Recasting...does it work?
Monday, July 31, 2006
[Trek XI Report Editorial]
One of the issues that many Trek devotees seem to be fixated on is that of recasting. The assertion of these fans is that audiences will not accept new actors in the roles made famous by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. But Hollywood has never shied away from recasting roles...even iconic ones. This week the top film is Miami Vice, in which original show creator Michael Mann has recast quintissential 80s stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx. The film made over $25 million in its first weekend in the US (The LA Times saying it is on track to exclipse Mann's 2004 hit Collateral). Are Kirk and Spock any more iconic than Crockett and Tubbs?
Devoted fans hold tight to their idols
When word of a possible recasting of Kirk and Spock hit the interweb it wasnt long until a faction of Trek fandom started throwing around words like 'sacrilidge', 'impossible', 'doomed' and of course 'online petition' .It is easy to understand why some hardcore fans find it difficult to see their favorite characters get recast, they have a deep emotional investment in these shows and their stars. The performances are burned into their psyches...it is hard to accept anything different. A recent example of this was the storm created in the run up to Trek vet Ron Moore's revamp of the classic series Battlestar Galactica. BSG's co-creator David Eick recently told the crowd at Comic-Con that it got so bad on the internet forums before the show aired that they just stopped reading fan input. Then the show came out and became a hit. Now most would agree that Edward James Olmos (ironically an Emmy winner for the original Miami Vice) is a better Commander Adama than Lorne Greene ever was.
Recasting has a long track record
Hollywood has been successfully recasting roles for decades, just look at the list of TV Adaptations to the big screen that have made it. And of course many film franchises have surivived and thrived with multiple recastings, such as Bond, Superman, Jack Ryan, and coming soon: 'Fletch' (to be recast with Scrub's Zach Braff). And of whatever your opinion of the latest Star Wars prequels (Episodes I, II, III) there seems to be universal agreement that Ewan Mc Greggor's portrayal of a young Obi Wan was near perfect. The closest example may be the Batman franchise, like Trek it had seen better days and so (again like Trek) they decided to get back to basics and do a recast and an origin story with Batman Begins. That film went on to be a mega-hit for Warner Bros. and just today they announced its sequel. It does not seem to matter if a character was originally created on the page, TV or film either, recasting has worked in all cases. To be sure there have been some duds that had recasting (like last year's Bewitched), but was it recasting with Will Farrell or a bad script that killed that one? In the end Star Trek is just another film franchise and it is subject to the same laws of Hollywood Physics. Mainstream audiences seem fairly flexible when it comes to recasting...its really only the hard core fanboys that have a hard time coping, and often even they come around.
Kirk and Spock wont be easy
Although recasting works, that does not mean it is easy, just ask Brian Singer who went to great lengths to find his Superman. That being said, the rumor that Matt Damon would play Kirk has actually been well received in the media and amongst fans, even William Shatner has said he thinks 'its great'. He is seen as having star power, being able to do drama and action, and having a 'fit' with the character. The big question at Paramount is: does it need a big star? It is easier for a good unknown actor (like Routh) to emboddy a role made famous by others, but a big star helps ensure box office success and bringing in new fans (something the Trek franchise could use). Although Damon seems like a good choice (if true) there seems little consensus on the more difficult Spock character. Opinions vary widely from Keanu Reeves to Jude Law to Adrien Brody to lesser-knowns like Milo Ventimiglia. One thing people tend to agree on is that Damon shouldn't be paired up with his buddy Affleck. The TREK XI Report is a strong believer a pairing of Matt Damon with Juaquin Phoenix in the roles of Kirk and Spock. One thing is for sure, recasting is one of the hottest issues in fandom, and will remain so for the next two years.
posted by Tony P @ 6:36 PM, ,
In a live chat with fans on her official site, Marina Sirtis (Troi from ST: TNG) didnt seem too happy with the direction Paramount is taking for Star Trek XI. "I agree with you all about the pre-quel, Gene Roddenberry always said that Star trek should go forward" she replied to the sentiments that the next Trek film should be set after Star Trek Nemesis, despite it's dissapointing box office. Her fans seem to want the new Trek film to focus on 'the Rikers' aboard the the Starship Titan. Star Trek Nemesis established that Sirtis' character Troi and Jonathan Frakes' character Will Riker were married and went off to have their own adventures on the Starship Titan. The Titan has become the basis for a series of popular Star Trek books.
More letter writing campaigns?
Many of her fans discussed sending protests to Paramount executives regarding the new film (seemingly a perennial Trekkie tradition). Sirtis let them know her view of the executives: "I just dont think anyone at Paramount gets Star Trek anymore", going on to say "they are killing Trek. They're trying to reach a new 'Lost' audience....they just dont get it". She went on to suggest that after the exectives 'killed' Star Trek that Euegene 'Rod' Roddenberry (who recently told a panel at Comic Con that he knows almost nothing about film making, scifi or Hollywood) should buy the franchise back. Siritis didn't stop with the new Trek film, she also took the time out to take a swipe at the last Trek TV show "Enterprise was NOT Trek. Just had so called Vulcans thrown in for seasoning to call it Trek". One has to wonder if she let the executives at Paramount know her views of their show when she agreed to appear in the series finale of Enterprise last year. Well work is work, she had this to say about reprising a role in another scifi franchise: "I would reprise my role in Stargate in a nano second, but they've not asked me...maybe you could all write them angry letters demanding I should be back on the show".
Perhaps her most telling statement was "if I'd have invented Star Trek, I'd still be on it"
(full transcript of chat), via Trekweb
posted by Tony P @ 10:44 AM, ,
StarTrek.com plans innovative web strategy for Trek XI
Sunday, July 30, 2006
[Trek XI Report Exclusive]
Since their first announcement over 3 months ago, StarTrek.com hasnt had much content for Trek XI. Well that is all starting to change according to CBS Digital’s Sandy Stone (Content Producer for Star Trek.com), telling the Trek XI Report that StarTrek.com has been deemed the official site for Star Trek XI. The first evidence of this was last week when the first Star Trek XI teaser poster was announced on the site, as well as being made available for download. 'StarTrek.com' features prominently on the poster and will also adorn all future promotional materials, trailers, etc. This is all part of a new coordinated effort between CBS and Paramount Pictures (now separate companies after the split up of Viacom) . In addition the Trek XI section on ST.com has already been expanded to include some news and interview reprints, bios & photos of the creative team as well as some downloads. .. “and this is only the beginning” says Stone promising much more in terms of exclusive content.
