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Franz Joseph Timeline
by Karen Dick
with annotations by Greg Tyler

Entries here are condensed from FJ's "Writing Activities Log" (14 April 1973 - 14 April 1988) and FJ's "Design Work, Script, and Correspondence - Planet Earth" notebook (1974).

Editorial comments in blue are Karen's.
Star Trek production timelines, as far as Karen can determine them, are in red.
Greg Tyler's supplemental notes are in green.

GRGene Roddenberry, Star Trek creator
FJFranz Joseph, industrial designer
LMLou Mindling, Paramount Television V.P.
Judy-LynnJudy-Lynn Del Rey, science fiction editor for Ballantine Books
BGPBooklet of General Ship's Plans (a.k.a. Enterprise Blueprints)
TMStar Fleet Technical Manual
STStar Trek

Based on continued fan interest in the defunct Star Trek television series, as evidenced by ST conventions with huge attendance numbers and the continued popularity of the series in syndication, NBC contacts Gene Roddenberry about reviving the series. NBC eventually decides it is "too expensive" to re-create the sets and costumes, and the project is dropped. [Source: Where No One Has Gone Before (J.M. Dillard, Pocket Books, 1994)]
April 14
S.T.A.R. San Diego holds its inaugural meeting, which Franz Joseph attends with daughter Karen. Many of the members are interested in making accurate replicas of the props and costumes used in the Star Trek television series.
April 15
FJ makes technical drawings of the hand phaser and communicator using film clips and Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek as references.
May 14
FJ has made about a dozen drawings at this point and writes GR regarding proprietary rights.
May 19
GR writes back, encourages FJ to proceed, and wants to arrange with FJ to have Lincoln Enterprises (his wife Majel Barrett's ST memorabilia business) market the drawings.
FJ and GR exchange several letters regarding the drawings, now dubbed by FJ as the Technical Manual. GR continues to be supportive and enthusiastic, but marketing arrangements are still up in the air.
September 8
Star Trek The Animated Series premieres.
September 21
FJ begins work on the blueprints of the Enterprise, a.k.a. the Booklet of General Ship's Plans. He feels he needs to lay out the contents of the entire ship before he can determine if he can make some of the detail drawings (of the crew cabins, bridge stations, shuttlecraft bay, and such) for the Tech Manual.
November 12
6 months have passed, and there is still no marketing arrangement between FJ and GR/Lincoln Enterprises for production of the BGP and TM. FJ makes the decision to keep working along on the drawings for the BGP and the TM in the hopes that they will get marketed somehow by someone.
December 14
FJ completes work on the BGP and makes 6 check copies.
December 19
FJ sends one of the check copies of the BGP to GR.
December 31
GR calls FJ and is highly complimentary about the BGP. Neither he nor his staff has seen work of this caliber and they still are amazed that such a drawing of the Enterprise could be produced. GR invites FJ to visit him at Warner Studios in Burbank to discuss equipment problems he's been having with Planet Earth.
January 4
FJ flies to Burbank to meet with GR, Matt Jefferies, Bob Justman, Bill Theiss, and Ralph Naveda in GR's offices at Warner Brothers. The BGP has made the rounds of Warner Brothers and everyone, including the janitor, has seen it. Everyone is very enthusiastic about the BGP. GR and FJ discuss problems with Planet Earth, and FJ agrees to develop some sketches and get back together with GR ASAP.
January 8
FJ flies to Burbank for a second time. GR and FJ decide on the equipment types for Planet Earth, and FJ agrees to make drawings for both shooting dummies (Phase I) and working models (Phase II) and get them to GR as fast as possible, as they start shooting on January 19th.
January 12-17
FJ delivers Phase I Planet Earth prop drawings to GR.
January 28
FJ and Norway Productions get into an extended debate over assignment of rights to the Planet Earth prop designs.
February 8
All Phase II drawings have been delivered by FJ to GR by this date, even though assignment of rights is still up in the air.
March 5
10 months have passed, and FJ has received no response from either GR or Lincoln Enterprises regarding marketing the BGP and TM. FJ takes a different tack and writes Paramount Television asking for information as to who holds the proprietary rights to Star Trek, and how FJ might obtain a licensing agreement to sell copies of the BGP at Equicon '74 in April.
