If Lawsuits Were Decided by Press Releases, This Star Trek Writer Should Totally Win

The writer Harlan Ellison is suing CBS for the only reason anybody sues anybody else, only he's being honest about it: "It ain't about the 'principle,' friend, it's about the money! Pay me!"

Ellison, a legend in the world of science fiction—or is it syence fyction now?—wrote a Star Trek episode called "City on the Edge of Forever" in 1967 that starred Joan Collins and won a Hugo Award. CBS paid him for writing it and accounted residuals to him per the Writers Guild contract. But it didn't, according to Ellison, pay him for or even notify him about a whole bunch of other ancillary ways the network made money off the episode, including a three-book series based on it and a "talking Christmas ornament" that many a lonely Trekkie purchased for companionship during Earth Winter.

"[CBS's] Paramount has earned millions exploiting the 'City' teleplay since it was aired in 1967," the suit says. "Yet Paramount has not accounted to Ellison or paid him for such exploitations as it is required to do...."

In a press release, Ellison explained as clearly as he could that he really wants his damn money, adding, "I'm doing it for the 35-year-long disrespect and the money!"

Ellison is also suing the Writers Guild for allegedly dragging its feet in representing him; Ellison says the Guild: "falsely suggesed that Ellison had verbally withdrawn his claim."