New creative regime bringing new ideas
According to Stone, JJ Abrams and the new creative team behind Star Trek XI are very web savvy. It was this team, along with Paramount Marketing, that decided that ST.com should be the hub for Trek XI. StarTrek.com is seen as a great tool for building interest and excitement (or 'buzz' as they say in H'wood) during production for the upcoming Trek film. All types of behind-the-scenes content, such as production diaries, blogs, interviews, photos and videos are being discussed as possibilities for the site. Although new for a Trek film, these are the types of things being done by some of the more innovative official film sites, such as bluetights.net and kongisking.net. “We are really excited about working with JJ Abrams and the new team”, says Stone "they really see the potential of the internet, and we all want startrek.com to be the hub for Trek XI content"
Getting Lost with Star Trek XI
A clue to what may lie in the future may be how Star Trek XI producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof have handled that other little project of theirs...Lost (you may have heard of it). On the official Lost Website you get the usual things (pictures, vids desktops, webgames, etc), but it is all very topnotch...this week they are featuring a video of 'fan theories' shot at ComicCon. In addition there are a series of podcasts with interviews and insights from the cast and crew of Lost (including Mr Lindelof himself). StarTrek.com has dabbled a bit with podcasts during the last year of production for Enterprise so it seems like a natural fit. There is also the very innovative 'Lost Experience', which is a web based game for the hardcore Lost fans to find clues to their favorite show around the web and by phone, part of which includes a blog on the official site as well as a number of official tie-in sites like HansoExposed.com (will we learn that the Hanso Foundation were responsible for the genetic experiments leading to the creation of Khan?). Lost also has an innovative mobile strategy that will include a series of 'mobisodes' broadcast during the show's hiatus this winter. These things show that the new creative team are indeed quite up to speed on the web...lets hope that we can see this kind of creativity show up with Trek XI.
More integration at ST.com is a welcome sign
Not only is it good news to hear that there will be new kinds of content for Star Trek XI on the web, it is good to hear that it will be centralized on ST.com (although there are bound to be some subsites and possibly a site put up by Paramount Marketing…all content will be available at ST.com). To the outside world StarTrek is a single brand and franchise (very much like that other franchise ‘Star Wars’, whose starwars.com is an excellent central resource for everything associated with that brand). However, unlike StarWars, Star Trek is spread around quite a few companies and subsidiaries of Viacom, CBS and their licensees, as evidenced by the many ‘official’ Star Trek related sites. For example, besides StarTrek.com there is Simon and Schuster’s Star Trek Books site , plus Bethesda Software’s Star Trek gaming hub (which itself has no mention of a key game: Perpetual’s Star Trek Online with its own site). The Trek XI Report is glad to see the coordination with Trek XI and looks forward to more of this kind of coordination on ST.com.
posted by Tony P @ 2:13 PM, ,
Win a Trek XI teaser poster at ST.com
Friday, July 28, 2006
StarTrek.com is giving away 40 of the Star Trek XI teaser posters (in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek). They will be giving away 10 posters per week for the next 4 weeks.
Click the banner to check out the contest:
StarTrek.com has also posted their first of two Comic-Con reports: Alive and Trekkin' 1, where they had this to say about Trek XI:
But of course, there is something new to look forward to, though it's two years away — an 11th movie under the leadership of J.J. Abrams. And to that end, Paramount Pictures used Comic-Con weekend to unveil its new teaser art: an Original Series Enterprise badge with a cloth texture, surrounded by command-uniform gold and science-officer blue, with "2008" and "STARTREK.COM" prominently shown in lieu of a title. The image first appeared on this site digitally as a splash page Saturday morning (related story), and concurrent with that, the Paramount booth at San Diego starting handing out 19.75"x13.25" mini-posters to everyone who passed by during the latter half of the con. There was no formal announcement or anything — not even at our Friday panel, when we were still sworn to secrecy! — just a discreet dissemination of the image. As our earlier article noted, let the speculations begin!
Not to go off on a rant or anything....
I was at that event on Friday (as reported here) and am a bit shocked they didnt announce it then...
...irregardless it is a cool contest...so go win a poster!
posted by Tony P @ 11:38 PM, ,
IMDB is a fantastic resource for fans and film industry people alike. For films that have been completed it extremely accurate and can be relied upon. But for films development that is another story. People should remember that IMDB is like wiki in that most of the content is submitted by users (just like you). And it appears that Trekkies are a bit overzelous in their contributions because the IMDB entry for Star Trek XI is riddled with wild speculation and rumors and it appears to be getting worse.
continue reading to get a full breakdown on what is real and what is myth...
Lets start with the Plot Summary and the Casting.
The first thing to remember is nothing is confirmed by anyone. Abrams has been consistent in saying it is a secret, but he along with StarTrek.com have made a number of 'indications'. That being said, whoever has been submitting at IMDB went way too far...here it is with my corrections:
Plot SummaryHere is what was wrong and why it was changed:
According to a report filed on a reputable website, Matt Damon is slated to play the role of Cadet James T. Kirk. The newest installment of the Star Trek franchise will be an Original Series Prequel, focusing on Kirk, Spock, and McCoy during their Starfleet Academy days.
Reliable reports indicate: a prequel to the Original Series Star Trek (1966) probably including the characters of Kirk and Spock.
CaptainJames T. Kirk (rumored)
1. Damon is not confirmed by anyone
2. how can he be both 'cadet kirk' and 'captain kirk' (especially as a 35 year old)
3. Academy plotline has been denied by Abrams
4. Mc Coy has never been even rumored to be involved
(really should have left it all blank to be hyper vigilent)
And the crew listings are riddled with errors as well
Here are the corrections noted in red
J.J. Abrams (option) [Abrams has yet to commit]
Alex Kurtzman ...screenplay
Roberto Orci ...screenplay
J.J. Abrams ...screenplay [Abrams is confirmed as writer]
Gene Roddenberry ...characters
[NOTE:writers say they will use old characters so Rodenberry entry is OK]
J.J. Abrams ....
