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“Star Trek” celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and the television series, along with its many spawned spinoffs and films, continues to be a relevant element of pop culture and an influential part of both Hollywood and space-based locales around the world. Fun fact: No one in the original “Star Trek” ever uttered the words: “Beam me up, Scotty.”

The new Roddenberry Prize encourages participants to create a #boldlybetter future

"Star Trek's" influence is not felt just in entertainment circles, and the Roddenberry Foundation aims to make sure that the innovative themes and ideas started fictionally are backed by real encouragement.

The foundation has launched a new award program, the Roddenberry Prize, an annual $1-million gift in support of "solutions that address humanity's greatest challenges." The inaugural honor consists of one $400,000 grand prize and four $150,000 innovation awards, disbursed in lump sums to five recipients. And those recipients can be anyone who has an idea or invention that "could benefit humanity in areas as diverse as poverty, obesity, education or the environment."

"We launched the Roddenberry Foundation to build on my father’s legacy and philosophy of inclusion, diversity and respect for life to meaningfully improve the lives of people around the world," said Rod Roddenberry, son of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, in a statement. "With today’s launch of the Roddenberry Prize, we hope to heighten awareness of the critical needs that many face on this planet, and unleash the imagination and drive of those inspired to do something about it."

The spork is already invented, but surely some enterprising person will submit a game-changing project -- this year's application period opened yesterday and closes Nov. 16.  

Applications and rules are posted at The Roddenberry Foundation's prize website at RoddenberryPrize.org. Winners will be announced in January 2017 -- just in time for the debut of CBS' new "Star Trek: Discovery" series.

Everything we know about the new 'Star Trek' series

While the new James T. Kirk and his U.S.S. Enterprise crew continue their adventures in the rebooted "Star Trek" films, the franchise is preparing to boldly return to where fans first fell in love with the original series: television. 

More than 700 "Star Trek" episodes have aired throughout five series since the original debuted in September 1966, but the Bryan Fuller-helmed "Star Trek: Discovery" is the first new "Star Trek" television series since "Star Trek: Enterprise" ended its run in 2005.

The new show was first announced in November before Fuller was even attached to the project. While the first teaser for the series promised "new crews, new villains, new heroes, [and] new worlds," not a lot of details about "Discovery" have actually been revealed. 

Here is everything we know about "Star Trek: Discovery" so far. 

Review: In 'For the love of Spock,' Adam Nimoy pays an emotional tribute to his dad

Adam Nimoy, from left, makeup artist Fred Phillips and Leonard Nimoy are seen in the documentary "For the Love of Spock." (Gravitas Ventures)
Adam Nimoy, from left, makeup artist Fred Phillips and Leonard Nimoy are seen in the documentary "For the Love of Spock." (Gravitas Ventures)

Just as Leonard Nimoy had an uneasy relationship with his famous alter ego, his standing with his son wasn’t always on terra firma, as explored in Adam Nimoy’s honest but warmly affectionate screen memoir, “For the Love of Spock.”

Originally envisioned as a companion piece to the 50th anniversary of the original “Star Trek” series, the documentary took on a more personal air in the wake of the elder Nimoy’s death in 2015.

But while Adam, a 60-year-old TV director, now describes the film as a journey of self-discovery about his relationship with his not-always-present dad, Trekkies need not fear about being left out in the cold.

Reader comment sparks 'Star Trek' vs. 'Star Wars' debate

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

In a response to the article, "What the set of the original 'Star Trek' series was like 50 years ago," a commenter boldly went where few dare by declaring, "Greatest sci-fi story ever told, greater than 'Star Wars.'"

In order to gauge a larger audience's opinion on this epic sci-fi franchise battle, we took to Twitter and braced for the responses.

Surprisingly many agreed with the commenter and took their side in the debate: 

Others argued the fact that the two franchises were too different to be compared to each other: 

Some decided to play devil's advocate and not choose either:

So what do you think, "Star Trek" or Star Wars"? Let us know on Twitter.

Ranking every 'Star Trek' movie and TV series from first to worst

'Star Trek' (CBS)
'Star Trek' (CBS)

A franchise achieves the kind of permanence that “Star Trek” has only if it expands beyond its origins and original characters. “Star Trek” spun itself off into multiple TV series, movies, novels, video games, comic books… somewhere, there’s probably a puppet Kirk putting the moves on a puppet Orion slave girl.

