Star Trek's Bob Justman - Episode 111
Nov 30 2018
He is an unsung hero from The Original Series. Associate producer Bob Justman was a key figure in keeping the production side of Star Trek functioning on time ...and on budget. He came to Star Trek in 1965 and started at the beginning, working on the first pilot, The Cage. Justman stayed until 1968, working on 14 of the 24 shows in the third season. Like Gene Coon, Bob Justman had a real impact on the show while he was there. He was a major player in getting Star Trek off the ground and functioning as a production. On this episode of 70s Trek, co-hosts Bob Turner and Kelly Casto tell you about Associate Producer Bob Justman. Show Notes Robert "Bob" Harris Justman was born July 13, 1926 in Brooklyn ⁃ As a boy he really liked Science Fiction ⁃ His father Joseph Justman was in the produce business. He and his partners did very well. ⁃ In 1944, Bob signed up for the draft. He didn’t get drafted so he went to the draft board and asked why he wasn’t drafted. They said he wasn’t needed. He told them he wanted to go so they sent him the PE building in LA for a physical. He failed due to his eye sight. He protested so they sent him to Ft MacArthur to get a real physical and made it. ⁃ While Bob was in the Navy during WW II his father, Joseph, founded the Motion Picture Center studio ⁃ He rented it to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and in 1950 they bought. The studio became part of Desilu Studios. ⁃ When Bob returned from the navy he worked at the produce firm. He didn’t get paid very well so when his dad asked him to come to LA to work in the motion picture business he decided to leave the produce firm and go to LA. ⁃ He hung around the studio for a time until his money ran out. He then went to one of the producers and asked for a job. This landed him his first job working on the film “Three Husbands” as a production assistant Justman had quite a career in film and TV as a Production Assistant and Assistant director prior to TOS ⁃ Production assistant on such films as ⁃ 1951's ⁃ The Scarf (featuring Celia Lovsky), ⁃ New Mexico (featuring Jeff Corey and John Hoyt) ⁃ M (featuring Norman Lloyd and William Schallert) ⁃ He Ran All the Way (also with Norman Lloyd), ⁃ 1952's ⁃ Japanese War Bride (with George D. Wallace), ⁃ Red Planet Mars ⁃ Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (with Leonard Mudie) ⁃ 1953's ⁃ The Moon Is Blue - made in 2 version an english version and a german version ⁃ The Moonlighter. ⁃ Assistant Director and producer ⁃ To be an assistant director you had to be in the Director’s Guild. At the time, to get in the Guild you had to be either the son of a member or be nominated by a studio which was only allowed one nomination a year. He didn’t have either but he requested to be accepted anyway. After waiting an agonizing 30 minutes for an answer the president of the Assistant Directors Counsel, Bob Aldrich, went to him, shook his hand and said, “Welcome brother” ⁃ everyone starts as a 2nd assistant director. It only took Justman about a year to become 1st assistant director which was unheard of ⁃ After Superman Justman was approached to be 1st assistant director on a series of 3 films called “The Americans” which never saw the light of day ⁃ As an assistant director, Justman worked with director Bob Aldrich on several projects. ⁃ They first worked together on the 1952-53 NBC series The Doctor, - This was his first AD job ⁃ after which they collaborated on such films as Kiss Me Deadly (1955) and ⁃ Attack (1956, featuring William Smithers). ⁃ Justman's other films where he was assistant director included; ⁃ The Big Combo (1955, featuring John Hoyt and Whit Bissell), ⁃ Blood Alley (1955, starring Paul Fix), ⁃ While the City Sleeps (1956, with Celia Lovsky) ⁃ Director - Fritz Lang ⁃ Noticed Justman looking at his set plans and Lang spent time to explain the plans to him even though Justman was the 2nd AD ⁃ This was technics that Justman used in the future ⁃ Lang had issues with John Drew Barrymore ⁃ Barrymore looked to his wife for direction instead of Lang which did not make him very happy ⁃ Green Mansions (1959, starring Nehemiah Persoff), and ⁃ 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty (featuring Antoinette Bower, Torin Thatcher and stunts by Paul Baxley). ⁃ Justman was also an assistant director on television shows such as ⁃ The Adventures of Superman (1953-58, 78 ep) ⁃ associate producer for all 78 episodes and ⁃ assistant director on the classic series during its 1954-55 season. ⁃ Justman says that George Reeves was a trooper given what he was put thru ⁃ One time the wire broke and he dropped down to the cement ⁃ Justman learned early to schedule certain shots very carefully. As an example he tells a story about how Reeves would drink his lunch so when he would do the spring-board jump out the window he sort of missed and hit his knees on the window sill ⁃ The Thin Man (1958-59, 31 ep) ⁃ Northwest Passage (1958-59, 13 ep) ⁃ Philip Marlowe (1959-60, 26 ep) ⁃ Alcoa Presents One Step Beyond (1959-1961) ⁃ Produced at the same time as the more well-known The Twilight Zone (1959) ⁃ Some stars included Cloris Leachman, Warren Beatty, Jack Lord, Christopher Lee, Elizabeth Montgomery, Donald Pleasence, and William Shatner, ⁃ Dr. Kildare (1961-66, 6 ep) ⁃ Was asked by the President of MGM TV if Justman new any composers. Justman had heard some of Jerry Goldsmith’s scores and recommended him. As we talked about in Episode XXX This was one of Goldsmith’s breakout opportunities. ⁃ Justman and Goldsmith