Damon Lindelof ....
Bryan Burk .... executive producer
Alex Kurtzman .... executive producer
Roberto Orci .... executive producer
[NOTE: producer changes based on ST.com credits entry]
Original Music by
Michael Giacchino[Regular Abrams colaborator, but only speculation as of now]
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)[have worked on Trek films before but as of now just speculation]
$100,000,000 (estimated)[$100M is a good guess, but pure conjecture]
NOTE: my corrections have been noted in Star Trek XI: the FAQ, and (I fear) will be a continuing 'feature' for this site.
posted by Tony P @ 2:13 PM, ,
FAQ and Site updated...plus a new name!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Well Star Trek XI: the blog is less than two weeks old but already we are getting hundreds of visitors a day and have been linked by the official Trek XI Wiki as well as numerous Trek sites. Since it seems that this site is going bigtime I have updated the design...most importantly there is a new cool navbar at the top (^look up^) that links you to the 3 key sections
[update...now with new names]
1 The Trek XI Report
what you are looking at now!...for the latest news, rumors, musings, etc
2 Star Trek XI FAQ
all the info on STXI summarized in an easy to digest form
3 Star Trek XI media
all available downloads and media for ST XI
In addition I have updated the FAQ to reflect events from Comic Con and some more interviews. If you are confused about all the rumors or need more info...get the FAQs. I have also added a 'tips' link to send in emails for anything we missed...or any inside info (I am looking at you CBS/Paramount/BadRobot people that I know are reading this).
The future is bright
Not only is this the first, but I will endeavor to ensure this is the best site for Star Trek XI up to and after its release (then of course...the The Trek XII Report...electric bogaloo). The last couple of weeks have been hectic with the Abrams deal announcement and ComicCon, so news on STXI may die down a bit, but I plan on blogging away...finding any little morsel of Trek XI related news. Plus I have some interviews lined up and will be writing some (brief) thoughts on the direction of the franchise and Trek XI (just for you JJ!) So stay tuned to the Trek XI Report. And for those tech savvy users...don't forget to subscribe to the feed.
posted by Tony P @ 7:52 PM, ,
CBS to handle licensing for Trek XI
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
In the immortal words of Yogurt from Spaceballs (pictured right holding Spaceballs-the Flame Thrower...kids love it) "Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made." To that end Paula Block from CBS Paramount consumer products announced at a Comic-Con that CBS Paramount will be handling the licensing for Star Trek XI. CBS Para has been on a bit of a roll lately for Trek liscensing, bringing Star Trek back into the world of gaming after a 3 year drought, along with a new magazine and even a Manga comic book. Block summed it up thusly:
"Contrary to some people’s opinions, Star Trek isn’t dead"
One franchise...many companies
It may not seem significant that CBS Consumer Products will handle Trek XI licensing, but one must remember that Paramount Pictures (the maker of Star Trek XI) is part of Viacom and a totally separate corporation from CBS (which includes CBS Paramount Television, CBS Consumer Products and Simon and Schuster...all of which are involved in Star Trek). When Viacom split into two companies earlier this year, Star Trek ended up like a child with joint custody. That being said I am told that there is a good working relationship between the Trek XI team (at Paramount Pictures) and the people at CBS Para, etc., and they are looking forward to working together. Perhaps the best indication of this relationship was the release of the teaser poster on ST.com (part of CBS Para). I have been told that ST.com will be the home for Star Trek XI...again this may seem obvious, but Paramount Pictures has their own website as well as subsites for each of their upcoming releases (like the Orci and Kurtzman penned TransformersMovie.com).
Tie-ins seen as more important part of genre films
Recently Variety ran an article 'Piqued by Prequels' about comic and cartoon tie-ins with other genre movies
Once redundant as merely franchise adaptations, today tie-in comics and cartoons frequently provide valuable supplemental details to the story and characters, rewarding fans who do their homework with key background information
As examples they cited Kevin Smith's 'Chasing Dogma', Brian Singer's Superman Returns Comic Book series, the Star Wars Clone Wars cartoons bridging the gap between Ep. II and Ep. III and the Animatrix animated backtories for the Matrix Films. Variety notes that these products not only provide backstory for hungry fans, but also help promote the films. One of the more ambitions tie-ins seems to be from Titanic creator James Cameron whose upcoming scifi pic Avatar (also slated for 2008) promises to just be part of a expansive multimedia experience, including a new MMORPG.
CBS should take note of these trends
The Star Trek universe is rich with books (and some comics) which have filled many 'gaps' between the films and the TV episodes, but these are considered 'non-canon' (in other words...not 'true' within the universe). Plus these books and comics often come out years or decades after the theatrical releases (with the exception of the 10 Film novelizations which have always come out on the same day). Plus the Trek universe hasnt seen anything animated since the 70s and there currently is no liscense holder for Comic Books (excluding the Tokyo Pop 'magna comics'). There should be more to licensing than toys and action figures.
Dont forget the gaming
Trek film tie-in games have always been subpar and I hope they put more of an effort into it this time. It is worth keeping an eye on the upcoming Lost game to see how well the Lost team (which is the Trek 11 team for the most part) create an effective and well made game tie-in. Another strange coincidence is that there already is a Star Trek themed MMORPG in development and scheduled for full release in 2008 (same as Trek XI), however that game is set in the post Nemesis time period (over a century past the rumored TOS era of Trek 11. It would be interesting if they could somehow create a tie-in with the new MMORPG...its not like Trek hasn't played with time travel before.
posted by Tony P @ 7:32 PM, ,
Stewart on being in ST XI "I dont think it's going to happen"
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Earlier this year after it appeared Rick Berman and Eric Jenderson's script for Star Trek: The Beginning (which was to have a whole new cast set 100 years before the time of Kirk) was going no where, Patrick Stewart got some 'one more TNG film' buzz going. Stewart told an online magazine in March that he had 'got some calls from some money people' regarding reprising his role as Jean Luc Picard. Since that time word of Abrams being signed and a likely TOS era plot have come out. Stewart has continued to be very noncommittal on whether he would even want to be in another film
In todays Daily Telagraph Stewart discusses the idea
So could he ever be seduced by Hollywood again? Another Star Trek movie? "I have such mixed feelings about Star Trek. It's like a romantic relationship that's over. I don't think it's going to happen, but I haven't ruled it out...