March 9
Paramount's legal department immediately responds with an offer of a one-shot-sale licensing agreement for Equicon '74.
April 3
GR writes FJ and suggests that FJ donate a copy of the BGP to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum for their "Life in the Universe" display, which includes artifacts (including the 14-foot ship model) from the Star Trek television series. GR has already written Fred Durant at the Smithsonian describing the BGP and the contribution they would make to the display.
April 5
FJ sends an uncut copy of the BGP to the Smithsonian.
April 8
With the help of S.T.A.R. San Diego members, FJ gets 500 blueprinted copies of the BGP cut, collated, stapled, and wrapped in bundles of 50 for transportation to Equicon'74.
April 12-14
The BGP is a hit! 410 copies sell at the convention, and 450 additional requests are taken.
April 18
FJ pays Paramount its royalty percentages from the convention sales. Paramount agrees that the remaining 90 copies may be sold under the original Licensing Agreement.
April 18
The BGP copy arrives damaged at the Smithsonian; FJ obtains and sends another uncut copy.
April 19
FJ and family attend the studio premiere of Planet Earth as GR's guests.
April 30
Lou Mindling, Vice President of Paramount Television, calls FJ. He says Paramount holds all the proprietary rights to the Star Trek theme and that FJ will have to deal with them (not GR) in all future marketing. He says Paramount is extremely interested in marketing FJ's work through their international organization, and Paramount will offer FJ a royalty agreement after looking for a suitable publisher. He will discuss the matter with Ballantine Books and get back to FJ as soon as he has something definite.
May 3
The second uncut copy of the BGP arrives safely at the Smithsonian and is included in the "Life in the Universe" display. The National Air & Space Museum would like to sell copies of the BGP in their Gift Shop, but FJ does not yet have permission from Paramount to market them.
May 14
FJ tells GR about his interaction with Paramount, and apologizes to GR, but it is obvious that Paramount has the legal/marketing rights to Star Trek and will be handling the marketing of FJ's work instead of Lincoln Enterprises.
May 17
FJ and Norway Productions finally reach an acceptable compromise on assignment of rights to the Planet Earth prop designs.
May 18
FJ writes to Paramount asking if they have any photos or sketches from the Star Trek television series that FJ might use to create a design for a commemorative postal stamp to be issued at the opening of the new National Air and Space Museum.
May 20
Lou Mindling calls to say that Paramount no longer has any photos, materials, or artifacts, from the original Star Trek television series with the exception of the master film footage of the various episodes. LM says Paramount thinks the commemorative stamp is a great idea.
May 30
Lou Mindling calls to say he has sent copies of the BGP and sample sheets from the TM to Judy-Lynn Del Rey of Ballantine Books, and she'll call FJ within the hour. LM also says Paramount will pay FJ an honorarium if the Postal Service accepts the stamp design.
May 30
Judy-Lynn Del Rey calls. Ballantine Books is very interested in producing both the BGP and the TM. She will discuss the matter with Betty Ballantine and be back in touch in about a week.
June 19
FJ sent master artwork for the proposed commemorative stamp to the Postmaster General. [The Post Office chose not to produce a commemorative stamp using FJ's design. No commemorative stamp was produced at all.]
September 18
Lou Mindling calls, apologizes for the long delay, and says Judy-Lynn Del Rey is in his office and they are discussing marking the BGP. Both he and Judy-Lynn are very enthusiastic about marketing FJ's works.
October 15
FJ agrees to sign a contract with Ballantine Books covering the publication and sale of the BGP.
November 14
After lengthy negotiations with Paramount over royalty percentages, FJ, Lou Mindling, and Judy-Lynn Del Rey reach an agreement. Paramount gets the lion's share of the profits.
November 15
The master art for the BGP is sent to Ballantine.
December 3
FJ signs the contract for the BGP with Ballantine Books.
February 25
Tony Lenz of Ballantine Books calls to say that pre-sales of the BGP have already hit 20,000 copies.
March 12
GR signs a contract with Paramount to do a Star Trek movie with a $3 million budget. [Source for budget info: Where No One Has Gone Before (J.M. Dillard, Pocket Books, 1994)] FJ is unaware of this.
