The real-life story of how Gene Roddenberry and Lucille Ball created the original ‘Star Trek’ debuts as a virtual table read Oct. 21st

LOS ANGELES | October 8, 2020 — DTLA Film Festival, a leading showcase of independent film in Los Angeles, announced today that writer Ben Everhart’s “The Creator” has been selected as the grand prize winner of it 2020 Screenplay Contest.  The story about how the unlikely collaboration between Gene Roddenberry and Lucille Ball produced the multi-billion-dollar “Star Trek” franchise will be produced as a taped-to-live table read, debuting on Wednesday, Oct. 21st, 7:00 pm PST on the festival’s Facebook and YouTube.

The virtual table read, directed by Colleen Davie Janes, will feature a cast of 30-plus players with Michael Bakkensen (“The Americans,” “Madame Secretary”) and Risa Benson (“Home Cooked News,” “Rescue Me”) in the starring roles of struggling screenwriter Gene Roddenberry and Hollywood icon Lucille Ball, whose production company Desilu took the chance on producing the first-ever prime-time science-fiction for network television. 

The production will co-star Denver Taylor (“Salt-N-Pepa”) and Anthony Robert Grasso (“Jessica Jones” )as Desilu production executives Herb Solo and Oscar Rudin, Shauna Pinckett (“Forefathers”) as actress Majel Barret, who starred in the “Star Trek” TV series’ original pilot episode and would later become the second Mrs. Gene Roddenberry, Nick Moss (“The Cobblestone Corridor”) as both William Shatner and Harlan Ellison, Ken Perlstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!”) as Leonard Nimoy, Nihara Nicelle as Nicelle Nichols (“Vanished”) and Omar Pelaez (“Ride The Wave”) as Desi Arnaz.

Also co-starring are Derek Anthony (“Bosch”), Meredith Handerhan (“The King of Staten Island”), Mara McCann (“The Killer In The House”), Jared P. Smith (“FBI”), Jo-anne Lee (“Blue Bloods”), Elisha Lawson (“Blue Bloods”), Samarah Conley (“Last Vermont Christmas”), Jim O’Hare (“Bull”), Garrett Lee Hendricks (“Law & Order: SVU”) and Phillip James (“Decoy”).

More than 30 actors will participate in the table read production, which be taped to live and then presented to the public for the first time on Oct. 21st. The table read presentation (beginning at 7 pm PT) will be followed immediately by a live chat in which the audience will be able to ask questions of the director, screenwriter and select cast members.

“It’s a huge honor to be selected for DTLA Film Festival’s table read. ‘The Creator’ was a true passion project, and I’m grateful to the festival for this opportunity. Everyone at the festival has been tremendously supportive — and they’re bringing a thoughtful, creative vision to the event. My script is in great hands,” said “The Creator” screenwriter Everhart.

Everhart noted that while most people know ‘Star Trek’ as a beloved science-fiction franchise, they don’t realize that it was created from a decidedly progressive point-of-view. “Gene Roddenberry created ‘Star Trek’ during the 1960s, in the midst of The Civil Rights movement. He used the show to make a political statement, to champion diversity and positive representation. He was one of the first to cast people of color in leadership roles and embrace storytelling with racial, political and philosophic themes,” he said.

Established as a nonprofit arts organization in 2008, DTLA Film Festival is the largest film-TV event in downtown Los Angeles, the historic core of the Film Capital of the World. Its mission is to showcase films by and about groups traditionally underrepresented by Hollywood. The 12th edition of the festival, originally scheduled for October, was cancelled last March because of the COVID-19 national health emergency. In lieu of a live event, the organizers decided to channel its resources to hosting a screenplay contest, culminating in a public, online table reading of the winning feature-film entry.

“The relevance of this story to the racial and political reckoning now happening in America really resonated with our programming team. It’s also a fascinating look at how one of the most unlikely collaborations in the history of Hollywood resulted in one of its most beloved franchises. Ben’s screenplay is extremely well-written, bringing to life the characters of Gene Roddenberry and Lucille Ball in an engaging and authentic way,” said Karolyne Sosa, the festival’s director of programming.

The virtual table read of “The Creator” is produced by Leann Barna, Greg Ptacek and Karolyne Sosa, and directed by Colleen Davies Jane. The editor is Simon Minton. The original score for this production is by Sean Peter Hagon (History Channel).

Ticket sales for the “The Creator” table read event on Oct. 21st are now available on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-creator-online-table-read-of-screenplay-live-cast-crew-qa-tickets-124437350465

The festival also announced today the other winners of its 2020 Screenplay Contest. The complete list follows: Winners | 2020 DTLA Film Festival Screenplay Contest
Grand Prize Winner
 “The Creator” by Ben Everhart | The story behind Gene Roddenberry’s creation of “Star Trek” for financier Lucille Ball, the first female head of a major Hollywood production company.

Best Feature Screenplays

  • “Invoking Juan Angel” by Daniel Eduvijes Carrera | Mexican immigrant Magdalena Cruz is hired as the live-in caregiver for Ian, a severely ill child whose forced isolation has created budding psychic abilities and a fascination for the paranormal. 
  • “Queen of Newburgh” by Lisa Cole, Veronica Moody | Inspired by experiences in the life of co-writer, Veronica “Ronnie” Moody, a badass young woman, who dreams of escaping her tough Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in upstate New York.

Best Short Scripts

  • “American Daylight” by Chase Casanova | Two strangers form an unlikely bond during a shooting at a state fair.
  • “Trundle and the Lost Borscht of Atlantis” by Zachary Smolar | A goblin who excretes delicious borscht and lives in the basement of a deli dreams of working the counter, and when he falls in love with a regular, he stops at nothing to meet her.
  • “Dear Black Son” by McKinley Bundick, Jr An animated short that tells the story of all of the unspoken fears of African-American parents have when they give birth to a child.

Best Television Pilots

  • “The Haight” by Kimba Henderson | Amid the explosive 1968 murder trial of Black Panther, Huey Newton, the multicultural denizens of Reve, a hip Haight-Ashbury café’ struggle to maintain their peaceful balance. 
  • “They/Them” by Chris Welles, Edson Montenegro | Two non-binary recent college graduates, Kris and Edi, attempt to piece together a life in New York City, interspersed with sketch comedy based on their shenanigans.

Special Category: Best Feature screenplay of fully completed projects

  • “The Dental Plan” by Wayne Diu | An unexpected patient takes a dentist and his assistant hostage, revealing uncomfortable truths about society and — most of all — those trapped in the office with him.
  • “Diagnosing Healthcare” by Paul Roberts | Offering solutions for the COVID-19 crisis, this timely film explores health care with human rights at the center that offers innovative solutions for all humanity.
  • “Don’s Marketing Hour” by Ryan Stroud | Don attempts to make a marketing video against the wishes of his business partners.

# # # # # About DTLA Film Festival 
Founded in 2008 as a nonprofit (501)(c)(3) arts organization, DTLA Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing films by and about groups underrepresented by Hollywood in the historic center of the Creative Capital of the World. The festival also strives to reflect in its programming the unique cultural and ethnic diversity of the neighborhoods of downtown Los Angeles and its surrounding communities. More: https://www.dtlaff.com

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