LOS ANGELES (CN) – Harlan Ellison, a writer for the original “Star Trek” series, says CBS-Paramount refuses to pay him for a trilogy of recently published novels that Paramount and Simon & Schuster commissioned using story lines from Ellison’s episode.
Ellison wrote “City on the Edge of Forever,” a season-one episode of “Star Trek” in which the “Enterprise” crew travels through time, altering the path of history before righting it again. Ellison says Simon & Schuster asked writer David R. George III to write the novels using Ellison’s plot from that episode. Simon & Schuster released the novels as part of a 40th anniversary marketing campaign.
Ellison’s current lawsuit follows a long battle for royalty rights to the episode. Ellison signed a contract with Paramount’s predecessor in interest, DesiLu Studios, when he wrote the 1967 screenplay. However, DesiLu never registered its copyright of the episode, and didn’t even register the episode as having been broadcasted. After Paramount took over the rights to “Star Trek,” it registered a significantly edited copy of Ellison’s episode as having been produced in 1975. But Ellison had already registered his own copyright, using the original screenplay without editing.
Since then, Paramount issued two agreements to pay Ellison royalties for the “City on the Edge of Forever” episode. Ellison has also received part of a Writers’ Guild of America settlement with Paramount that the guild filed after Paramount authorized earlier novelizations of “Star Trek” episodes.
Now, Ellison says, Paramount is again withholding payment after licensing the rights to his “City” plot to Simon & Schuster.
Ellison wants damages, interest, accounting and costs. He is represented in Superior Court by John Carmichael.