"X-Men is another matter," he says, brightening. "There were all those all-may-not-be-over teasers at the end of the last one. But I have no reason to believe Hollywood will be for me what it has been. The past six months has absolutely convinced me where my real commitment lies. All I want is for Michael Boyd [artistic director of the RSC] to call me into his office and say, 'Here is a three-year contract.'"Seems too late now
JJ Abrams has already written half the first draft...if this film centers on the TNG crew and or the character of Jean Luc Picard one would imagine they would have given him a call. It is my belief that there were some within Para that considered another TNG (or at least Stewart) based film, but all indications are that Abrams wanted to do his film his way and he told TV Guide he wouldn't sign on until he saw that Paramount were open to ideas and his creative vision. Abrams has even admitted that he never saw Star Trek: Nemesis, but notes that he will watch it now to note where they went wrong!! There are still many fans of Star Trek that would love to see Picard in uniform again, but it appears that Steward has hung up his spacesuit.
posted by Tony P @ 10:44 AM, ,
ST XI Scribes Orci and Kurtzman to produce thriller for Dreamworks
Monday, July 24, 2006
Seems like Abrams isnt the only STXI writer cutting deals. Variety (via DarkHorizons.com) is reporting that Trek XI co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci will be producing a big screen adaptation of the Thomas Perry Novel "Nightlife" about a female serial killer. This is in addition to their work as writers on next summer's blockbuster in waiting Transfomers...and of course the script they are presently writing the first draft of...Star Trek XI. It seems that Paramount/DreamWorks cant get enough of these guys..who appear to be joined at the hip (they are actually best friends who started a writing partnership back in high school). Although best known for their writing, they have signed on Ehren Kruger (Brothers Grim) to do the adaptation of Nightlife.
To learn more about your Trek Writers..
Interview with the WGA
Podcast Interview with Creative Screenwriting
posted by Tony P @ 8:19 PM, ,
Star Trek XI isnt the only big comeback for the Trek franchise in 2006. This year also marked the return of Trek to the gaming community with the announcement of a deal with BethesdaSoft last January. Star Trek had been out of the gaming world since Activision sued Paramount to get out of its licensing deal back in 2003.
New PS2 game confirmed and Fontana confirmed as Legacy writer
So far Bethesda had announced 2 games: StarTrek: Legacy for the PC and Xbox 360 (with a story, now confirmed, to be written by Trek Vet DC Fontana), and Star Trek: Tactical Assault for the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. Now it appears that they can cross the console with the largest installed base off their todo list: At the 'Star Trek 41 years and counting' ComicCon panel, CBS Consumer Products Executive Paula Block announced a 3rd game called 'Star Trek: Battlestations' for the PS2 (She did also say that the name wasn't final). [NOTE: PS2 and not PS3] It is too early yet for any announcements on a game tie-in with Star Trek XI...we can only hope that sales for Bethesda's first Trek games goes well.
A different game
It is interesting that Battlestation is not a port of either Legacy or Tactical Assault but a totally new game. In describing the difference Paula Block said "if you just want a good starship shoot-em-up you get Star Trek: Battlesation, if you want a good story you can have Star Trek: Legacy". I suspect (especially with it being a PS2 game) that this game was in development before the Activision lawsuit in 2003, I find it hard to believe that they would start a PS2 project in 2006. Launch date was this fall.
posted by Tony P @ 4:53 PM, ,
I had a chance to ask Brannon Braga (C0-Creator: Star Trek Enterprise, EP: Star Trek Voyager, Producer/Writer Star Trek: The Next Generation, etc) if CBS Paramount was considering bringing Trek back to TV now that Paramount Pictures has greenlit another Trek film. He quickly responded “There are no plans for Trek on TV”. In a follow-up I asked him and the panel why (even after the success of Lost and a bit of a resurgence of ‘genre’ TV) there are no shows set in the future. The panel included fellow Trek Alum Rene Echevarria (Medium), David Goyer (Blade), Jeph Loeb (co-executive producer, Heroes), Bryan Fuller (consulting producer, Heroes), and Frank Spotnitz (Night Stalker, Star Chamber) who all agreed that TV executives are still afraid of scifi, “especially when you start talking about ships, aliens, robots and all that stuff” said Fuller.
Scifi on TV vs Film
Braga noted that although half the top grossing films are scifi/genre films, there is a limit to how scifi you can get on TV, as an example he said that he co-creator (David Goyer) were told to not mention the word ‘alien’ when promoting their now cancelled Threshold. Braga said that scifi is all about 'experimenting', then explaining the demise of his latest show he said "Threshold was an experiment that failed". Brian Fuller noted that many people who enjoy Comic Book films don't realize they are watching scifi. Braga joked that a network can have a dozen procedural crime shows on but gets nervous when they have more than one scifi show (which seems a dig CBS...home of Threshold and rights holder to Star Trek on TV). Star Trek XI’s JJ Abrams himself recently discussed this issue of the ‘scifi taboo’ on network TV by finally coming out of the closet and admitting that his mega-hit Lost is scifi to TV Guide but saying that he kept that a secret from the executives at ABC.
posted by Tony P @ 11:04 AM, ,
Comic-Con: Trek XI Producers are fans of the new Battlestar Galactica
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Lost and Trek XI producer Damon Lindelof (pictured in the middle) was asked for a reaction on Lost not being nominated for Best Dramatic Series Emmy for its second season (after winning for its first season). Lindelof exclaimed "Battlestar Galactica didnt get nominated either and thats a great show". Fellow Lost and STXI producer Bryan Burk (pictured on left), along with Lost producer Carlton Cuse (pictured on right) joined in on the praise agreeing with Lindelhof's assessment...as did the crowd of Losties who applauded the mention of Galactica.
Trek XI producers like the anti-Trek?
