Though Star Trek is one of its biggest assets now, once upon a time, Paramount desperately wanted to get rid of the first in the franchise, Star Trek: The Original Series. Desilu, the studio owned by Lucille Ball of “I Love Lucy,” was the original producer of the series. Ball really liked the show and was instrumental in keeping the show going after the first pilot was turned down. So as long as Star Trek had Ball in its corner, it kept going. But in July 1967, Desilu was bought by Gulf+Western which had also just bought Paramount Pictures in 1966. That handed the reins of Star Trek to Paramount.
Herb Solow was one of Star Trek’s producers back then, and in an interview with Michelle Hilmes for NBC: America’s Network, he said that the series was losing too much money each week and because there weren’t enough episodes to be syndicated, Paramount didn’t want the series. In fact, they were eager to be rid of it. So the studio offered Gene Roddenberry all of its equity in Trek for $150,000, which is over a million dollars today.
Unsurprisingly, Roddenberry didn’t have that much money so he couldn’t afford to buy the equity which left Star Trek with Paramount, and the franchise kept chugging. After the cancelation of the original series in 1969, it didn’t take long for the network to realize Roddenberry’s inability to accept the offer was fortuitous. And now, 24 years later, Paramount is no doubt thrilled that Roddenberry couldn’t afford to accept its offer as the franchise is worth billions of dollars and shows no signs of slowing down. With Star Trek, Paramount has a guaranteed income for a long, long time.