While the tendrils of “Star Trek” have touched almost every aspect of our culture, it all began with content on a screen. So we’re ranking them: All of the TV shows and the movies, all together.

“Greatest sci-fi story ever told, greater than ‘Star Wars.’”

Times reader "jinsung"

Even George Lucas acknowledges 'Star Trek's' greatness

Among the bonus materials included on the DVD for the documentary "Trek Nation," which chronicles Rod Roddenberry's journey to explore the importance of the sci-fi franchise dreamed up by his father, Gene, is an interview with "Star Wars" creator George Lucas talking about the integral role "Star Trek" played in paving the way for his own space opera.

'Star Trek' softened up the entertainment arena so that 'Star Wars' could come along and stand on its shoulders.

George Lucas

What the set of the original 'Star Trek' series was like 50 years ago

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the "Star Trek" episode "Charlie X." The second episode of Season 1 first aired Sept. 15, 1966. (CBS Photo Archive)
Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the "Star Trek" episode "Charlie X." The second episode of Season 1 first aired Sept. 15, 1966. (CBS Photo Archive)

Editor's note: The first episode of "Star Trek" premiered today (Sept. 8) on NBC in 1966. The L.A. Times was there 50 years ago on the bridge of the Enterprise interviewing show creator Gene Roddenberry and taking in the "spectacular" set.

Not sure what to make of this highly ambitious sci-fi series, L.A. Times staff writer Don Page seemed impressed with the look but skeptical of the series' potential longevity.

If the show happens to fail on television, they could easily turn the set into a tourist attraction.

Don Page

We've republished Page's article, originally titled "Star Trek is Costly Sci Fi Epic," from Sept. 21, 1966.  It's a quick behind-the-scenes glimpse of a series that would live on and inspire television spinoffs for decades.

In the semi-darkness of a massive sound stage on the Desilu-Gower lot, strange creatures dart about through web covered catacombs.

Facebook gives its reaction buttons a 'Star Trek' theme

 (Facebook)
(Facebook)

For the 50th anniversary of "Star Trek," Facebook has themed its reaction buttons, and it's enough to get a person angry at an adorable puppy video just so they can use the Klingon.

"We chose the most iconic and recognizable characters and symbols from the original Star Trek series, as well as the Next Generation," Lindsey Shepard, Facebook Messenger marketing lead, said in a post on Medium. "We also wanted to honor the original design and spirit of Reactions, so we needed visual cues that were easy to identify at a glance, like Geordi’s visor. This led us to our final cast: Kirk, Spock, Geordi and a Klingon."

The special reaction buttons will be available to some Facebook users in the U.S. and Canada for a limited time, she said.

Note the key phrase "some users." It seems to help if you've previously expressed an interest.

Want to nerd up your profile picture for a while? Go to the official Star Trek page, scroll through the selection of limited-time-only anniversary frames and knock yourself out.

That barren planet where Capt. Kirk fought the Gorn? It's really L.A.'s Vasquez Rocks, Hollywood's favorite outdoor set

Vasquez Rocks, where more than 200 movies and TV shows have been shot. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Vasquez Rocks, where more than 200 movies and TV shows have been shot. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Alien life at Vasquez Rocks: William Shatner's Capt. James T. Kirk faces the Gorn in the "Star Trek" episode "Arena," which first aired Jan. 19, 1967. (CBS via Getty Images)
Alien life at Vasquez Rocks: William Shatner's Capt. James T. Kirk faces the Gorn in the "Star Trek" episode "Arena," which first aired Jan. 19, 1967. (CBS via Getty Images)

The mission, from the day “Star Trek” premiered on America’s televisions on Sept. 8, 1966, was ambitious: “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Where did Gene Roddenberry’s TV series go to find those worlds?

Often as not, it was a piece of alien-looking geology right here in Southern California — amid the jagged, sandstone boulders of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, a Santa Clarita Valley desertscape of prehistoric waves, frozen in time, that has done star turns in Hollywood productions since the 1920s.

