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Boldly celebrating 50 years of ‘Star Trek’s’ all day long

“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.

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)

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.

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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.

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Reader comment sparks ‘Star Trek’ vs. ‘Star Wars’ debate

(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)

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.

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Even George Lucas acknowledges ‘Star Trek’s’ greatness

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George Lucas talks about the connection between “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” in an interview, one of the bonus features on the DVD release of “Trek Nation.”

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)

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.

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Facebook gives its reaction buttons a ‘Star Trek’ theme

(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)
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.”

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Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park in Southern California has been used as a location on Hollywood productions dating back to the 1920s.

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

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Stars Zoe Saldana and John Cho and director Justin Lin discuss making “Star Trek Beyond,” fandom, Sulu’s sexuality, and how they approached a timeless story from new angles.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

Pop music boldly goes to space

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.

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

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.

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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)

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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A Nimoy back on the bridge: Cruising the con with Mr. Spock’s son

Adam Nimoy said because of all the time he spent on the “Star Trek” set as a boy, he felt right at home in a mockup of the Enterprise at a Las Vegas convention.
(455 Films / For The Love Of Spock)

Whirrs, bloops and pings greet visitors inside a darkened non-nondescript, corporate-friendly ballroom. Half hotel, half life-sized reproduction of the famous bridge of the NCC-1701, this is Starfleet’s flagship Constitution Class vessel of exploration, the Enterprise.

“This really feels like coming home,” Adam Nimoy says with a laugh as we’re granted permission to take a stroll where few fans have gone before.

I’m in Las Vegas with Adam Nimoy at the first official “Star Trek” convention since his father, Leonard Nimoy, died. Gatherings that his father referred to as “victory laps.” It had been more than five months since the 83-year-old’s passing, and while there was a cloud of melancholy, fans were ready for what the convention was dubbing a “celebration of life” in the renamed Leonard Nimoy Theater.

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Jordan Hoffman provides commentary as he tours the Starship Enterprise before the “Star Trek” convention opens in 2015.

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How Leonard Nimoy was cast as Mr. Spock on ‘Star Trek’

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock on Star Trek; John Chambers created the character's famous ears.
(Paramount Pictures)

His role as Mr. Spock made a lasting impact on pop culture, but Leonard Nimoy barely noticed when he first heard about the role back in 1966.

“I really didn’t give it a lot of thought,” Nimoy recalled of the time his agent first called about the part.

Nimoy -- who died at 83 -- recalled how he won the landmark role as the relentlessly logical half-human, half-Vulcan Spock during a November 2000 interview with the TV Academy for its Archive of American Television Project.

If I keep my mouth shut, I might have a job here.

Leonard Nimoy

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Enjoy some Mozart in the ‘Star Trek’ universe with Pacific Opera Project’s ‘Abduction from the Seraglio’

Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio" has been set in the Star Trek universe by the Pacific Opera Project.
(Pacific Opera Project)

It’s the final act of Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio” and a tenor channeling 1960s-era William Shatner is belting out a florid aria as he battles a pack of gnarled Klingons. Welcome to the Pacific Opera Project’s update of “Abduction from the Seraglio,” a production that takes Mozart’s tale of kidnapping and beams it into outer space — the final frontier of “Star Trek,” to be exact.

Clearly, Josh Shaw and Stephen Karr, the co-founders of POP, are not afraid to mess with Mozart.

“This is a man who wrote poop jokes in letters to his sister,” Karr, POP’s musical director, says of the composer. “Mozart was in no way a prude.”

Though it’s hard to know what the maestro had to say about Klingons.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the original “Star Trek” television series. To mark the occasion, POP is restaging one of its biggest hits: The “Star Trek”-themed rendition of Mozart’s 18th century drama about two women kidnapped by pirates and sold into a Turkish harem, and the brave Spanish captain who comes to their rescue.

The show runs for a single performance on Saturday night at the newly renovated Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood.

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Appreciation: Leonard Nimoy made Spock ‘Star Trek’s’ most complicated, and modern, hero

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the "Star Trek" episode "Plato's Stepchildren."
(CBS / Getty Images)

It is important, and sometimes difficult, to remember that Leonard Nimoy was an actor, not an alien.

As Mr. Spock, the elf-eared, half-Vulcan science officer and first mate of the Starship Enterprise, he created a role that turned him from a journeyman into a star. The role made a footnote of everything he’d done before and colored everything that came after.

The titles of Nimoy’s two memoirs — “I Am Not Spock” (1975) and “I Am Spock” (1995) — indicate a process of rejection and acceptance the part played in his life. And each is true: He was all the while his own person — it’s interesting, even a little arresting, to watch him in “Star Trek” outtakes, smiling widely, cracking jokes — and yet there is no Spock without him. He is made from Nimoy’s own body and voice, his sense of timing and his sense of play.

Nimoy was 35 and had been a working screen actor for 15 years when “Star Trek” premiered in 1966. In series including “The Untouchables,” “Wagon Train,” “Perry Mason,” “Combat!,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Get Smart,” he played all kinds of parts, good guys and bad ones.

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‘Star Trek’ at 50: How the TV series inspired a boy to become a scientist

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock with Arlene Martel as T'Pring in "Star Trek," which began influencing scientists-to-be 50 years ago.
(CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images)

Like “Star Trek,” I turn 50 this year. But that’s not my only connection to the original television series. “Star Trek” inspired me to become a scientist, convincing me at an early age that science and the advancement of human knowledge could make the world a better place.

Like many people my age, I was transfixed by the futurism of “Star Trek” and the adventures of the Starship Enterprise. Part of the appeal was the action and exotic science-fiction elements: giant space amoeba, time-travel, cloaking devices — even shape-shifting alien salt-vampires. (Like I said, I’m a lifelong fan.)

But part of what makes “Star Trek” so compelling has been a consistent commitment to a set of pro-social values. If an advanced alien species sets up some sort of bizarre test where the only way the crew could survive was by acting in some barbaric or murderous fashion, you could be darn sure that they would choose to die rather than betray their values, and they would make their stand exceedingly clear in a moral lecture to said advanced alien race.

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Boldly laughing at ‘Star Trek’ for Earth’s future

Joshua Snyder is the producer and a performer of the Star Trek-themed Trekkies for Trees benefit comedy show June 29 at Flappers in Burbank.
(Courtesy of Flappers)

Some of comedian Joshua Snyder’s most lasting memories of “Star Trek” came from the weekly TV ritual of watching new episodes of “The Next Generation” with his dad. Except one year they watched “SeaQuest DSV” instead, and taped “Star Trek” for later.

“Please don’t print that,” Snyder says with a laugh. His history as a nerd is secure, since it remains a central ingredient to his standup career, as he jokes about Captains Kirk and Picard, dueling starships and interplanetary relations.

“Kirk is one of my favorite heroes because he solved problems by having sex with people,” he says of the original series. “The sex was so good that the entire race would have this huge enlightenment. ... Imagine having sex that was so good that you started recycling.”

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