Litigious 'Star Trek' writer: 'It ain't about the principle, friend, it's about the MONEY! Pay me!'

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Litigious 'Star Trek' writer: 'It ain't about the principle, friend, it's about the MONEY! Pay me!'

Mon Mar 16, 2009 @ 03:21PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

H7536 Famed science fiction author Harlan Ellison is living up to a book jacket that once described him as "possibly the most contentious person on Earth."

Ellison has filed a lawsuit against CBS, Paramount, and the Writers Guild of America, claiming he hasn't been paid ancillary revenue from a "Star Trek "episode he penned called "City on the Edge of Forever," which won a Hugo Award after it aired in 1967. 

The "Trek" franchise has spawned a cottage industry of fan merchandise, from crazy masks to sex dolls. What has Ellison's goat this time is a "Crucible" trilogy of books based on themes and plotlines explored in his Star Trek episode, and surrounding merchandise, including a "talking" Christmas ornament. Ellison is also upset that the WGA has refused to get involved after multiple requests.

We haven't seen the complaint but Ellison issued a ranting press release that describes the suit, including this passage:

And please make sure to remember, at the moment some Studio mouthpiece calls me a mooch, and says I’m only pursuing this legal retribution to get into their ‘deep pockets,’ tell’m Ellison snarled back, ‘F- - - -in’-A damn skippy!’ I’m no hypocrite. It ain’t about the ‘principle,’ friend, its about the MONEY! Pay Me! Am I doing this for other writers, for Mom (still dead), and apple pie? Hell no! I’m doing it for the 35-year-long disrespect and the money!

A legend of sci-fi, or as they call it on trademark-hungry television these days, Syfy, Ellison is no stranger to picking legal fights. He's sued websites for copying his work and sued comic books for defamation. Our favorite Ellison moment, applicable to the current controversy, is this rant included in the documentary, "Dreams with Sharp Teeth," where Ellison describes the pain associated with the way Hollywood pays writers.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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