Saturday, March 07, 2015

Harve Bennett RIP

Harve Bennett RIP
Harve Bennett is the man that saved Star Trek from its own creator. Gene made an over-budgeted mess of a movie in the form of Star Trek The Motion Picture. Rewrites and production problems made the first movie an unpleasant place to work for everyone. After Gene was demoted/fired, Bennett was chosen to take control of the movie franchise. And, he did his homework by watching all the TOS episodes. 
  Side note: Gene and Bennett supposedly had an encounter during TOS's original run. Gene kind of mistreated Bennett because he saw Bennett as being part of the studio/network 'evil ' group. Kind of fitting that Bennett took over the franchise after TMP isn't it?
Bennett streamlined everything and brought Trek 2 in under 11 million dollars. Gene's first film was over-budgeted to 46 million due to re-shoots and bringing in another FX team after firing the first one. Bennett re-used many sets and shots from the first movie to bring costs down. He also brought in George Lucas' ILM to do the effects shots. ILM was in its prime by the time Trek 2 rolled around and they busted their asses with some amazing action shots. The Enterprise looked darker and sleeker than in the first movie. Bennett helped foster a relationship with ILM that is just as important today as it was back then. That meant Star Wars people were working on Star Trek movies.
Bennett brought in Nicholas Meyer to help with the writing and Meyer then took over the as the director. There was a bit of a tug of war with the ending to part 2 and some discussion about Meyer's cut on trek 2 and Bennett, but they had a great relationship. Despite what they say, there was some considerable side things cut out ST2 that aren't ever mentioned. That's for another discussion and blog post.
Things went smoothly with Nimoy in the director's chair for ST3. Plus, I believe it was Bennett's decision to make the Klingons the enemies from the Romulans in the early drafts. Things got a bit heated between Nimoy and Bennett on the set of ST4. I heard reports that Nimoy felt Bennett was interfering a little bit too much and banned him from location shoots. And, I am not sure how much influence he had on Star Trek V other than the appearance as the Admiral. He was listed as a producer. 
After the creative and box office failure of STV, he wanted to bring trek back to its roots with a Star Fleet Academy movie called Star Trek: The First Adventure. It would be about a young Kirk and Spock meeting for the first time. That would mean the roles would have been recast with younger actors and that upset the original cast. They rebelled with strong support by Gene (sticking his nose in) and the studio rejected the whole project for Star Trek VI.
From Memory Alpha, ((Roddenberry, who stated in a Cinefantastique interview that "I didn't like it. Who was going to cast the new Kirk and Spock? No one has ever cast a Trek character besides me that's worked. Braggadocio or whatever, that is the history of Trek. It wasn't good. Some of it was like Police Academy. You could hardly do this without the magic of a group of characters tailored for Star Trek, which this was not." ))
And, I think that was Gene's way of getting back at Harve who made a better Trek than him. I also find it funny that Gene would later be displeased and hostile toward Star Trek VI too, probably more so.
From Memory Alpha, ((Bennett ultimately quit the studio when he lost, turning down the offer to produce Paramount's version of Star Trek VI. "It wasn't easy to walk away from that, but if your heart is not in something and you've earned the right not to have to do things that cause you pain, then you don't do them." He maintains that the supporting cast was entirely accountable for the film's demise, however recognizing that "their jobs and livelihoods were jeopardized." ))
Harve left the franchise helped rebuild behind and they made ST6 without him. Some of the cast claimed he was fired, but others, including himself, say he left. I always felt kind of bad about that, but that's studio politics. As I said before, there was some tension between the cast and Bennett, but that doesn't take away from his achievements.
Nimoy would basically take his place as the leading producer for ST6 and did a good job with that film. Nimoy took the blueprint of Trek 2-4 and grafted it over ST6 (Smaller budget and using ILM again).
When the reboot happened, he had this to say about it. From, ((I did see it. I’m not the audience for that. Rapid cuts. Explosions. Gore for the sake of gore. Either that makes me a dinosaur or there’s a generational problem, but that’s not J.J.’s fault.  ))
That's a good statement because it doesn't really put down JJ's work. It says it doesn't speak to him because he's old.
I am really upset about his death, because I feel Bennett was part of that group of writers that felt the plot and character was important over the bigger message. Let the plot and characters take priority over the grand message of your story and let the message grow out of the story organically. The TV guys would take TNG in that direction as well once Gene's influence started to wane.
While some of the cast did not like Bennett, because they were loyal to Gene, he was an important part of trek history. He actually saved Trek from the itself (IE Gene). I only wished I had that much of a body work to leave behind.  
He will be missed.
Side Note: Eddie Murphy was intended to have a role in STIV. Look it up. 

No comments:

Blog Information Profile for Semaj47