The much lauded Battlestar Galactica (co-created by former Trek writer/producer Ron Moore) has been touted (along with Lost) as redefining the scifi genre. Moore constantly points out how much BSG is nothing like Star Trek (or more specifically the Trek of the last decade). Battlestar Galactica could be defined as the 'anti-Trek', in his regular podcasts Moore invariably invokes Trek and how he endeavors to find a different way of doing things on each episode.That being said it is not surprising that the Star Trek XI creative team are fans of BSG, many of the recent comments coming from JJ Abrams sound very much like those of Ron Moore regarding how scifi needs to be a great drama first which needs to have realistic characters. Some hardcore Trekkies may not like the comparison or that the co-producer of Trek is a fan of the 'anti-Trek', but I believe that Trek does need a kick in the pants compared to recent outings (most of which it appears Abrams has never seen). Although Abrams has stated he wont be rewriting the canon (as Moore did with the BSG franchise) it is good to see that they are sympatico with the best scifi on TV.
Producers Lindelof and Cruse w/ Daniel Day Kim
posted by Tony P @ 10:11 PM, ,
JJ Abrams is still being non-committal about whether or not he will direct Trek XI (along with co-producing and co-writing), only going so far as saying he will 'probably' direct. The holdup is probably his multiple projects and deals...a big one of which is his work on the hit show Lost. At a Comic Con panel on Lost, Bryan Burk (Exec Producer on both Lost and Star Trek XI) revealed that JJ Abrams will only have limited involvement in season 3 of Lost. More specifically he stated that JJA will be co-writing the season opener and directing the 5th Episode (scheduled to be on this fall). Since landing the directing job for Mission Impossible 3, Abrams has been mostly absent from the shows he created for ABC (Lost and the now ended Alias). After recently signing on to produce, write and probably direct Star Trek XI (along with additional production deals with Paramount and Warner Television) it is actually surprising Abrams has any time left at all.
posted by Tony P @ 9:36 AM, ,
During a panel about various Trek issues, Mike Okuda (long time Trek graphic artist) told the audience that the set built for the Enterprise episode 'In a Mirror Darkly' is one of the many lots being auctioned off by Christie's this fall. The original series sets were of course destroyed decades ago, so Paramount spent a considerable amount of money recreating the TOS era bridge set required for that popular episode. Since then it has been in storage, but as Mr Okuda stated "storage is expensive". I spoke to the people at the Christies Star Trek Auction booth and they confirmed that the entire set is being sold as a single lot and they expect $25,000+ for it. They also said that a additional TOS era items (including uniforms) will be auctioned off, all seem to be replicas made for 'In a Mirror Darkly' or the Deep Space 9 time-travel episode 'Trials and Tribblations'
What does this mean for STXI? No TOS-era movie?
Some in attendance who wanted to see that set again on screen were shocked. Many in Trekdom have felt the Christie's Auction indicates some kind of 'death of the franchise'. Some are questioning why they would sell a TOS set if they are about to make a TOS era film...making them wonder if maybe all the indications are wrong. My view is this...Trek XI may be set in the TOS era, but it will probably be updating the production design. It was fun to see those garishly colored sets in an homage episode on TV, but they wouldn’t work on the big screen. They even knew this when they made Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. Although JJ Abrams has stated he will respect Trek 'canon', and the teaser poster does harkens back to the TOS-era uniform colors and insignia, does this mean they should slavishly use the costumes, props, models and set designs from a 60s TV show. Some purists say yes...the rest of us in the real worlds say...hire a good Production Designer. I am sure the designs for Trek XI will have many of the same features; they will also be made for film and a 21st century audience
posted by Tony P @ 3:23 AM, ,
Today at Comic Con, Eugene 'Rod' Roddenberry Jr. (son of late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) told a crowd of fans that the Roddenberry family got a call a couple day in advance of Paramount's announcement on Star Trek XI. Roddenberry said this was noteworthy because he and his mother no longer have much of a relationship with Paramount, nor any say over the rights to the future of the Star Trek franchise. Mr. Roddenberry noted that that in the 80s Paramount purchased the rights to the franchise from his late father (after the disapointing results from Star Trek: The Motion Picture). Gene Roddenberry did retain some creative control, but that lapsed after his death in 1991; leaving the Roddenberry family pretty much disconnected from Paramount and Trek. "Before they wouldn't even bother talking to us" he told the crowd.
Doesn't want to be exploited
I asked Mr. Roddenberry if he felt that they would be keeping him in the loop on developments regarding Trek XI and he said he wasnt sure, but commented "at least now there is someone I can call to talk to". Although he saw the heads up as a nice gesture. Roddenberry believes that he shouldn't (if asked) get involved with Star Trek officially. Such a move, he fears, would just be a publicity stunt...mocking the slogan "Son of Star Trek creator involved new Star Trek".
Roddenberry was at Comic-Con previewing and promoting his documentary 'Trek Nation' about his personal journey learning about his father and what his father's work meant to people. More info at Rodenberry.com
posted by Tony P @ 2:23 AM, ,
Comic-Con: 1st Trek XI Poster revealed...subtely implying Kirk & Spock storyline
Saturday, July 22, 2006
3 months to the day after the first leak hit Variety Paramount released the first teaser poster for their 11th Star Trek film at ComicCon. Even after all the confirmations and discussions about Trek XI from Abrams and even Paramount themselves (especially in the last week), there is something about a visual image that makes it seem even realer.
My quick takes:
- Kirk and Spock
- No firm date
- No name
The poster art is also adorning StarTrek.com, which had this to say.
"The production team that now holds the creative reins for the next Star Trek movie project has released a piece of artwork this weekend (to coincide with Comic-Con) that provides a Polaroid of an era past, as well as a vision yet to be revealed. With this familiar imagery, the direction of the next movie is now officially open to speculation."
For indepth geek-analysis on each point, continue reading...
1. Trek XI to be in the TOS era?
This poster just screams TOS (the Original Series). The primary image of the poster is the familiar arrowhead design that is the basic 'logo' for Star Trek...but in this case they used a very specific design, one unique to the Original Series (worn by all members of the crew of Kirk's Enterprise). This insignia is quite different than the insignia worn for the 6 'movie era' films, and the insignia for the 4 TNG crew films and all versions of Trek on TV. Not only does this indicate that we arent going to see Picard and the boys again, but that we are going back to a time before all the previous films...back to the roots of it all...also known as TOS. (or as I believe the time immediately preceding TOS).
