(written from a Production point of view)
Denny Martin Flinn (21 December 1947 – 24 August 2007; age 59) was an actor and author who co-wrote the screenplay for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country with Nicholas Meyer. He also wrote the Pocket TOS novel The Fearful Summons.
Flinn had not been a Trek fan beforehand; in an audio commentary with Meyer on the 2004 DVD release of the film, he admitted that he at first envisioned an ending where the ship is handed over to Picard and his crew, not realizing that TNG took place seventy years and three Enterprises in the future.
It was Meyer, a personal friend of Flinn, who had brought him in on the movie as script-writer in the summer of 1990. Not only did Meyer do this on professional grounds, as he needed help for the script, but Meyer figured that it could also be a means to get Flinn's mind off his battle with cancer, for which he received treatment at the time. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, pp. 359-361) Flinn had been the principal writer on the movie's prologue, which would have established the whereabouts of the Original Crew before they received the call to reassemble. Much to the dismay of everybody involved, the prologue had to be scrapped for budgetary reasons. (Cinefantastique, Vol 22 #5, p. 26)
Career outside Star Trek
Flinn was born in San Francisco, California and was raised in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. He majored in theater at San Francisco State University, after which he moved to New York where he performed in a number of Broadway musical productions, including Sugar from April 1972 through June 1973 and revivals of Hello, Dolly! and Pal Joey in the late 1970s. He also performed in and choreographed a number of off-Broadway productions.
Flinn spent a year and a half performing in international tours of A Chorus Line and even wrote and directed his own play, called "Groucho", which premiered off-Broadway and toured for two years. In addition, he performed with TNG guest star Theodore Bikel in a national production of Fiddler on the Roof. It was during this production that Flinn met his future wife, Barbara.
As a choreographer, Flinn worked in film and television as well as theater. He and director Nicholas Meyer first worked together when Flinn choreographed Meyer's 1988 film The Deceivers, which led to the two collaborating on the script for Star Trek VI (which Meyer also directed). Additionally, Flinn's choreography can be seen in sequences of the soap operas Another World and Search for Tomorrow and in an animated sequence of the hit 1990 film Ghost, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Vincent Schiavelli.
Besides his one Trek novel, Flinn also authored two mystery novels featuring the grandson of Sherlock Holmes (San Francisco Kills and Killer Finish) and a number of books on the entertainment world, including What They Did For Love: The Untold Story Behind the Making of A Chorus Line (his first book) and two How Not To books, How Not To Write a Screenplay and How Not To Audition. His work with Meyer on Star Trek VI was his only Hollywood screenplay; for their efforts, both he and Meyer were nominated for a Saturn Award in Best Writing from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Flinn later went on to adapt Meyer's novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, as a BBC radio play. He also wrote a radio play for Don Quixote, which earned him a nomination from the British Writers' Guild.
Flinn died in Woodland Hills, California on 24 August 2007, aged 59. It was initially reported that he had apparently committed suicide, but a later report attributed his death to complications from cancer (he was known to have suffered from throat cancer). He was survived by his wife, Barbara, and their two children, Brook and Dylan. His last two books, Ready for My Close-Up!: Great Movie Monologues and The Great American Book Musical, a Manual, a Manifesto, a Monograph, were published posthumously.
Star Trek interview
- "The Making Of The Undiscovered Country", Mark A. Altman, Cinefantastique, Vol 22 #5, pp. 24-25, 27-28, 30, 32, 35-36, 38, 43-44, 46, 48, 51-52, 54
- What They Did for Love: The Untold Story Behind the Making of A Chorus Line (1989)
- San Francisco Kills (1990)
- Killer Finish (1991)
- TOS #74: The Fearful Summons (1995)
- Musical! A Grand Tour - the Rise, Glory and Fall of an American Institution (1997)
- How Not To Write a Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make (1999)
- How Not To Audition: Avoiding the Common Mistakes Most Actors Make (2003) with Ellie Kanner
- Little Musicals for Little Theatres: A Reference Guide for Musicals That Don't Need Chandeliers or Helicopters to Succeed (2005)
- Ready for My Close-Up!: Great Movie Monologues (2007)
- The Great American Book Musical, a Manual, a Manifesto, a Monograph (2008)