have never met ⁃ The Outer Limits (1963-65, 20 ep) ⁃ He served as the assistant director for all 20 episodes and a Production Manager in 1964 ⁃ Appeared in the 1964 episode "A Feasibility Study" (directed by Byron Haskin, written by Joseph Stefano, and starring David Opatoshu) ⁃ Worked with Shatner on “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” (1964) ⁃ Sally Kellerman, James Dohan ⁃ Lassie (1965-66, 4 ep) ⁃ My Friend Flicka (1956-57) ⁃ While the City SleepsFritz Lang ⁃ In Oct 1964 Justman met GR at Desilu to talk to him about Associate Producer role for the first TOS pilot “The Cage”. Justman recommended Byron Haskin saying that he (Justman) did not have enough post production experience ⁃ first to call Gene Roddenberry "The Great Bird of the Galaxy," drawn from a throwaway line from the original series episode "The Man Trap" That takes us to October 1964. Gene Roddenberry was in pre-production for Star Trek’s first pilot, The Cage and he needed an associate producer. An Associate Producer’s job is to do the dirty work on a show. This person makes sure both the production and post-production phases are running smoothly for every episode. They are also responsible for making sure each episode doesn’t run over budget. So with a show as complicated as Star Trek was going to be, Gene needed an experienced hand. He asked James Goldstone who had worked with Gene on The Lieutenant if he had any suggestions. He recommended Bob Justman. Justman met with Gene for about 30 minutes and Gene offered him the job. While Justman really wanted it, he turned down Roddenberry’s offer. He felt Star Trek’s post-production needs would be great, and he was afraid he didn’t have the experience to get the job done. But they also needed an experienced assistant director. Justman was, at the time, working on The Outer Limits. But Desilu’s Executive in Charge of Production, Herb Solow, called and asked if Justman could work for Star Trek temporarily, just 6 weeks. And that was it. The deal was done and Justman came to Star Trek. Now the original position that Justman had interviewed for, associate producer, went to Byron Haskin. He was an experienced producer, but was hard to get along with. And as work started on The Cage, he and Roddenberry butted heads a lot. Rodenberry would want a certain effect on a shot, and Haskin would tell him it couldn’t be done. Period. He gave Gene no alternative ideas. Often times, Justman was in the middle of these disputes trying to nudge Haskin to come up with something Work on The Cage finished, and NBC rejected it. But invited Roddenberry to try again. When Star Trek was offered to do the second pilot, Gene asked Justman back. This time, though, he gave him the job of associate producer. Gene had had enough of Haskin. Because of the budget on the 2nd pilot, when post-production finished on it, so did Justman’s job. This was the summer of 1965. But Desilu had attracted a number of pilot projects that needed produced. So Solow decided to make Justman the associate producer on all of them. This way he could stay at Desilu and be close by if Star Trek was picked up. Some of the work he did included Desilu’s other big show, Mission Impossible. Star Trek was picked up by NBC in March 1966. And Justman’s first task was to move the starship sets from the soundstage where the 2nd pilot was shot, to a new soundstage that would be its home for the series. This was actually a monumental task. Each section had to be removed, crated and put back into place on the new soundstage in exactly the same configuration. The move resulted in some of the sets being redesigned, and reworked for the series. One of those sets was the bridge that got a big make over. As the show started production, it was Justman’s job to make sure all the little details were taken care of. Some of this work included analyzing scripts and establishing production budgets for them, Making sure production on one episode, production and post production on a 2nd were all moving forward simultaneously and on schedule. Any issues for any shows in any of these stages, were Justman’s to work out. Along with his day-to-day duties, Justman also acted in one episode of the series, though he is not creditied for it, He is the voice of a security guard in the episode Conscience of the King. He also found time to come up with a story idea. He came up with the basic story for the episode Tomorrow is Yesterday. In fact, he laid that story out in a memo to Gene on April 12, 1966. When he didn’t hear anything for 8 months, he sent a reminder to Gene about the idea. At that point, the show was hungry for scripts, so Roddenberry approved of the idea and assigned Dorothy Fontana to write the screenplay. But in his second memo, you cans ee a little of Justman’s wit. He wrote at the end, “Please let me hear from you at your earliest convenience, as otherwise I feel I shall be forced to sell this story idea to “Time Tunnel.” ” That’s just one example of Justman’s wit, and it is pretty legendary. He would often let his sarcastic sense of humor and dry wit fly in memos. An example of his humor can actually be seen in the closing credits of the show. For Herb Solow’s credit, Justman intentionally chose a picture of the Balok dummy from the Corbmite Maneuver and positioned Solow’s credit just under the glaring eyes of Balok. Justman later wrote in the Book Inside Star Trek, “I thought it a fitting tribute, as did Herb, who thanked me profusely, thereby depriving me of some heavy-duty gloating. I still have the original credit and display it in