, right?

        How was the book about Ellison’s script?

      • It was a really long time since I read the book so I don’t remember the details. I feel like it was more of a case of Harlan Ellison being an angry angry man wanting to start a fight. ie Harlan Ellison being Harlan Ellison.

        It seemed like it wasn’t that much of a difference. The episode opens with something not really appropriate for 60s mainstream TV: some crewmember on the Enterprise is dealing space drugs and somebody goes crazy on it and transports to the planet and prevents Edith Keeler from dying.

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