I’m really bummed about D.C. Fontana’s passing. I was hoping to talk with her at some point as part of a project I’ve been working on most of the past year (which you’ll probably be hearing about more early in the new year). Interviewing her at some point was actually a double-underlined bold-face goal in the planning document. And I figured at some point I’d get to drop my journalist guise, fanboy out a little bit, and thanking her for creating so much stuff she created that I’ve enjoyed in my life – not just key parts of the Star Trek mythos, but episodes of Land of the Lost, Buck Rogers, Logan’s Run, Six Million Dollar Man, Fantastic Journey…the list goes on. I would love to have seen the formulation of Buck Rogers that she and David Gerrold developed before Glen Larson swept most of their ideas away. (This has been a reminder to me that at some point I want to interview Gerrold for Retrogram about that very topic…and that maybe I don’t want to wait too long to work up the nerve to ask this time.)
She had such a hard road to plow in the old boys’ club that was TV in its early peak years. If you’ve ever watched the lengthy full interview with her at emmytvlegends.org, she sums up her entire career into one piece of advice for writers: “don’t be a woman.” Hearing those words come out of her mouth has always been a kick to the gut. It shouldn’t be that way. The fact that there’s a Trek spinoff coming up that was created by women and has an almost exclusively female writers’ room is a testament that she did succeed in kicking some doors down… though those doors took time to fall, and for the most part, that didn’t really happen in a time scale that benefited her at all. I can’t even begin to imagine some of the stuff she had to put up with. (Actually, I kind of can – when I was little, my mom would sometimes pick me up from school and take me back to work with her until it was time to go home, and I saw her put up with plenty of BS. And that wasn’t even Hollywood.) I’m sure Dorothy Fontana had to put up with much the same. And yet she kept showing up in the credits for literally everything because she was that good.
Now imagine how many other writers who are almost that good who we didn’t get to hear from until she kicked that door down.