Since TrekMovie.com first announced Paramount (and MI3) veteran Stratton Leopold was going to be the unit production manager and one of the executive producers for the new Star Trek we have not heard anything from him. He did join the usual Abrams mafia (Orci, Kurtzman, Burk, and Lindelof) on stage at Comic-Con, but he didn’t say a word. Leopold is more of a behind the scenes kind of guy keeping the trains running on time, but he did give his local paper the (The Savannah Morning News) an interview where he dropped an interesting tidbit about Shatner:
Leonard Nimoy will be back as Spock, said Leopold, and studio executives still hope to convince William Shatner to suit up as Captain Kirk one more time.
Convince Shatner? Isn’t that the other way around?
Up until now we have been led to believe that discussions regarding Shatner were internal to the creative team trying to figure out how to work Shatner into the film. Shatner himself has certainly got the message out he is literally ‘waiting for the call.’ So the only ‘convincing’ would be Shatner convincing Abrams and his team to put him in the movie. It is possible that this is what Leopold was referring to and it was taken out of context or misquoted. It is also possible that the writer (who in his defense is a local reporter and not an entertainment journalist following this story) just put that in and wasn’t up to speed on the latest status of the Shatner story. If that is the case then there is nothing to see here and we can move on…nothing new.
…but what if?
If Leopold actually did state that ‘studio execs hope to convince Shatner’ and it is true, then perhaps we are back to a familiar stage in Trek productions were Shatner is negotiating with the Paramount. Most recently Shatner and Paramount failed to come to terms on a deal for him to appear on Star Trek Enterprise. It is worth bearing in mind that one of Leopold’s duties is overseeing the budget for the film…something Shatner would clearly have a bearing on. Another possibility is that the studio execs are also trying to convince Abrams to put Shatner into the film. However, Abrams deal gives him quite a bit of control unlike previous producers and directors (remember this is the first Trek film that is being co-produced by another production company…in this case Abrams’ Bad Robot).
UPDATE: is it a conspiracy?
Yet another possibility is the conspiracy theory that this is all some kind of hoax. This theory has been put forward by a number of TrekMovie.com community members and has shown up elsewhere. Yesterday FilmStalker ran an article based on TrekMovie.com’s recent con reports titled ‘Shatner Faking Star Trek exclusion?‘: If this is really a hoax then I for one am not laughing. It is fine to say ‘no comment’ or be vague in order to keep a secret, but in this case it would mean there has been a very pro-active campaign of deception that is clearly upsetting a lot of fans. That being said, this whole thing is generating a lot of publicity (the Shatner controversy is on Yahoo News today). This site has been very supportive of the film makers and this film to date. If it turns out that this was all a joke that is not something I will support. I love a good joke, but this one is not funny.
So there you have it, yet another wrinkle in the never ending saga that is ‘will Shatner be in the new Star Trek movie.’ Tune in soon for the next exciting chapter (cue dramatic music).
Full interview at The Savannah Morning Times
Trek Team at Comic-Con (Left to right) Burk, Leopold, Kurtzman, Orci, Lindelof & Abrams