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tropicjeff

did Star Trek kill Desilu?

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I'm reading a book I found at a thrift shop called The Fifty Year Mission. It's all about Star Trek. It mentioned that Lucy had to sell Desilu because Star Trek basically bankrupted the studio. I had never heard of that before. It also said if she could have held on through the next season all would have been well. Any basis to that? I always thought she wanted out as she didn't want to own a studio anyway.

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I heard that Star Trek was a big expense for Desilu and that they warned Paramount about it. That might have been in the Desilu book.

But I also read recently an interview Robert Osborne did with Lucy in the '70s and she said she wanted to hang onto Desilu until it became profitable again after which she would leave. She made it sound like the success of Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, etc...made that possible. I think Luvsbway posted this on Instagram.

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2 hours ago, rickylu said:

I heard that Star Trek was a big expense for Desilu and that they warned Paramount about it. That might have been in the Desilu book.

But I also read recently an interview Robert Osborne did with Lucy in the '70s and she said she wanted to hang onto Desilu until it became profitable again after which she would leave. She made it sound like the success of Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, etc...made that possible. I think Luvsbway posted this on Instagram.

Here's what I posted.

“It started when I fell heir to Desilu Studios…all people could think to ask me was, ‘What’s it like to actually own the studios where you used to work as a starlet?’ And I’d say, ‘Do you really think that when I was a stock player at RKO, I walked around saying ‘someday I’ll own all this?’ Who the hell would want to own a place like that anyway? It was the worst drag of my life. It terrified me. I was into something way over my head and I couldn’t wait to get out, but I had to hold on until the studio got back on it’s feet again; a lot of people were depending on me. Well that’s where I showed my ambition. With the help of some trustworthy people, I got Desilu going again and when I could do it properly, I got out. -article by Robert Osborne

From what I understand Lucy's lawyer said that she should sell when she did because the shows, at least Mannix and Mission Impossible were doing well but they cost a lot of money to produce. Star Trek also cost a lot but wasn't getting the ratings the others were. So she had desirable shows to entice Paramount and  I think always wanted to be able to expand into that lot. 

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Whenever the subject was brought up, Lucy admitted that she didn't like being the studio head.  She was lucky to have honest people to guide her.  So many (Debbie Reynolds, Judy Garland, Doris Day) were ripped off.  It was incredibly easy to do and get away with.   But in the 5 years she ran Desilu, it's doubtful that she devoted much time to it, what with doing her own show and all the other performing she did from 62 to 67.  When she sold the studio in 1967, Star Trek had just LIMPED through its first season.  Opposite still-top-10 Bewitched, it didn't have much of chance, but through letters from devoted fans it made it to 3 seasons (not sure the last was a full season of episodes).   WHO could have predicted that the series itself, and I'm not counting the movie versions and TV sequels, would have such a lasting appeal?  (not me..was never a big fan).

I don't understand the TV business today.  There's such a glut of product that I wonder if spending more per episode than the network pays in the hopes of recouping later is still a valid business model.  But in 1969, when Star Trek when off the air, there wasn't much for local stations to pick from, especially in color.   There was a time when a one or two season show could get a syndication sell.   Desi's Mothers In Law with its 56 episodes was still being run in LA 5 times a week in the early 70s.  (which means the entire series would repeat after 2 1/2 months).  "Guestward Ho", "Desilu Playhouse" and "Greatest Show on Earth"  were on the market well into the 60s.  (Forward thinking Desilu shot "Show" in color).  But local stations wanted half-hour shows.  Few hour-long shows did well in syndication.  So Desilu initially lost money on Star Trek as a network series?   Did the amount the network pay a studio for a series hinge on its ratings?

After two season of having no shows on the air except "The Lucy Show", Desilu hit the jackpot in 66 and 67---with Star Trek, Mission Impossible and Untouchables franchises churning out product well into the future.  As much as she griped about the responsibility, it must have been a heady experience to own all those studios she once toiled at as a rather under-appreciate stock player.   Lucy single-handedly turning Desilu around makes for good copy, but she was the first to admit that wasn't the case.   Lucy being responsible for Star Trek makes for GREAT copy and there's a little truth to that.  I wish Lucy Carmichael had done cross-overs to all the Desilu shows in 66-67.  Imagine her on Star Trek doing her "it's a moo-moo" alien!

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On 1/18/2020 at 12:50 PM, Neil said:

Whenever the subject was brought up, Lucy admitted that she didn't like being the studio head.  She was lucky to have honest people to guide her.  So many (Debbie Reynolds, Judy Garland, Doris Day) were ripped off.  It was incredibly easy to do and get away with.   But in the 5 years she ran Desilu, it's doubtful that she devoted much time to it, what with doing her own show and all the other performing she did from 62 to 67.  When she sold the studio in 1967, Star Trek had just LIMPED through its first season.  Opposite still-top-10 Bewitched, it didn't have much of chance, but through letters from devoted fans it made it to 3 seasons (not sure the last was a full season of episodes).   WHO could have predicted that the series itself, and I'm not counting the movie versions and TV sequels, would have such a lasting appeal?  (not me..was never a big fan).

I don't understand the TV business today.  There's such a glut of product that I wonder if spending more per episode than the network pays in the hopes of recouping later is still a valid business model.  But in 1969, when Star Trek when off the air, there wasn't much for local stations to pick from, especially in color.   There was a time when a one or two season show could get a syndication sell.   Desi's Mothers In Law with its 56 episodes was still being run in LA 5 times a week in the early 70s.  (which means the entire series would repeat after 2 1/2 months).  "Guestward Ho", "Desilu Playhouse" and "Greatest Show on Earth"  were on the market well into the 60s.  (Forward thinking Desilu shot "Show" in color).  But local stations wanted half-hour shows.  Few hour-long shows did well in syndication.  So Desilu initially lost money on Star Trek as a network series?   Did the amount the network pay a studio for a series hinge on its ratings?

After two season of having no shows on the air except "The Lucy Show", Desilu hit the jackpot in 66 and 67---with Star Trek, Mission Impossible and Untouchables franchises churning out product well into the future.  As much as she griped about the responsibility, it must have been a heady experience to own all those studios she once toiled at as a rather under-appreciate stock player.   Lucy single-handedly turning Desilu around makes for good copy, but she was the first to admit that wasn't the case.   Lucy being responsible for Star Trek makes for GREAT copy and there's a little truth to that.  I wish Lucy Carmichael had done cross-overs to all the Desilu shows in 66-67.  Imagine her on Star Trek doing her "it's a moo-moo" alien!

Lol! I would have loved to see Lucy on a Star Trek episode with Viv as the two green aliens. 

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