NOTE: although the arrowhead design on all versions of Star Trek after the Original Series symbolized Starfleet as a whole, on the Original Series it was actually unique to the USS Enterprise (1701). TOS canon had each ship with its own insignia, however I do not think (although do not rule out) that the poster goes so far as to indicate the film will take place on the Enterprise or even in the exact timeframe as the Original Series.
2. Kirk and Spock can live again?
But lets get even geekier...it is gold and blue...gold on the left and blue on the right. Gold is the color of command uniforms and blue the color of science (When you click to see the full sized version you can see that the colors are even textured like the uniforms) Oh by the way, Kirk wore gold and a certain pointed eared (half) Vulcan wore blue!! Abrams and company may be being cagey...but this poster says it all. Even the article announcing it on StarTrek.com admits it by saying ' poster sends indications of direction of new movie'. Even more telling is that they now have two new STXI Desktop downloads...one called science and the other command (and none for engineering, medical or other disciplines)
Seems like they don't want to get more specific yet (like 'June 2008' or even 'summer 2008'). Abrams has already stated that he wants to move as quickly as possible, which would indicate an early summer 08 release. The problem for Paramount is that this would conflict with another genre film which they are distributing (as part of their deal with the new Marvel Studios). Just recently they gave Iron Man an early May 08 release date. Ironically Jon Favreau was only made available for Iron Man after his 2008 John Carter of Mars movie was shelved by Para to make room for Trek XI...my bet early/mid-June 2008
4. No Name
No 'Star Trek XI', No 'Trek Returns', etc etc...only Trek indication is the web address (and logo of course). It is likely that there is a bit of debate going on within the Abrams camp and/or Para on what to call the film...but they still have time. It is a big question and one that Trekkies are already debating. Will Trek even be in the name (remember the last show Enterprise didn't have the name in the title originally)...more on this naming issue in a future posting.
posted by Tony P @ 7:20 PM, ,
Trek XI blog going to ComicCon
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Well I wasnt going to go to ComicCon, but now there are a few other things going on down in SD with fam and friends (including a couple of Thievery Corporation shows)...so its roadtrip time. While in SD I plan on dropping in on ComicCon. I have never been to one of these things before so I dont know what to expect...except lots of dudes gawking at chicks dressed as spandex comic-vixens. Of course from Hollywood's point of view Comic-Con is now, as Variety puts it: "Where Hollywood courts the nerd herd". The Hollywood Reporter goes so far as to say Hollywoods yearly pilgimage to ComicCon proves 'geek' now means 'cool'. Hear that kids? time to get your lunch money back!!
Star Trek XI and ComicCon
Since it is so early in development there are no events at ComicCon associated with Star Trek XI. That being said there are quite a few events about Star Trek. StarTrek.com has a full breakdown of any event that can be tied to Trek in any way. Some of the events are actually about Trek, others just with those associated with Trek (like Moore talking about new BSG or Behr talking about 4400, etc). I certainly plan on seeing Moore and checking out the Christies Trek Auction disply. Ther are some events that may prove interesting from a Trek XI point of view though:
Star Trek: Year 41 and CountingI will be missing an event held today 'Star Trek as a Cultural Phenomenon' with Rod Rodenberry and David Brin...maybe someone can brief me on that later. There are also other various informal Trek events including some Klingon ceremony I will try and check out.
which will have some folks from CBS Paramount (but not Paramount Pictures)
About Trek fandom with Eugene Rodenberry
Lost: Season 3
Panel will include STXI producers Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk
TV Guide Presents: 2006 and Beyond
about future of scifi..panel includes Brannon Braga, Rene Echevarria, Bryan Fuller
Anytime I am anywhere near anyone who might know anything...I will try and get some info. If there is any news (or even rumors) to report about Trek XI, I will endeavor to report it ASAP (with pics and maybe vid if tech permits). I will also attempt to make at least one update to the blog while in SD regardless...time permitting.
posted by Tony P @ 11:08 AM, ,
Abrams: Trek XI "won't be like anything you've seen before"
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
After months of not hearing anything now JJA is talking to everyone! This time it is TV Guide's turn, but of course he is still being cagey about details on plot... refusing to confrim or deny 'young Kirk and Spock'. He did reveal that he is a big fan of TOS and TNG, but no so much DS9, VOY and ENT. While die-hard Trekkies may balk at this, lets face it...that is pretty much standard based on the ratings. Here is the moneyshot:
"We're in the middle of breaking the story, and it's coming along great," Abrams said. "We have an incredible beginning of a really dramatic story, and it very much honors the canon of Star Trek. On the other hand, it won't be like anything you've seen before." He adds, "I'd be happy to start sooner than Paramount thinks, but not a moment before it's ready."So there you have it...soon, canon-friendly, but different...what more can you ask
continue reading for the full text of the TV Guide interview and a comment JJA gave to Cinefantastique ...
TV Guide Interview:
Cinefantastique has an interview with Abrams mostly dealing with MI3 (the interview was probably done during the MI3 press tour) but JJA had something very interesting to say about Star Trek:
How exciting is it to find yourself in charge of resuscitating the Trek franchise? It's sort of surreal but wonderful. I'm producing and may direct.
Which of the Star Trek series were you a fan of? The original, and I thought Next Generation was terrific. I didn't really get into Deep Space or Enterprise.
What about Voyager? Not so much.
Do you own Star Trek DVDs? Oh, yeah. [Laughs] I have every DVD of every Star Trek episode from every series. I haven't seen every episode of every series, but I certainly know it well enough to be working on the movie.
When Paramount asked you to be involved in the film, did you immediately say yes? Not exactly. There have been 10 films and all these different series, so it was a question of finding out what they were anticipating. But it became clear pretty quickly that they were in a really open frame of mind. Then it became, "Hell, yeah!"
It's been reported that the film will focus on Kirk and Spock's early days and include their meeting at Starfleet Academy. You've said that was not entirely accurate. What parts are? I think we have an incredible story, but we've sort of promised each other we wouldn't talk about the specifics yet. But I can say that we're actively working on it, we're in the middle of breaking the story, and it's coming along great. I'd be happy to start sooner than Paramount thinks, but not a moment before it's ready.
