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The Star Trek 3 That Wouldn’t Be

Yesterday I said I’d go into a story tomorrow about stumbling across the writing team of Star Trek 3. Well today is yesterday’s tomorrow, so here is that story!

In October of that year, my wife Tina and I took a vacation to England for a week. We were big Downton Abby fans, and the location that stood in for the Abby on the show, Highclere Castle, was giving tours. So even though Tina was four months pregnant, this was an opportunity we didn’t want to miss.

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In addition to meeting Downton Abby in person, we attended the GI Joe/Transformers convention Roll Out Role Call (where I made contacts at Boss Fight Studios, who I would eventually work with on a Blind Ferret project), saw some friends, visited the Shakespeare Theatre, went to the Harry Potter Experience, and hit some English tourist attractions. Our scheduled was pretty tightly packed, plus we had one item on our To Do list that didn’t have a specific time: Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea is a sit down buffet of tiny sandwiches and desserts, and teas, usually in a fancy venue. We had a few prospective times and locations for our Afternoon Tea, but they didn’t pan out. Finally, on our last full day of vacation, we found a way to fit it into our schedule.

The tea room was classic English style, and the customer base was almost entirely older people dressed up for the occasion and chatting quietly.

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There was an exception. In the back area, separated by a partial wall, was a table of three younger, louder Americans.

“And then Mr Spock says something like ‘If you try to find me, I’ll fucking kill you,’” one of the Americans shouted.

Odd, I thought. Anyone who is that passionate about Star Trek should know that’s not something Spock would ever say. F-bombs are illogical.

I started eavesdropping on them, which they made exceptionally easy to do. I started hearing screenwriting lingo peppered throughout their conversation, and mentions of Paramount wanting a complete rewrite, but not giving much direction or feedback.

I took out my phone and wrote a note in my notepad that I thought these were the Star Trek 3 writers, and they were breaking a new story. Then I took the following notes quickly and sloppily. Here are those notes.

The Enterprise crew goes rogue.
Kirk with a beard. Spock with weird hair for the trailer. [We want people watching the trailer to think] “What the hell is going on?”
This is about Vulcan secrets, the Vulcan Pentagon papers.
Starts with Space ISIS cutting off Sarek’s ear and going full Reservoir Dogs.
The villain can be The Joker, he’s fun. “We’re making a movie, we can make art later.”

Not in the notes: Spock goes missing because of the Vulcan Pentagon papers, Starfleet tells Kirk to leave him so Kirk tells Starfleet “I’m going wrong!” He and the rest of the crew get a message from Spock that says “I heard you’re going rogue. If you try to find me, I’ll fucking kill you!” Of course Kirk is all “He wouldn’t have said that unless he really needed us” and he tracks Spock down. Spock is all “you illogical bastards, but since you’re here…” and he explains the thing he needs to track down to exonerate Vulcans. The meeting ended confident that they were about two fifths of the way through the story, and that next they needed to tie Joker and his Space Isis into the story.

As they packed up, I considered what to do with these notes. Tell
friends? Talk about it on my podcasts? Just keep this one between me and Tina?

The man who lead the meeting was last to leave. As he passed my table, we made eye contact and he smiled and nodded. So I said “I gotta ask, how much trouble do you get in if anything I just heard ends up online?” He thought about it for a second and then said “Leak away.” This ended up being producer Roberto Orci.

We chatted about the story I’d heard afterwards and he even took down Tina and my names. Sadly, we weren’t thanked in the credits, which probably would have been the case even if Star Trek 3 hadn’t been rewritten at least one other time between that meeting and the 2016 release of Star Trek Beyond. Either way, as a longtime Star Trek fan, it was fun to be a fly on the wall of the creative process behind a Star Trek movie.