Norway Corporation, also called Norway Productions, was a motion picture and television production company established by Gene Roddenberry. Norway Corporation is best known for having been the production company that brought Star Trek to television on the NBC network in association with Desilu Studios, which later became part of Paramount Television.
Gene Roddenberry decided to become a producer as a direct result of his frustrations with his work as a television writer and the difficulty he faced in adding anything substantial to his stories. The Lieutenant, a 1963-1964 NBC and MGM Television series about the United States Marine Corps that starred Gary Lockwood as Lieutenant William Rice, was the first series he created and produced. Several future cast members of Star Trek first worked with Roddenberry as regular or guest cast members of The Lieutenant.
Roddenberry developed his idea for Star Trek while working on The Lieutenant. Desilu's vice president of production, Herbert F. Solow, purchased the series concept and made a production deal with Roddenberry in April 1964. Roddenberry pitched the show as "Wagon Train in space," even though it owed more to C. S. Forrester's writings about Horatio Hornblower than to any western.
Having squandered money on a series of failed pilots over the course of the early 1960s, Desilu had become severely cash-poor and was desperate to regain its past success. Although NBC rejected the first pilot, its executives were impressed favorably enough to commission an unprecedented second pilot, which the network picked up for the 1966-67 season. Star Trek premiered on September 8, 1966. Star Trek's end credits listed the show as a "Desilu Production in association with Norway Corporation."
Star Trek suffered from declining ratings throughout its three-year run; from the premiere to the final episode, Star Trek's ratings had dropped more than fifty percent. Before production began on the third season of Star Trek, Roddenberry had offered to demote himself to the position of line producer and personally supervise production of the show. In return, he wanted NBC to move the series to Monday nights at 7:30pm. But at the last minute, mainly because George Schlatter would not allow Rowan & Martin's "Laugh-In" to be rescheduled from its then-current 8:00pm time slot to 8:30pm, NBC decided to move the show back to Friday nights at ten, and Roddenberry, almost completely burned out from his struggles with the network and the studio, effectively left the series.
Star Trek: The Animated Series
In 1972, Roddenberry was approached by Filmation Studios about the possibility of an animated version of Star Trek for Saturday mornings. Premiering on NBC in 1973, Star Trek: The Animated Series was a joint production of Norway Corporation, Filmation Associates, and Paramount Television. Roddenberry delegated most production chores to D.C. Fontana, who was credited as Associate Producer-Story Editor. The overall approach to the Animated Series proceeded with storytelling in the same style that Norway Corporation had with the original live-action production. Roddenberry, however, later stated that little of the Animated Series actually counted towards canon for Star Trek, a statement some fans have disputed.
After Star Trek
Roddenberry created several other science-fiction television series concepts, often produced through Norway Corporation. Five of these concepts had pilot films produced; none, however, were picked up for series production. These pilots were:
- The Questor Tapes, which starred Robert Foxworth alongside Mike Farrell,
- Genesis II, which starred Alex Cord and Mariette Hartley,
- Planet Earth, which starred John Saxon alongside Janet Margolin with Ted Cassidy, and Diana Muldaur,
- Strange New World, and
- The made-for-television film Spectre, which was to be a backdoor pilot.
Some sources have credited Norway Corporation as having produced Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although Roddenberry served as Executive Producer on both the film and series, there is no evidence that he did so using Norway Corporation as his production company.
- Solow, Herbert F.; Justman, Robert H. (1996). "Inside Star Trek: The Real Story." New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-89628-8. pp. 4-5.
- Solow, Herbert F.; Justman, Robert H. (1996). "Inside Star Trek: The Real Story." New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-89628-8. p. 415.
- Solow, Herbert F.; Justman, Robert H. (1996). "Inside Star Trek: The Real Story." New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-89628-8. p. 422.
- imdb.com Production Company credits for Genesis II
- imdb.com Production Company credits for Spectre