Why the shroud of secrecy? It's way premature. Anything I say, people will read into it and make assumptions. But we have an incredible beginning of a really dramatic story, and it very much honors the canon of Star Trek. On the other hand, it won't be like anything you've seen before.
Do you feel any pressure taking on such a beloved franchise? I feel respectful of it. Fans of Lost don't compare to fans of Star Trek, but working on Lost gives us a view into how important it is to respect the fans.
Why do you think Star Trek continues to fascinate? It was incredibly smart television. The original series and Next Generation were about something — human nature and the idea of coming up against the unexpected and the often terrifying. It was a good story that happened to be science fiction. When I watch episodes with my 7-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter and see them so vitally respond to a show that was made the year I was born — it's not because it takes place on a spaceship. What endures isn't a genre, it's character and emotional connection.
In a sidebar, Abrams' cohorts from Lost — Damon Lindelof, who will co-produce "Trek XI," and Carlton Cuse — discuss the Emmy-winning show's sci-fi roots, including Star Trek.
"It wasn't just people beaming down to other planets," Cuse says. "Philosophical and moral issues were embedded in the stories." But the article points out that the Lost-Trek connection only goes so far. "The secret to the characters on Lost is they're not static," Cuse continues. Lindelof adds, "Spock was always Spock, Kirk always Kirk. But Locke (O'Quinn) is not the same as when we started."
CFQ : Mission: Impossible is a Paramount franchise so I wanted to ask you about another franchise from the studio : Star Trek. How do you think you'll fix that ?
Abrams : I would happily be involved in any project that Leonard Nimoy was at one point involved in, and both Star Trek and Mission: Impossible are those. I'm a real fan of Star Trek and I think there is without question life left in that series. I think that the fact that they ran so many series for so long, including an after-the-film series, is sort of remarkable, and I think that this downtime is only good for it. It needs a minute and it should exist because it's the right story, not because it's the right time to exploit an intellectual property. I think the good news is that it hasn't seen the light of day again yet because it shouldn't, but I am convinced it will soon and it's something that without question has a very bright future and done right could be as compelling as anything. The key to doing any of these things correctly is that it has to treat the situation and the characters with the exact respect and integrity that you'd treat any drama, whether it happens to be a comedy or science-fiction. You can't tell the story in a cheap or pandering way otherwise it just doesn't hold water.
posted by Tony P @ 5:33 PM, ,
Todays Daily Variety has a 3 page spread on the 40th Anniversery of Star Trek with a number of articles. Most cover the history of the franchise, the fans and fanfilms. They also got Mr Abrams to talk about Trek XI. Abrams starts of by telling Variety that he started off working on Trek at his Bar mitzvah...because none other than Nicholas Meyer was in attendance! He again confirms that he will be working with his usual suspects (Burk, Lindelof, Orci, Kurtzman, etc) and again says that it is too early to talk about plot details and again cant confirm if he will direct. He reveals that Paramount has flooded the team with 'every published Star Trek work' including the books...now that must have been a big delivery. The team he says has a variety of levels of Trek fandom, calling himself a 'big fan' (but wont go so far as calling himself a 'Trekker'), Orci 'has immediate recall of all things Trek' and Burk seems to be a newbie...giving them as he says 'all points of view'
Trek XI will be scary and not just for the hardcore
Abrams adeptly addresses the issues of appealing to both the hardcore and the general public.
"we absolutely feel beholden to the fans, but at the same time, we have to recognize that you cant' go out and make a movie or TV show for a group of people that live and breathe a show"
On his views of Trek and his approach to the film I think he really hits it out of the park:
"Star Trek to me was always about infinite possibility and the incredible imagination that Gene Rodenberry brought to that core of characters. It was a show about purpose, about faith vs. logic, about science vs. emotion, about us vs. them. It was its own world, and yet it was our world"
"Trek was always a favorite when it was a little bit scary, when they would deal with beaming something on the ship that was an incredible mystery or there was a clear threat. All of these things I loved about the series is what we're working to incorporate into the story for the movie"Sounds pretty good...and does that sound like (the often panned) 'Academy Movie'? NO. Again everything you hear from Abrams makes it clear...the Trek franchise is back and in good hands.
posted by Tony P @ 11:25 AM, ,
Just the FAQs on Star Trek XI
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Star Trek: The Blog now brings you...Star Trek XI: The FAQ . The FAQ is your one stop shop for all you need to know about Star Trek XI. It covers the basics and answers many of the burning questions (who is doing it, who is in it, etc). It also covers some of the contentious issues (can Kirk meet Spock before TOS, Why a prequel, etc). The FAQ will be updated periodically and is available on the top of the sidebar (to your right). When the FAQ is updated there will be a new post in Star Trek XI: The Blog. In addition there is a small info area on the sidebar of the blog that will have info on the status and latest goings on for the project.
Dont forget to subscibe to the RSS feed of this blog for all our news and updates
posted by Tony P @ 3:44 PM, ,
News of the JJ Abrams deal with Paramount and Warner TV hit the wires and the trades on Monday (2 days after your humble blogger brought you the news). For the most part the reports focus on how amazingly rich and powerful Mr. Abrams is about to become, but our favorite topic (Trek XI) is mentioned in almost every report...most like this tidbit in The Hollywood Reporter
Abrams already is attached to direct and produce a revival of the "Star Trek" film franchise for Paramount, which is his first project under the new feature deal.but Variety (who were first with Trek XI news in April) has a bit more info on how Paramount views the Trek franchise and Abrams place in it:
In addition to helming his first feature for Par, "Mission: Impossible III," Abrams has been put in charge of resuscitating its "Star Trek" franchise by producing and developing an 11th edition. ... It's a very clear strategic move," said Par prexy Gail Berman. "We worked with J.J. through 'Mission: Impossible III' and we got to see his abilities in a large movie. We talked about 'Star Trek' and turning the biggest franchise in Paramount history for a rebirth; then this was the natural progression."Even our old friend George Takei (Sulu) got into Abrams buttkissing act.... Over the weekend he (along with Voyager's Ensign Kim: Garret Wang) sung Abrams praises at a panel at the Toronto Trekker Conference:
Takei: You know the last star Trek series "Where George is getting this info I dont know...but it does seem to jibe with other reports that it was Abrams and not Paramount that started the ball rolling on Trek. His last comment about Trek XI was pondering "I wonder what young Sulu was doing"...Give it up George...they are not going to give you a job.