my office at home, suitably framed in the cheapest, junkiest frame I could find.” And there’s another incident that speaks to Justman’s humor. The show was shooting a script that was still being written by Roddenberry. The last shot was about to be completed, and if they didn’t get the new pages for the next scene, they would be forced to shut down production. That costs money! So Justman went to Gene’s office. Roddenberry kept writing away, and didn’t acknowledge Justman. Justman waited a few minutes and finally asked, him, “How much longer Gene?” Roddenberry ignored him and kept writing. Justman waited some more. At one point Gene looked up, thinking about something, ignored Justman, and went back to work. Justman later wrote, “He shouldn’t have done that. I climbed up onto his desk and stood there, looking down at him. ‘That’ll teach him to ignore me, I thought.” After a few minutes more, Gene finally ripped the pages free of the typewriter, finished scribbling on them, and without looking at Justman, reached up and handed them to him. Without saying anything, Justman jumped down and went to the set. This became a standard routine through the 1st and 2nd seasons of the show. Whenever Gene was still writing, Justman would jump up on his desk and wait for the pages. But there’s a little addendum to this story. There came a time when Justman tried to get in Gene’s office and the door was locked. He realized that there was an electronic latch on the door that, when Justman entered the outer office, Gene’s secretary would activate. Not to be out done, Justman waited until the secretary left on an errand. Found the switch and unlocked Gene’s door. Then without saying a word, he entered Roddenberry’s office, walked past Gene who was busy writing, and exited through another door at the other end of the office. Justman wrote, “We never discussed it, not even in later years. It was our own private joke and it helped cement an already close friendship.” The 2nd year of Star Trek was by far its best. It’s when all the right people were active in the right positions. Speaking of positions, Justman told Roddenberry at this time that he wanted to move up to a full producer’s position for Star Trek’s third season, and Gene agreed it was probably time. With the letter writing campaign at the end of the 2nd year, Star Trek’s third season was guaranteed. But it wasn’t going to go the way anyone thought it would. NBC first told Roddenberry that Star Trek would be on at 7:30 on Monday. Then it changed the position to Friday at 8:30. But, it finally settled on Fridays at 10pm, a time when Star Trek’s core audience would not be home watching TV. It was this move by NBC that prompted Roddenberry to move out of his producer role and become the Executive Producer of the show. That position is further up the chain of command, and has nothing to do with the day-to-day operations. Roddenberry had, in effect, quit Star Trek. As pre-production for the third season began, the show had no story editor. So Justman jumped in and started reading and analyzing stories and scripts. Then he would forward his thoughts to Gene. Roddenberry never responded and seldom read Justman’s reports. To make matters worse, there was no one to rewrite scripts. Justman urged Roddenberry to hire someone. Gene finally got back to him and said, “Good news Bob, Star Trek’s going to have a new producer this year.” Justman thought gene was about to say, “It’s you.” Instead, Roddenberry said, “Fred Freiberger’s coming in as our new producer…” Hustman was stunned. “Gene, I thought I would be producer.” “You will,” said Roddenberry. “You’ll be a co-producer.” The new studio, Paramount, and NBC wanted an experienced hand at the help of such a complicated show. Justman was viewed as a nuts and bolts guy, and Roddenberry didn’t fight for him. Justman’s attitude toward Star Trek never recovered. In fact the morale of the entire cast and crew began to sink. Star Trek was not a fun place to work anymore. Gene was now gone. Frieberger had to labor to understand the show. And the bulk of the daily chores fell on Justman. He later wrote, “I was alone, struggling against insuperable odds.” Without Roddenberry, the writing process was no longer about good stories. It was now just budget-driven. Justman wrote, “There were no highs and no lows---just a boring in-between…The Star Trek I knew, and was proud to be a part of, was no more.” He expressed his concerns to paramount’s head of TV, Doug Cramer. Cramer asked Justman to stay and promised him his pick of future pilots to work on if he did. Justman said he’s love to do a pilot for Cramer, but he wanted out of his contract. Paramount came back and offered more money, but that wasn’t what Justman wanted. Justman was burned out. That’s when Herb Solow called. He was now the head of MGM Television and he offered Justman a full producers job on the pilot for “Then Came Bronson.” He quit Paramount the next day and, according his own words, became persona non grata at Paramount for the next 18 years. After Star Trek, Justman went on to work on shows like Search and Man from Atlantis. In 1987, he rejoined Gene Roddenberry and others from The Original Series on Star Trek The Next Generation. He served as Supervising Producer for 17 episodes in the first season. In 1996, he and Herb Solow published their book, Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. If you haven’t read this one, it is a very captivating look at what was going on behind the scenes at Star Trek. Bob Justman died of Parkinson’s Disease in 2008.