Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #89, December 1984: Harlan Ellison vs. James Cameron

Some of you might know the details of this better than I do, but this issue features what I think is the interview that played a role in a lawsuit between writer Harlan Ellison and director James Cameron over the origins of The Terminator. From what I've gathered over the years in comments here and there (mostly online), Ellison sued, claiming that the story was ripped off from his work; Cameron allegedly admitted (or bragged) as much in a Starlog interview (and in a conversation elsewhere); Cameron's associate demanded to see the interview before it was published; Starlog said, Nope; Cameron's pal threatened legal action; Starlog caved; Cameron's associate removed a potentially incriminating quote from the article, which Starlog then published. BUT, Starlog still had the original interview, which was provided to Ellison and was the "smoking gun" used to threaten legal action against Cameron's studio; so Ellison was paid off and given a credit in future releases of the film. Lesson learned: Don't piss off Harlan Ellison or Starlog's editors.

At least, that's what I gather from reading several online explications of the controversy. Granted, many of them are likely regurgitating the same story from elsewhere. If there's a story that gives Cameron's point of view better, please let me know. You can see Ellison explain the story here. You really have to appreciate Ellison's comment about Cameron's ego out-sizing even his own.

Starlog #89
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

Enjoy the two-page foldout posters while they last; their time is coming to an end. This issue, the Starlog Science Fiction Classic poster is renamed the Fantasy Classic so it can feature Gremlins. Also, a note (and a complaint): The non-color pages seem to be printed on even cheaper paper, so much so that some of the photos are unbelievably black and impossible to view.

Anyway, the rundown: Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge column relates more convention fun; Communications letters cover reaction to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Fangoria columnist Alex Gordon on Max von Sydow, a reader who hates the magazine covering Knight Rider, and more; Log Entries (now bylined) short news items include Lee Goldberg on the new Twilight Zone TV show, Will Murray on The Spider, Andrew Denning on the passing of Richard Basehart, David Hutchison on the re-release of The Empire Strikes Back, and more.

Okay, so it turns out that Lenny Kaye's column hasn't reverted to its previous name, as suggested last issue – in his Space Age Games and Computers column, Kaye says a lot about Coleco; Lee Goldberg interviews Buckaroo Banzai director W.D. Richter; David Gerrold explains why writers say "no" to your requests; Dennis Fischer interviews V actress Jane Badler; Steve Swires interviews Irish McCalla, the original Sheena; Lee Goldberg interviews 2010 (and Altered States) actor Bob Balaban; Ben Landsman and Patrick Daniel O'Neill interview Doctor Who actor Patrick Troughton; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier interview Dune star Kyle MacLachlan; Patrick Daniel O'Neill interviews Supergirl actress Helen Slater (with a sidebar on the Supergirl comics); Thomas McKelvey Cleaver delivers one of the most controversial interviews with James Cameron; Anthony Scott King goes behind the scenes of John Carpenter's Starman; Lee Goldberg earned quite a paycheck with this issue – he next previews the Star Wars TV special The Ewok Adventure, which was a big leap over The Star Wars Christmas Special, which isn't saying much; and editor Howard Zimmerman echoes O'Quinn's convention comments.
"I have written the screenplay for Alien II, ... It does exist. What will be done with it, no one really knows. I can't really say anything more about Alien II than that it does exist."
–James Cameron, writer/director, interviewed by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver: "James Cameron: How to Direct a Terminator"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.
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