Enterprise" was not very popular and the last Star Trek movie failed and had decided they aren’t going to do anymore Star Trek. However there is a big Star Trek fan who also happens to be a very quality director, he directed Mission Impossible III. And he told Paramount Paramount“the picture I want to do is a Star Trek movie” and he pitched the idea and sold them on an idea that the powers-that-be had decided they weren’t going to do anymore Paramount
Wang: JJ Abrams, good luck to him. He does the right thing, lets put it that way. It’s truly incredible, it’s a worldwide phenomenon if you think about that. It’s the only show where you can go to any contintenet and they are going to know about it..people know it.
Another interesting quote from Paramount President Gail Berman is this
"The kind of stories J.J.'s interested in are very different," Berman said. "On one hand, he can be interested in something like Star Trek, but on the other hand, he created Felicity, which is more intimate storytelling. To be interested in both is a rare thing."I guess what she is saying is 'he can make chick flicks too'. Along with Para Chairman Brad Grey's comment about Abrams being a 'tripple threat' (producer, writer, director) it seems that Paramount thinks Abrams is their new jack of all trades.
posted by Tony P @ 12:17 AM, ,
Shatner Reacts (and Reacts) to Damon as Kirk Rumors
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Much has been made about the recent rumor reported by the Insider that JJ Abrams wants Matt Damon to be the next Captain Kirk. The original report specifically said that JJ Abrams sought and recieved Shatner's blessing. Since then USA Today reported Shatner as OKing Damon as young Kirk, quoting him ""I think it's great. The tragedy is that when somebody else is playing you younger, you're really old." Now StarTrek.com is getting into the mix saying sources 'close to Shatner' claim Abrams seeking his advice is 'news to him' going on to say he hasn't heard anything from Abrams or the producers of Star Trek XI. So there you have it...clear as mud.
BTW: Damon friend Kevin Smith has his doubts as well, but suggests that if True Ben Affleck should play Spock!!! (My vote: Damon Yes...Affleck No)
One creative Shatner fan has come up with his own version of how he thinks Shatner might react to Damon as Kirk.
Although funny, Shatner fans should remember that Shatner was on board for(Star Trek II-V producer) Harve Bennet's Academy idea with recast young Kirk and Spock over a decade ago (that idea was shelved in favor of Nick Meyer's cold-war themed Star Trek VI)
My view is that, if true, it is a good sign that Abrams and Paramount are looking for brand-named starts to help relaunch the Trek Franchise. Plus looking at older stars and not kids indicates the film would focus on Kirk as a junior officer and not as a much younger cadet (something that would please critics who don't want to see an 'Academy Film')
posted by Tony P @ 5:13 PM, ,
Paramount signs JJ Abrams for Star Trek XI and multipicture deal
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Was Trek the clincher?
It has been reported that Paramount's Brad Grey has been actively pursuing Lost co-creator and MI3 Writer/Director JJ Abrams to sign on with Paramount after his deal with Disney ended this summer. Although Abrams had many suitors (Sony, Disney, Warner, etc) Grey had something the other studios didnt...Star Trek. Grey went so far as sheving another scifi project (Jon Favreau's John Carter of Mars ) in the pipeline for 2008 to make room for a new Trek feature. Getting hold of this venerable (but now dormant) scifi franchise was a fanboy dream and something it appears that Abrams and his band of brothergeeks couldn't resist. On Saturday the LA Times is reported (reg required) that Paramount had finally got their man for Trek XI and beyond.
Abrams Lands TV, Film DealsWas Trek the sole reason Abrams went with Paramount?? Probably not, but the fact that Grey took Trek off the backburner and handed it to Abrams was quite the show of faith in the young director. This deal makes clear that Grey and Paramount are happy with Abrams direction of MI3 and don't fault him (or his team of producers and writers) for its below expectations results. That being said it appears they arent too happy with Cruise, Variety recently reported that Paramount is considering not renewing the production deal for Cruise/Wagner which expires this summer (or at the very least reducing the cost of the deal). Here is the money quote from Grey:
After months of on-again, off-again negotiations that pitted the major Hollywood studios against one another, producer J.J. Abrams has cinched separate multiyear movie and television deals at Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Television that together are worth more than $55 million.
At midnight Thursday, at Paramount's Melrose Avenue lot, Abrams' representatives finalized the terms of a five-year movie deal with the Viacom Inc.-owned studio.
Paramount guaranteed Abrams $2 million a year for five years and another $2 million a year for Bad Robot overhead. He also will receive an annual $500,000 discretionary fund.
For the first movie he directs, which the studio hopes will be a "Star Trek" film, Abrams will get $5 million plus some back-end profit if the movie is a hit.
"We think J.J. is the next Steven Spielberg," said Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey, who had been pursuing Abrams to make Paramount his movie home base since late last year when Abrams was prepping "M:I:3." "He's a triple threat: a great writer, producer and now, a first-class movie director."
As for ST XI...the one thing that I thought could derail ST XI was if another studio signed Abrams...but that isn't a worry anymore. It appears that Trek XI is gonna happen. In the past Abrams and team have said the original Variety article from April 20th announcing STXI was an unofficial leak. I speculated it was an overzelous Paramount PR person trying to show the rest of the contenders that they already nailed down Abrams. Hopefully this means we will get some more official words about Trek XI from Abrams and/or Paramount in the near future.
It is also worth noting that Abrams will have final cut. Not only that, but Paramount took the unusual step of announcing that longtime Trek Producer Rick Berman was not associated with Trek XI way back in April. Compared to previous Trek film projects that were wall to wall egos and executives, it appears that Abrams will have an unprecedented amount of creative control. So for good or for ill, JJ Abrams and his band of brothers are in the drivers seat of the Trek franchise
posted by Tony P @ 9:11 PM, ,