It’s hard to see the connection between Lucille Ball and “Star Trek.” But oddly enough, there is one. And a major one at that.
Lucille Ball is one of the most popular actresses of her generation. She starred in one of the most popular sitcoms alongside her husband called “I Love Lucy.” In the show, she schemes, often alongside her best friend Ethel, while her husband is away at work.
Lucille Ball accomplished a lot during her outstanding Hollywood career. In fact, she even managed to save an entire cult-classic universe, allowing it to grow insanely popular over the years.
So how did the comedic mastermind behind “I Love Lucy” somehow save the science fiction cult classic, “Star Trek,” which was on TV a decade later?
Lucy Saves ‘Star Trek’
The phrase “Lucy Saves ‘Star Trek'” sounds like it should be the title of an episode of “I Love Lucy.”
However, Ball was adamant on making sure that executives did not drop the ball on creating “Star Trek.”
According to an article from Entertainment Weekly, Ball was the mastermind behind Desilu Productions. She even bought the share that Desi Arnaz owned once they got divorced. It was one of the largest independent production companies at the time. The production company was behind shows like “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.”
A man named Herbert Solow was hired to find new potential shows for the studio to take under its wing. One of which was “Star Trek,” created by Gene Roddenberry.
CBS, Ball’s longtime network, said no to the show. They then took it to NBC where a pilot was made. The pilot itself was widely expensive. According to IMDb, the pilot episode called “The Cage” was actually the most expensive episode from the original series. NBC spent $630,000 on just this episode.
Lucille Ball Continues to Persist
After NBC rejected “The Cage,” Lucille Ball helped finance a second episode for the show. She continuously overruled her board of directors to keep giving this sci-fi show a shot. Her desperation to see the show reach viewers was almost strange considering the content of the show was quite different from what the network had released before.
However, “Star Trek” is now one of the biggest sci-fi franchises. There have been a number of both TV shows and movies made in the universe.
“If it were not for Lucy, there would be no Star Trek today,” former studio executive Ed Holly said, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Ball sold her studio to Paramount Pictures a year into “Star Trek” being on air. Now it’s a part of CBS Television Studios.
Entertainment Weekly dedicated an entire 2016 issue to the legacy of “Star Trek.” It also discusses the evolution and creation of the legendary series. You can buy it on Amazon.
‘Star Trek’ Universe Now
There is an overwhelming number of “Star Trek” remakes and productions that have existed over the years. Lucille Ball really only helped with the original.
The original series was from 1966 to 1969. After that, a new animated series was created from 1973 to 1974. The very popular “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was on from 1987 to 1994.
There were several other television spin-offs of the show leading up to “Star Trek: Discovery.” It started in 2017.
As for films, there have been a number of films that have come out over the years since 1979. The most recent was “Beyond.”
In regard to an upcoming film, everything seems to be up in the air. Nothing seems official yet, especially considering the pandemic that has caused everything in Hollywood to pause.
According to Variety, Paramount Pictures have decided to pause on making the film. They had originally hired Noah Hawley to write and direct the new movie. The studio was also making a “Star Trek” movie with Quentin Tarantino producing and Mark L. Smith writing the movie.
The original project from Hawley would have seen the return of the original cast like Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, and Zachary Quinto. Nothing is clear right now, but some fans are uneasy about Tarantino, known for his extreme and often bluntly violent films, taking over the treasured universe.