The first Trektennial: trivia, a Star Trek II update, and an interview with Rod Roddenberry

Star Trektennial News was the second semi-official newsletter published under the guidance of Gene Roddenberry. The complete run of these publications includes:

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 13, published in early 1976.

Fans who had been without a semi-official newsletter since issue 12 of Inside Star Trek in 1969 got a new source of inside info when Star Trektennial News launched in 1976. Picking up on the numbering scheme, this was labeled issue 13 even though it was a new publication from a new editor.

The cover of Star Trektennial news issue 13

That editor was Susan Sackett, who became Gene Roddenberry’s assistant in 1974. She later served as the production assistant on The Motion Picture and the production associate on the first five seasons of The Next Generation. She also co-authored TNG’s Menage a Troi (teleplay) and The Game (story credit) and wrote three Star Trek books, all of which I own. She was also Gene Roddenberry’s personal companion and lover; she writes quite openly about their relationship in Inside Trek. That book is sometimes uncomfortably personal but it also tells of a years-long love story that obviously meant a great deal to Gene and Susan.

Back to Trektennial. It was published in early 1976 and the timing of the resurrection is no coincidence: Roddenberry had a movie to hype. Sackett told readers in the first paragraph “In case you haven’t heard, WE’RE MAKING A MOVIE!” 

She also wrote:

We want this to be YOUR Newsletter. We’ve got a lot of surprises planned for you, such as exclusive interviews with all of your favourite stars (and people behind the camera as well). We’ll have contests, prizes, games, puzzles, questions and answers, photos, even special offers available to our readers only! 

We open with a trivia question. Sort of

The newsletter promises a “Contest of the Month!” which is a nice idea but, unfortunately, the question chosen was “What do the letters N.C.C. on the hull stand for?” The answer given in issue 14 is unsatisfying. 

The movie is about to begin

The latter half of the 1970s saw a lot of excitement around Star Trek II, the planned big-screen voyage of the Enterprise. Sackett wrote a progress update in December of 1975 and it is noteworthy that at this time there was no hint that Trek’s return might instead be a TV series. Also, she gave a very optimistic movie timeline.

As this is being written (mid-December) negotiations are going smoothly, and Paramount Studios are working in conjunction with Gene Roddenberry to obtain a workable story concept. There have been several top sci-fi writers contacted, and while no one has yet been signed, we should have a script perhaps as early as February. Once the final draft of a script is accepted (and Gene will most likely supervise the writing) pre-production will then get underway. This involves the hiring of cast and crew, designing and building sets, props and costumes, planning the budget, hiring a top-notch director and so on. Since most of the sets will have to be built from scratch, this could take at least two months. Then the actual shooting of the film will begin which will probably take another 6-8 weeks minimum.

This suggests principal photography would have been completed in the summer or, at latest, the autumn of 1976. 

One to beam up!

Sackett also promised that each issue would deliver an interview in the One to beam up! column. The first of these is a fictitious chat with “The Little Bird of the Galaxy” Gene Roddenberry Jr., “affectionately known as Rod.” Born February 5, 1974, he would have been about two years old when this issue was printed. 

Page one of the One to Beam Up section of the newsletter.
Page two of the One to Beam Up section of the newsletter. This features photos of Rod Roddenberry at age two.

Your guide to the stars

The next section was a rundown of appearances and gigs of the principal cast. Entitled STARS, it told readers:

William Shatner would be appearing in “The $10,000 Pyramid” following the cancellation of Barbary Coast 

Leonard Nimoy was on a university tour, including: “January 12 — Univ. of Saskatchewan (Canada); January 13 — Univ. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; January 14 — Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada…”

Walter Koenig was “completing a screenplay that could conceivably involve all 8 actors of Star Trek! It’s not a science fiction drama, but rather one dealing with fantasy and the supernatural.”

George Takei was “considering some motion picture offers”

Nichelle Nichols “is negotiating for several motion pictures, one of which may take her to Africa for some location shooting in February! She’s also signed with 20th Century Fox records (they call her their ’21st Century Fox!’)…”

Overall, this is a solid 1970s newsletter but unfortunately Sackett decided to end it with a reprint of a piece first published in the Star Trek Action Group newsletter out of Dorset, England. Sackett calls it “A satirical look at what could happen if STAR TREK goes ‘Hollywood!’” but it is terribly unfunny.

Page one of the unfunny satirical look at the next Star Trek film.
Page two of the unfunny satirical look at the next Star Trek film.

2 responses to “The first Trektennial: trivia, a Star Trek II update, and an interview with Rod Roddenberry”

  1. I didn’t read the satirical piece (on my phone – too small) but is it terribly unfunny because it’s dated? Or is there another reason?
    Comedy seems very much of the moment. I recently tried watching a few comedy / variety shows that my parents and I enjoyed when I was a kid and they were mostly just painful, if not outright sexist/racist. They didn’t change obviously – but the world did, as well as my understanding of it.


    • It is dated but I think it was unfunny at time of writing.
      There was a Merrie Melodies cartoon in 1947 called Slick Hare that features caricatures of a bunch of Hollywood stars, including Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I think this was meant to be like that, but it just doesn’t work.
      Slick Hare is on the Casablanca Blu-ray and some of it is on YouTube:


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