FJ, Ballantine, and Lou Mindling go through lengthy negotiations over the proposed contract for the TM. FJ has more original work involved in the TM than in the BGP and wants a higher percentage of the profits; he also wants the book copyrighted in his name, not Paramount's.
April 28
FJ completes the masters for the Tech Manual. He is also told on this day that GR has signed the contract for the Star Trek movie.
Roddenberry returns to the office he occupied during the production of the original Star Trek series. He begins to write The God Thing, a script for a proposed Star Trek movie. The movie's principal photography start date is set for July 15, 1976, and its estimated budget is $5 million. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
May 12
Lou Mindling says Paramount will not contest a copyright on the TM in FJ's name.
May 24
The BGP hits bookstores and is sold out within 2 hours in every store that carries it.
May 28
50,000 copies of the BGP have sold out and Ballantine is printing 100,000 more.
July 18
The BGP is now #10 on the list of best-selling paperback books, even though it is not a book. Ballantine has now produced 210,000 copies.
By this time Paramount has rejected Roddenberry's story for The God Thing. Star Trek's revival is uncertain. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
August 9
FJ signs the contract for the TM and ships the master artwork to Ballantine.
August 13
FJ sends a Xeroxed copy of the completed TM to GR as a courtesy.
August 20
GR writes FJ to acknowledge he has received the TM. He is bitter about his previous arrangements with Paramount during the live TV series, and he doesn't think FJ has given him a large enough acknowledgement credit in the front of the TM.
September 9
Walden Books has placed an advance order with Ballantine for 70,000 copies of the TM. Ballantine plans on printing 250,000 copies of the first edition, which is unprecedented in the industry. [A typical first edition run for a paperback is 20,000 copies.]
October 6
The BGP is already in its 4th printing.
October 9
The first printing of the TM is now up to 450,000 copies(!). The first copies are off the presses, and Judy-Lynn calls FJ to tell him she is sending one to him immediately.
October 22
Lou Mindling calls to congratulate FJ on the TM.
November 7
The TM is being shipped and should be in bookstores by Thanksgiving.
November 10
Publisher's Weekly notes that of the 450,000 copies of the Tech Manual in Ballantine's first edition, 400,000 are already pre-ordered. Of the 350,000 copies already printed and shipped, 320,000 have already been sold.
November 17
BGP is now in its 5th printing.
November 26
The TM hits bookstores nationwide. It sells out as quickly as the BGP, and there are long "waiting lists" to order additional copies.
December 17
The TM is #1 on B. Dalton's bestseller list, and has been since the beginning of December. The BGP is still on the charts at #18.
December 29
A bottle of champagne arrives at FJ's residence, addressed from Ballantine Books. The Tech Manual just became #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List this week.
January 22
The Tech Manual is still #1 on the Bestseller List.
February 6
Lou Mindling calls to tell FJ that Paramount is going full-blown on the Star Trek movie, with an expected release in 1977, although they were starting from scratch. He said they would should shortly have a project for FJ and to think about "modernizing" the Enterprise. Nothing will be done to compromise GR and his ideas as creator, but Paramount wants FJ to help get this thing off the ground. FJ has no idea what they have in mind, but assumes they'll tell him when they're ready.
Gene Roddenberry collaborates with his assistant, John Povill, on revising Povill's proposed story for a Star Trek feature. Other writers also contribute stories or ideas at around this time. Writers involved include John D. F. Black, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, and Theodore Sturgeon. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
June 23
FJ calls Lou Mindling on an unrelated item and LM tells FJ that there is now a good working relationship between all the parties on the Star Trek movie project and that they are currently concentrating on signing up all the original actors.
Star Trek's return as a motion picture seems more likely, as the development of Star Trek: Planet of Titans begins. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
August 3
Lou Mindling called to talk about the Ballantine royalties and the success of FJ's publications. He urges FJ to produce other materials in the series.
British writers Chris Bryant and Allan Scott begin writing the story treatment for Star Trek: Planet of Titans. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
September 17
Judy-Lynn Del Rey calls. Everything is going fine. Ballantine is publishing a book of Gene Roddenberry's fan letters and his replies in January 1977. If it's successful, they want to follow up with a similar book of FJ's fan letters and replies later in the year. [This project from Ballantine never came to pass.]
