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`STAR TREK' CREATOR'S FIRST WIFE DENIED PROFITS FROM SHOW SPINOFFS AFTER DIVORCE.

Byline: Bob Egelko Associated Press

``Star Trek'' creator Gene Roddenberry's first wife, who sought profits from the ``Next Generation'' and ``Deep Space Nine'' series that aired after their divorce, lost a state Supreme Court appeal Wednesday.

None of the justices voted to grant a hearing on Eileen Roddenberry's appeal of a lower-court ruling that said she was entitled only to a share of the profits of the original ``Star Trek,'' and not of any then-unconceived spinoff series, movies or products.

The appellate ruling, now final, is a multimillion-dollar victory for Roddenberry's estate, administered by his widow, actress Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who married within days of his 1969 divorce. He died in 1991.

The exact amount affected is not clear but continues to grow as the programs air, Kent Richland, a lawyer for the estate, said at the time of the appellate ruling. He said the amount sought by Eileen Roddenberry was about $30 million as of last year, of which revenue from ``Star Trek: The Next Generation'' was the largest single component.

Eileen Roddenberry had received $13.8 million as of March 1994 as her share of profits from the original ``Star Trek'' series, payments not affected by the ruling, said the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

When Eileen and Gene Roddenberry divorced in 1969, ``Star Trek'' had just been canceled by NBC after finishing last in its time slot for each of its three seasons and amassing a $3 million production deficit, which later grew to $5 million. There were plans to syndicate the show for reruns, but no plans for further TV shows or movies, the appellate court said.

As part of the divorce settlement, Eileen Roddenberry was granted half of the couple's ``future profit participation income'' in ``Star Trek.'' She also got other marital property and alimony.

The subsequent ``Star Trek'' revival led to a successful animation series, six movies, and the ``Next Generation'' series in 1987, ``Deep Space Nine'' in 1993 and ``Star Trek: Voyager'' last year.

Eileen Roddenberry's suit, filed in 1987 during a dispute over payments, were later expanded to seek half her late husband's share of all Star Trek-related profits.

The Los Angeles Superior Court case was assigned to Macklin Fleming, a retired appeals court justice. He ruled that ``profit participation income'' did not include movies, animation or products, but encompassed the follow-up television series as ``continuations'' of the original program.

With that decision, Fleming ``truly embarked on a mission to explore a strange new world,'' the appeals court said in overruling him April 16.

In 1969, ``no further Star Trek projects of any kind were contemplated,'' said Justice John Zembrowski in the 2-1 decision. He said revenues from the later shows were not generated by work done by Gene Roddenberry during his first marriage - which would have entitled his first wife to a half share - but were entirely the result of his post-divorce efforts.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 1, 1996
Words:482
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