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Rick Berman Talks Marlon Brando In Star Trek, The Future of Trek on TV & More

Star Trek’s former overlord Rick Berman has been taking some fan questions at the official site, opining on issues ranging from why no gays in Trek to actors almost cast (like Marlon Brando for Soran in Generations). Berman also gave his opinion about the future of the franchise. See below for excerpts and a breakdown.

 

Berman on the future of Star Trek – expects new TV series, but not with him

Star Trek producer Rick Berman answered some fan submitted questions at the official Star Trek site, and some of the most interesting dealt with his views on the future of the franchise he oversaw for 18 years. Here is Berman opining on what we can expect next:

I certainly think that J.J. Abrams will continue making films with the characters that he has reconceived, in a sense, from the Original Series. And I would not be surprised if he and his writers end up being involved in a new series at some point. I can’t imagine that there won’t be a new series on television. But I don’t believe that new series will be a continuation or tying up of loose ends of Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise.

Going on, the former Star Trek producer admits that even though he believes there will be a new series he says it is "anybody’s guess" where it might go in terms of setting (future, prequel, alternative reality, etc.). But one thing Berman does seem sure of is that he will have no part in it, saying:

I think my 18 years of Star Trek had some great highs and some definite lows, but I think it’s time for new people to come in and breathe some fresh air into whatever gets done in the future.

Brando for Soran? + more More from Berman on various issues:

More highlights from his Q&A:

  • Marlon Brando expressed interested in Soran (Generations) but wanted too much money, met both Isabella Rossellini & Nastassja Kinski for Borg Queen (First Contact) those didn’t work out, hoped for "small cameo" for Tom Hanks (First Contact or Insurrection), but again didn’t work out
  • Berman says he was "insulted" by online speculation on why he stopped using composer Ron Jones on Star Trek: The Next Generation, saying his reasoning was that the music was "’somewhat flamboyant" and "calling attention to itself", noting "the scene is not there to enhance the music"
  • Dismisses critiques that he "killed" Kirk and Data, and says that it is only some hardcore fans that most fans are not "hypercritical"
  • On canon critiques says "we did our best to stay true to it, and sometimes we didn’t succeed"
  • Says the notion that he and Michael Piller stole the idea for DS9 from JM Straczynski is "amusing" because they didn’t even know who Straczynski was
  • Open to the notion that Enterprise could have done better in syndication or on Fox or NBC (who had expressed interest), but that it is "all Monday morning quarterbacking"
  • Says that there were many discussions about a gay character but felt that "seeing two men or two women in Ten-Forward holding hands was not really going to be an effective way of dealing with it" and it was better handled "in a more abstract science-fiction way" and dealing with same sex relationships and AIDS "metaphorically"
  • Reveals that he didn’t know the original Star Trek when first hired and even by 2001 had still only seen "two-thirds to three-quarters" of it, but that he relied on people like the Okudas, David Rossi and Manny Coto to "point us in the right direction when we screwed up"
  • Says if he had to do it all over again he would "pay more attention to the fans"


Malcolm McDowell as Soran in "Star Trek Generations" (1994) and Marlon Brando in "don Juan DeMarco" (1995) – Brando interested in Soran but wanted too much $$$

For all the details visit StarTrek.com: Part 1 & Part 2.

 

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March 2, 2011 8:51 pm

Good Heavens! Island of Dr. Moreau Marlon Brando?

Anthony Thompson
March 2, 2011 8:53 pm

Brando and Kinski! Wow! My favorite actor and actress. To have them tied into Trek would have been wonderful!

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
March 2, 2011 9:00 pm

I would have paid Brando anything to get him in Trek. That would have given Generations a Big time Star and who knows what would have happned to Trek if Marlon Brando got into Trek. Also. Berman was right about one thing. He should have listned to us fans.

Marvin the Martian
March 2, 2011 9:23 pm

Rick Berman clearly has terrible taste in music.

Bringbacktrekagain!
March 2, 2011 9:31 pm

I thought it odd that ‘suddenly’ in Generation’s they had to have Kirk die. Just didn’t make sense to me, nor did the Nexus, which leaves me thinking there’s another Kirk stuck in it, since after all there is another Guinan in there too?????