It’s where Capt. James T. Kirk famously battled a seemingly indestructible green lizard called a Gorn in the episode titled “Arena,” and it represented planet Capella IV, where Kirk and Dr. McCoy helped an Amazon-like queen give birth to a warrior prince in “Friday’s Child.”

I've been a fan of 'Star Trek' since the original when friends came to watch it on my family's TV because we had a color set. The series was groundbreaking because it showed 1) we had a future and 2) the future was multicultural. Live long and prosper.

Times reader Bonnie Ferron

'Star Trek Beyond' stars discuss 'uncomfortable conversations,' Sulu's sexual orientation and the future

For 50 years, Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek” has been doing two things: enthralling audiences around the world with a vision of a future in which humanity has put aside its petty differences, and taking to the cosmos to show how that future is possible only through diversity.

As has been made clear over the course of six television series and 12 movies — the 13th, “Star Trek Beyond,” hits theaters Thursday night — Starfleet and its captains (most notably James T. Kirk) would be nowhere without women and people of color leading the way. “Beyond” advances that inclusion further with the revelation that helmsman Lt. Hikaru Sulu — played by George Takei in the classic TV series and by John Cho in the new cycle of movies that began with J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film — is gay.

We sat down with Cho, Zoe Saldana (who plays Lt. Nyota Uhura) and director Justin Lin for a frank roundtable discussion about the legacy of “Star Trek,” representation and optimism.

When I go to conventions like Comic-Con or when I meet a Trekkie or a Trekker, if anything, I’m the one who’s kind of in awe because it takes a great level of devotion and determination and time to sort of go, 'I love what this is. I don’t care if you’re telling me it’s real or not. What it makes me feel is real ...'

Zoe Saldana

Behold! Bryan Fuller's new 'Star Trek' ship, the Discovery

Bryan Fuller joined the casts of "Star Treks" past at San Diego Comic-Con to talk all things Starfleet and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the series. 

But in even bigger "Trek" news, Fuller decided to debut the first look at the new spaceship which will lead his new "Trek" series (officially titled "Star Trek: Discover" on CBS All Access). Take a good, long look at the test flight of the Discovery. 

Read every single L.A. Times 'Star Trek' movie review from 1979 to 2016

"Star Trek” is celebrating 50 long years of existence, and tucked into those 50 years are 13 “Star Trek” movies of all kinds and caliber; there’s even one  hinging on humpback whales.

If you’re planning a “Trek” movie marathon, look no further: We’ve cobbled together all the reviews from the first film in 1979 all the way to this year’s rebooted “Trek” offering. 

These were the days before fancy special effects, so the stories had to carry the show rather than the effects. After all these years, warp one and the transporter still seem impossible to achieve.

AEvangelista on "'Star Trek' at 50: How the TV series inspired a boy to become a scientist"

The Roddenberry vault opens for never-before-seen 'Star Trek: The Original Series' deleted scenes and outtakes

For the "Star Trek" completionists out there, there's more to boldly go watch when "Star Trek: The Original Series — The Roddenberry Vault" is released on Blu-ray on Dec. 13 in honor of the show’s 50th anniversary.

The release touts unprecedented access to never-before-seen footage from the production of the original "Star Trek." Hard to believe that there was anything else on the cutting room floor after all these years, but apparently episodic footage was preserved in film canisters by the Roddenberry estate.

 A panel on Saturday (6:30 p.m.) at the Star Trek: Mission New York convention gave a more visual look at some of the vault's material, which includes alternate takes, deleted scenes, omitted dialogue, outtakes and original visual FX elements.

The Blu-ray will include 12 episodes (chosen for their relevance to the vault materials, says the news release), and 11 of them contain isolated music tracks. Also, new audio commentaries appear on three fan-favorite episodes.

Each of the set’s three discs also features new documentaries that connect unseen vault materials with all-new interviews with crew members and famous fans.

