Tribbles creator David Gerrold calls on Trek fans to support Harlan Ellison lawsuit

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

David Gerrold, screenwriter of one of original Star Trek's most popular episodes, "The Trouble with Tribbles," made multiple posts this week at coming to the defense of Harlan Ellison, who has taken some Internet heat recently due to his lawsuit against CBS Paramount over its alleged failure to pay him for the merchandising, publishing and other exploitations of "City on the Edge of Forever."

"A lot of people are repeating a lot of BS about Harlan Ellison, creating a mental image of him as some kind of cranky belligerent dwarf on a rampage," wrote Gerrold. "That's just not true. I know Harlan, I've known him for over forty years. He's a passionate man. He gave me one of the character references I needed when I adopted my son. He's also set a standard for writers throughout the field to aspire to. And in all the time I've known him, I've watched him continually educate himself and grow, not only as a storyteller, but also as a human being. He does not deserve one-tenth of the BS that people spread about him."

Gerrold points out that Ellison is fighting not just for himself, but on behalf of all screenwriters who created concepts which were later exploited by others.

"Harlan Ellison isn't the only writer who is affected by this," he wrote. "Other Star Trek writers like DC Fontana (who wrote more episodes of the original series than anyone else and who created the characters of Sarek and Amanda) will also benefit. It is also likely that writers who worked on other series will benefit from the precedent.

"Here's an example a little closer to home. The scriptwriters of the DS9 episode 'Trials and Tribble-ations' will receive residuals in perpetuity every time that episode earns money. The scriptwriter who created the tribbles receives nothing for that reuse of his work. Is this fair? If you go by the letter of the contract, it's legal. But fair? You decide.

"While I appreciate that everybody has an opinion on this, what's really happening here is that the contracts of the Writers Guild have not kept up with the changing technology of entertainment delivery. Harlan Ellison's lawsuit is a direct challenge to the status quo, but it is also a declaration that those who toil in the factories of Hollywood should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labors."

For more of Gerrold's thoughts on the Ellison lawsuit, check out comments numbered 222, 225 and 287 at