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Star Trek Producer Harve Bennett Dies, 84

Credited with breathing new life into two different Trek movie timelines

Harve Bennett was a producer many Star Trek fans didn’t know, and those who did may not have given him a lot of credit. But anyone who enjoys the Star Trek movie franchise of today pretty much should tip their hat to Bennett, who died Wednesday in Oregon. He was 84.

Bennett was a producer and a writer, who was instrumental in films such as “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.” If being a producer wasn’t enough, he also was credited for stories and even screenplays for those films, for both the good and the bad.

He would leave the Star Trek franchise ahead of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” but not before laying the groundwork that would become J.J. Abrams’ entry into the film arena — the recasting of the major characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy while sending them back to the academy was originally the proposal of Bennett ahead of the 1991 film.

Harve Fischman was born Aug. 17, 1930, in Chicago, the son of a journalist mother and a lawyer father. He would be introduced to Hollywood through “Quiz Kids,” a radio program in the 1940s and ’50s that would later become a television show.

As a young adult, he would move to Los Angeles to attend college, but during the Korean War in the 1950s he would enlist in the U.S. Army.

Once out of the military, the renamed Harve Bennett would go into television production, at first with a 1958 television movie “Now Is Tomorrow,” and later with “The Mod Squad,” running from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

His break came in 1974 when he was attached to “The Six Million Dollar Man,” as well as its spinoff, “The Bionic Woman,” in the late 1970s. That work would catch the attention of Paramount Pictures, which felt he would be a good candidate to turn the ailing Star Trek movie franchise into a new direction after the moderately successful “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979.

Bennett came into the Trek franchise not knowing anything about the show, so he sat down and watched all of the original “Star Trek” episodes. One episode that grabbed his attention was “Space Seed,” guest-starring Ricardo Montalban. He provided a potential villain he felt the previous Star Trek movie lacked. But Bennett had a hard sell — no movie had ever been made before as a sequel to a television episode.

Bennett brought in Nicholas Meyer to both write and direct, and the film that started as “Star Trek II: The Undiscovered Country” became “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

Roddenberry Productions, a co-owner of 1701News, shared the final call sheet of “Star Trek II” dated Jan. 29, 1982, on Paramount’s Stage 9.

Bennett even appeared in “Star Trek V” as an admiral who drops a call on William Shatner’s Capt. Kirk after a trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Bennett would slow down quite a bit after Star Trek, although he would work as an executive producer on “Time Trax” and later “Invasion America” through the 1990s. He would even try writing one last time, in 1992, for the television movie “Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232,” starring Charlton Heston, Richard Thomas and James Coburn.

The Emmys would give the nod to Bennett three times, finally winning in 1982 for “A Woman Called Golda.” His other nominations were for “The Mod Squad” in 1970, and “Rich Man, Poor Man” in 1976.

On the other side, Bennett also won a Razzie, for Worst Picture in 1990 for “Star Trek V.” He had also been nominated with that film for Worst Screenplay and Worst Picture of the Decade, losing out to Eddie Murphy for “Harlem Nights” and “Mommie Dearest,” respectively.

Bennett is survived by his wife, Carole, and four children.

Source: 1701News

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