September 17
While Star Trek's return remains in flux, the Enterprise returns to the public spotlight: the prototype space shuttle is christened Enterprise after Star Trek fans organize a massive write-in campaign. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
September 30
FJ reads in the media that GR's latest script for the Star Trek movie is rejected. This means that after 17 months, Paramount still does not have a useable script to start shooting.
October 6
With Paramount's blessing, Bryant and Scott begin writing the script for Star Trek: Planet of Titans. Ralph McQuarrie contributes a possible design for the new Enterprise. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
December 13
Lou Mindling calls FJ, and they have a long conversation. Lou asks if FJ would like to be involved with the Star Trek movie either as a writer, a consultant, an actor -- whatever. Anything. Please. FJ declines the offer, feeling it is not his place to be telling GR what to do with his creation.
May 8
Paramount rejects a rewrite of the script for Star Trek: Planet of Titans, shelving the project altogether. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
June 10
Paramount announces a fourth television network. Its flagship series is Star Trek Phase II. The as yet unwritten pilot is scheduled to air in February 1978. Walter Jefferies later designs a refitted Enterprise, and Brick Price is contracted to build the filming miniature. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
June 20
Lou Mindling calls FJ just to chat. Gives FJ info on the forthcoming Star Trek movie, and discusses FJ's work as it relates to GR's. LM continues to encourage FJ to do more work in the Star Trek area. [I think LM really meant the Star Trek II television series pilot instead of the movie. And, unfortunately, I have NO idea what the specifics were of the discussion of "FJ's work as it relates GR's."]
August 3
Alan Dean Foster pitches his version of a story for the pilot of Star Trek Phase II. Paramount executive Michael Eisner announces to the meeting attendees that the studio accepts the story not for a series pilot, but for a feature film. The story, "In Thy Image," would become the basis for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. No one at the meeting is permitted to reveal the decision, and preproduction of Star Trek Phase II continues. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
September 8
Harold Livingston reports the need to finish a first-draft script for Star Trek Phase II's pilot, since the series is scheduled to begin production on Nov 1. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
October 13
Lou Mindling tells FJ the Star Trek movie will be shooting next month.
Losing wars with other writers on the script for "In Thy Image," Gene Roddenberry fears losing control of Star Trek. According to Reeves-Stevens, "some... might uncharitably suggest he was driven by professional pride to prove that his first and only hit hadn't been a fluke" (60). [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
By this time virtually everyone at Paramount is aware that Star Trek Phase II is dead. Studio executives begin to negotiate with Leonard Nimoy and Robert Wise for their participation in what would become Star Trek: The Motion Picture. [Source: Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Pocket Books, 1997)]
February 16
FJ enters the hospital with a 5% hemoglobin count from a large benign tumor in his bladder. [Cause of tumor was exposure to toxic chemicals in plastics FJ had worked with at General Dynamics in the '40s-'60s. Everyone working with these plastics developed tumors of the same type, and a whole class of anti-tumor drugs has been developed to address this specific problem. All of the exposure victims have spent the rest of their lives having to be re-checked every 6 months for tumor recurrence.]
March 28
Paramount holds a press conference and announces that Star Trek will be a $10 million theatrical release movie. [Source: Where No One Has Gone Before (J.M. Dillard, Pocket Books, 1994)]
May 5
FJ re-enters the hospital with symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of intestinal cancer. He has surgery May 30 and is released from the hospital June 12. [FJ's health problems this year had been draining his energy for quite some time beforehand, and were probably one of the other reasons FJ did not want to get involved with any Hollywood Star Trek projects -- he was tired all the time and having trouble just getting through day-to-day tasks. After he got through these two hurdles, his health rebounded until his final illness in 1994.]
Production begins on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. [Source: The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Susan Sackett and Gene Roddenberry, Pocket Books, 1980)]
December 7
Star Trek: The Motion Picture opens in theaters. [GR's vision of Star Trek and FJ's vision of Star Trek are now irrevocably in conflict, and continue to diverge for the next 20+ years.] Many elements of Franz Joseph's TM and BGP are featured in the movie, however, and continue to appear until at least Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984).
Copyright 1999 by Karen Dick and Greg Tyler.

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