Here's what the release will include:

Disc 1:

Episodes

  • "The Corbomite Maneuver"
    • Isolated music track 
  • "Arena"
    • Isolated music track 
  • "Space Seed"
    • Isolated music track 
  • "This Side of Paradise"
    • Isolated music track 
    • Audio commentary by Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana and Gabrielle Stanton
  • Special features 
    • Inside the Roddenberry vault (Part 1)
    • Star Trek: Revisiting a Classic

Disc 2:

Episodes

  • "The Devil in the Dark"
    • Isolated music track  
  • "The City on the Edge of Forever"
    • Audio commentary by Roger Lay Jr., Scott Mantz and Mark A. Altman
  • "Operation – Annihilate!"
    • Isolated music track 
  • "Metamorphosis"
    • Isolated music track 
  • Special features
    • Inside the Roddenberry vault (Part 2)
    • Strange New Worlds: Visualizing the Fantastic

Disc 3:

Episodes

  • "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
    • Isolated music track 
  • "Mirror, Mirror"
    • Isolated music track  
  • "The Trouble With Tribbles"
    • Isolated music track 
    • Audio commentary by David Gerrold and David A. Goodman
  • "Return to Tomorrow"  
    • Isolated music track 
  • Special features
    • Inside the Roddenberry vault (Part 3)
    • Swept Up: Snippets from the Cutting Room Floor 

I wish I kept the marionette of Mr. Spock I made in '67. That was our favorite show in 4th grade.

mbenny on "A Nimoy back on the bridge: Cruising the con with Mr. Spock's Son"

Pop music boldly goes to space

The original TV "Star Trek" series occasionally dipped into the music of its time. (CBS via Getty Images)
The original TV "Star Trek" series occasionally dipped into the music of its time. (CBS via Getty Images)

Unlike “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” takes place not “a long, long time ago,” but in the not-too-distant future.  That has allowed the series, both on TV and on film, to reference contemporary pop culture in general — and pop music in particular — in smart and lively ways over the last half-century.

In the latest movie, “Star Trek: Beyond,” for instance, 20th century music turns up when a surviving recording of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” rumbles out of  a vintage boom box aboard a centuries-old abandoned starship.

More than just a cute cultural reference, the “vintage” music is a sonic savior when Capt. Kirk and his crew need something “loud and distracting” to fend off a swarm of hostile invaders. In that crucial moment, the Beastie Boys’ 1994 track “Sabotage” helps save the entire United Federation of Planets.

Program your transporter settings for these upcoming 'Trek'-related activities

Image from the poster for "Star Trek: The Movie" (1979) (Paramount Pictures)
Image from the poster for "Star Trek: The Movie" (1979) (Paramount Pictures)

"Star Trek at 50”: Screenings and after-show panels discussing Robert Wise’s 1979 big-screen adaptation of the series, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” and the first features involving the original “Star Trek” cast. Sept. 9-16, American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd. $11 www.americancinemathequecalendar.com

“For the Love of Spock”: The Kickstarter-funded documentary about Mr. Spock actor Leonard Nimoy (directed by his son Adam Nimoy).  This screening, which will feature an appearance by Adam, and other films are a part of “TREKTEMBER” celebration at Laemmle’s NoHo 7, 5240 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood Thursday, 7:30 p.m. (Also at the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater on Sat., Sept. 10.)

“All Star Trek”: The Heroes & Icons TV network offers a lineup that features all five live-action “Star Trek” series six nights a week as well as “Star Trek: The Animated Series,” which airs Sundays at  4 p.m. PDT. Check listings and local channel availability at  www.heroesandiconstv.com.

What if 'Star Trek's' theme song had lyrics? Wait, it does!

Leonard Nimoy, left, and William Shatner in the original "Star Trek" series. (CBS)
Leonard Nimoy, left, and William Shatner in the original "Star Trek" series. (CBS)

For those who grew up with syndicated UHF programming, the opening to “Star Trek” is about as indelible as it gets. 

With delicate orchestral flickers framing an introduction that begins with William Shatner’s stentorian narration “Space… the final frontier,” the familiar, one-minute theme gallops on an operatic soprano that resembles a theremin framed by strings and brass. But what if that wordless melody actually had lyrics?

Before you start picturing Bill Murray’s swinging lounge singer delivering a theme to “Star Wars,” those lyrics already exist, written by the series’ beloved creator, Gene Roddenberry. And somehow, they’re more awkward than even Nick Winters could have imagined. 

 

Beyond

 

The rim of the star-light

 

My love

 

Is wand’ring in star-flight...

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