Inside Star Trek issue 1: selling IDIC and dumpster diving for set pieces

Inside Star Trek was a semi-official newsletter, launched in 1968 under the guidance of Gene Roddenberry. The staff had access to the actors, production crew and sets.

I own the complete run:

Issues 1 to 12: Inside Star Trek, edited by Ruth Berman

Issues 13 to 24: renamed Star Trektennial News, edited by Susan Sackett

Issues 25 to 31: again called Inside Star Trek, edited by Virginia Yable

Here are highlights from issue 1, published July 1968.

Day one set visit

The inaugural issue opens with a description guaranteed to make any fan jealous: “First week of filming on the third season of Star Trek: dust covers are pulled off the bridge…between ‘takes’ mammoth electric fans fight the early summer heat…the warning bell sounds, the fans are shut off, and powerful arc lights shine down on the sets.”

The cover of Inside Star Trek , issue 1, with a drawing of Kirk and Spock fighting an alien.

Editor Ruth Berman was on set for the filming of The Last Gunfight, later renamed Spectre of the Gun. Surprisingly, after a few paragraphs describing the shooting stage and the many technicians present, Burman ends the article without giving us more from the set.

Selling IDIC

Gene Roddenberry created the Vulcan pendant Spock wore in Is There in Truth No Beauty? because he wanted to sell it to fans. It was a commercial, rather than a creative, decision. Leonard Nimoy wrote in I am Spock:

The term (IDIC) stands for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations…and I was all in favor of the philosophy…but not the fact that Gene wanted me to wear the medallion because he wanted to sell them through his mail-order business Lincoln Enterprises.

A scene from the Star Trek episode Is There in Truth No Beauty?, showing Spock wearing the Vulcan IDIC medallion.

Nimoy and William Shatner even staged a short walk-out protest during filming, but eventually Roddenberry got his way.

Berman and Roddenberry then printed a made-up story in the fanzine to push medallion sales. “When Gene Roddenberry…wants to give a friend a special present, it sometimes turns out to be a hand-crafted piece of jewelery. In the case of Leonard Nimoy, Roddenberry decided that a pendant with a special Vulcan design would be the right gift.” To drive home the pitch, the newsletter asks “Would you like an idic of your own? If enough interest is shown, replicas of Leonard Nimoy’s idic will be added to our catalog.” News of that “special present” would have been a complete surprise to Nimoy.

An excerpt from Inside Star Trek. It is an ad asking readers if they would be interested in purchasing a Vulcan IDIC pendant.

Roddenberry first tried to get the pendant into Spock’s Brain. From a Roddenberry memo to producer Fred Freiberger:

Dear Freddie:

Suggest that the Vulcan medallion can be handled in the epilogue of “SPOCK’S BRAIN” in the following manner:

Epilogue opens with Uhura (and possible appropriate others) making a presentation to Spock of a boxed item from the junior officers of the vessel, which they have had made up to show their delight that Spock has been brought back to life.

Chekov is proud that his research on it was correct and Spock admits it is perfectly executed… Prompted by the fact that Chekov’s clever research has already revealed much about it, Spock begins to explain some of the symbology. Spock, genuinely moved by the gift and by certain relationships of it to the story we have just seen, becomes more and more articulate and is finally chattering away like a human.

We can have some humor here as Kirk, McCoy and Scotty try to break in with ship’s business, and for the first time in our series, Spock won’t let anyone get a word in edgewise. This leads to your suggested final line of McCoy’s wishing he had not connected Spock’s mouth.

Spock’s long exposition was meant to entice buyers, but the memo was sent July 10, 1968, mid-way through filming, and it was too late to add this scene. This explains why the IDIC appeared in Is There in Truth No Beauty? as it filmed directly after Spock’s Brain.

On Kirk’s bed with the set decorator

A photo of DC Fontana
DC Fontana, from TrekCore

D.C. Fontana interviewed set decorator John Dwyer while the two were “seated comfortably on Captains Kirk’s bed on stage 9,” but despite the cozy setting the article is fairly dry. This is surprising considering Fontana is a writer and Dwyer must have had a hundred great stories. The piece’s best bit is about scavenging in the garbage for set pieces:

We do a lot of our wall decorations from the trash bins around the lot. We look in every one as we go by, and in maybe every fifth one we find something appealing that is being thrown away. So we take it, repaint it or add things to it, and use it… We can’t go out and have things built, because the cost factor is just prohibitive.  

Pitch to journalists: be fair

An excerpt from Inside Star Trek. It is a list of Star Trek stars and production crew in attendance at a media lunch in 1968.

On June 22, 1968, Gene Roddenberry addressed a lunch crowd of entertainment journalists. He was joined by the entire main cast plus Majel Barrett, third-season producer Fred Freiberger, co-producer Bob Justman and costume designer Bill Theiss. Roddenberry’s extolled the virtues of his show, saying:

We are proud that this is the only television program today saying to a worried world that there is a tomorrow. More, we are saying that tomorrow need not be computerized and de-humanized. It is within our ability to make tomorrow a more richly rewarding existence than yesterday ever was.

He also asks the audience to treat the show fairly:

Like us or not, give us rave reviews or rip us apart — do us the favor of accepting that we work just as you do. Within our own limitations, and within the limitations of our medium, when we put our name on the final product it is the best we have been able to do at that time. Bad or good, and it will most probably be both, you may be certain that we make our show with pride.

Shatner has always been busy

Berman asked William Shatner what he does outside of Star Trek. His list was extensive: hunting with a bow, getting a pilot’s licence, filming the movies The White Comanche and The Revolution of Antonio de Leon, recording The Transformed Man for Decca Records, appearing on game shows including You Don’t Say, and starring in the play The Hyphen. The strangest quote was about that game show: “I tried to be as funny as possible, because I knew I was a deadhead. Still, it was amusing, it was fun to play.”

Inside Star Trek is an invaluable source of early Star Trek voices. I’ll cover each issue.

Click here to read other articles in this series.

2 responses to “Inside Star Trek issue 1: selling IDIC and dumpster diving for set pieces”

  1. I love these behind the scenes moments with cast, crew, journalists, etc… You know these people are just working on set. It’s a job, everyone is collecting a paycheck. However, you also know down deep that everyone is part of something bigger. Knowing now how big this phenomenon has grown. It’s just so awesome to be a part of it.


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