Star Trek: TNG Turned Down George R.R. Martin For The Dumbest Reason

  • Science Fiction
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TFW your struggling sci-fi show turns down GRRM for not understanding people. CBS Television Distribution

Speaking at UC San Diego’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, George R.R. Martin told the story of how Star Trek: The Next Generation turned him down for a writing job for just about the dumbest reason imaginable.

Martin appeared onstage with sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson (Player.One spoke with him about his latest novel, New York 2140). The conversation soon turned to the invisible, wavy lines erected between fantasy, science fiction and “literary” fiction. Both were of the opinion that the differences were more illusory than real, particularly when it came to anti-genre snobbery.

“It crops up in the strangest places,” Martin said. Even, it seems, in the writers’ room of sci-fi series like Star Trek: The Next Generation:

During my television career at one point, when Twilight Zone was winding down and Star Trek: The Next Generation was just gearing up, I had an interview at Star Trek: The Next Generation for a possible job as a staff writer. I remember coming into the office of this producer — who thankfully did not last long in the show (and you can see why when I tell the story). He said ‘I don’t know who you are, can you tell me your credentials?’ And I said, ‘I am just coming off Twilight Zone where I worked for a while, but before that I wrote novels and short stories. I am primarily a science fiction writer.’ And he said, ‘Oh really, well Star Trek is not a science fiction show, it is a people show.’

“Oh my god,” you can hear Robinson saying, just out of camera frame, “a people show.”

“Oh, I was fooled by the photon torpedoes and starships! I was misled,” Martin said. “So needless to say, I didn’t get that job, after making shameless fun of this idiot.”

TrekMovie believes “this idiot” to be none other than Maurice Hurley, The Next Generation showrunner for first two seasons. Hurley was significant contributor to TNG’s tumultuous takeoff, having been brought onboard by Gene Roddenberry’s loathed lawyer, Leonard Maizlish (David Gerrold, writer of TOS episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” described Maizlish as “a truly evil human being”), who created havoc on Roddenberry’s behalf until the Star Trek creator’s death in 1991. It was Hurley who dropped Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher) for Diana Muldaur, who played ship’s doctor Katherine Pulaski in TNG ’s second season (McFadden was brought back in the third, after Hurley left the show).

While Martin wasn’t yet the famous author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series (A Game of Thrones would come out nine years later, in 1996), he was already an award-winning TV and prose writer, with three Hugo Awards and two Nebula Awards to his name. But it seems he wasn’t write for Star Trek: A People Show.

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