Friday, July 20, 2007

Richard Burton as Captain Kirk

It's Friday, so I'm indulging in TREK, 1970s style:

Courtesy of Booksteve's Library, we can relive a 1976 issue Crawdaddy Magazine as its cover story wonders "Can Star Trek be put back together again?"

There was that time when TREK was dead during the 1970s. Occasionally, there would be rumors that the show might come back. Obviously, some of the high points were the animated series and the naming of the first space shuttle "Enterprise."

STAR TREK PHASE II was announced by Paramount in 1977. It was to be the flagship series of a new Paramount network. All of the actors, except for Leonard Nimoy, were hired. Scripts were written, sets were constructed, a special effects company was engaged. All was go.

Paramount cancelled its plans for the network. Of course, 10 years later the network did go forward and Gene Roddenberry launched STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION.

But back in 1977, rumors started that TREK would be revived as a movie. And movies, so they say, require movie stars -- not TV actors. Who is going to pay to see people they can see for free?

Of course, now, most of us do not get TV for free off the airwaves. We pay. And it doesn't bother anyone that, for instance, that guy from the old MOONLIGHTING TV show is in a big action movie or that guy who was in the NEXT GENERATION is heading the X-MEN.

Heck, the main reason that Paramount decided to do a movie is because they saw the receipts for Fox's STAR WARS and scrambled around, asking, "What do we own that's like STAR WARS?" And STAR WARS had, really, no one in the cast. Maybe Peter Cushing was the only recognizable face in it. The rest of 'em were unknowns!

Back 30 years ago, the thinking at Paramount was that there was a line between TV and movies. For a while, the rumors were that Richard Burton would play Captain Kirk. Yeah, really! Richard Burton! As a kid, I never believed it. There was only one guy to wear that orange velour costume!

There was a Save the Star Trek Cast drive assembled (if I remember correctly) by Bjo Trimble and her Star Trek Welcommittee. In the end, the cast was, of course, all reassembled. Dor one, they were cheaper than Burton. And I think that's the reason why, in an initial 1979 theatrical promo, we get to hear Orson Welles remind us that EVERYONE is back, and he lists them all and we see them on the screen. And if Welles tells you, it must be true!

But part of me would have loved to have seen a clip of Burton doing a Shatner impersonation. And who else would be in it? Anthony Quinn as McCoy? Peter Finch as Spock?

P.S. STAR TREK was originally out of Desilu Studios. Here part one, part two and part three of a color promotional film with Lucy & Desi about their studio. It's absolute fluff, but fun to watch. Looks to be taped off of someone's TV screen.

P.P. S. There is new commentary, covering things not discussed by the previous Robert Wise commentary, for STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE. You can download it and listen while watching your 2-disc collector's item STTMP DVD set. has the background and links.


Michael Minneboo said...

It would indeed have been interesting to see Richard Burton as Capt. Kirk. But luckily the producers decided to stick with the old cast. They're what made the old series great...and cheesy/camp in the first place. Seems to me that an actor like Burton would have been "heavy" as an actor to play Kirk anyway.

MG said...

Maybe Peter Cushing was the only recognizable face in it. The rest of 'em were unknowns!

I would say Alec Guinness was known.

For a while, the rumors were that Richard Burton would play Captain Kirk.

Wow. I never knew this. Thank God they didn't go that route!

Mark Anderson said...

But you can’t emphasize “Kirk”, that’s like he’s wanting me to emphasize “Walter” before “Koenig”. Come on, fellas, you’re losing your heads! I wouldn’t direct any living actor like this in Shakespeare! Will you do this, it’s impossible!