MDSHiPMN
March 2, 2011 9:33 pm

Greg2600, that is the best Brando ever.

Him + Val + awesome cgi = best movie ever.

Johnathan Rutgar McManus
March 2, 2011 9:41 pm

I think JJ Abrams has no idea what he’s doing, has no respect for the genre, Gene Roddenberry is spining in his grave. Whats it gonna take to ge some decent writting for this franchise, Stargate had plenty of good writhers in the first 9 seasons, we all know what happened there! Please its not that hard! Stop writting for a bunch of 12 year old boys! You got to be freaking kidding me!

davidfuchs
March 2, 2011 9:43 pm

@4

He has a point, actually. Sometimes you can have great music that’s too powerful for its own good as a score. I haven’t watched enough TNG recently to tell if that’s a valid critique, but I can get that feeling from the CDs.

On the other hand, I think McCarthy’s music had the exact opposite problem: being incredibly generic for most aspects and thus acting merely as sonic filler, rather than enhancing the scene or playing up what the audience should feel.

Jeff O'Connor
March 2, 2011 9:54 pm

I’ve always preferred McCarthy’s music but whenever I’ve told people my reasoning I’ve been laughed at. I imagine that won’t change now but it’s fun to see Berman stating things exactly as I always have — Ron’s music was just too damned attention-grabbing for its own good, even if by extension it’s much more enjoyable to listen to on its own.

At any rate, as I’ve said on a few other sites reporting this interview, I like that Berman has come and said that if he could change anything it would be to have listened to the fans more. I’ve never hated the guy — granted I was only seventeen when his tenure ended with the cancellation of Enterprise, anyway — but I’ve never hated the guy and wish him well.

He definitely hit some blatant lows with the franchise but he also did a fantastic job with some bedazzling heights. You deserve more respect than you tend to get, Rick, even if a lot of the criticisms leveled against you are strong ones.

Magic_Al
March 2, 2011 10:04 pm

Brando is a fascinating what-if because the character would have been whatever Brando wanted to do. It might have been brilliant, bizarre, a train wreck, or all at once. The idea of Brando killing Capt. Kirk — I don’t know what it is, but it’s something.

kmart
March 2, 2011 10:12 pm

The only reason Jones’ stuff might be considered too attention-getting is because the visuals were so understated, low-contrast, poorly-staged et. al. that ANY emotion at all would be upstaging and overamping the scene in most TNG. The show rarely used steadicam and was friggin’ awful at staging fight scenes (look at DS9’s WotW and you can see what we did NOT get on TNG), but Jones’ music was good, just better than the show for the most part.

Chattaway’s first and only great score is TIN MAN, and that overamps things like vintage TOS … and it works!

Brando and Shatner bumping bellies on a bridge would be going a bridge too far for me, but it is fun to imagine how he would have slurred ‘time is the fire in which we burn.’

Can’t say enuf bad stuff about Berman.

Red Dead Ryan
March 2, 2011 10:12 pm

In my opinion, I find that the best Trek music all came from the movies. Generally the music from all of the series I find to be merely okay, not great. The “Amok Time” and “Best Of Both Worlds” music were the exception. Those episodes had great music.

But I think movies are friendlier for memorable themes and pieces because there are no commercials, plus there’s twice the amount of time to devote to epic music. Also, a movie gives more time for composers to fine-tune their music to the themes as well as allowing for more creative opportunities. A weekly series doesn’t allow for much creativity because of time and budget constraints. Plus the music is often recycled.

Sebastian
March 2, 2011 10:13 pm

Brando was a fine actor (as “On The Waterfront” “Godfather” or “Streetcar Named Desire” will testify), but in 1996, he was far too overweight and too deep in his ‘ponytail/caftan-wearing’ stage to really, IMO, be a viable candidate for the role.

Besides, Malcolm McDowell fit the role like a glove. It all worked out (I’m not a big NG fan, but I kind of liked “Generations” for some reason).

Red Dead Ryan
March 2, 2011 10:18 pm

11

“Brando and Shatner bumping bellies on a bridge would be going a bridge too far for me…”

And that bridge would’ve had to have been pretty big to fit the both of them!

boborci
March 2, 2011 10:43 pm

i can’t imagine being a part of anything for 18 years. That is not something I will do.

T'Cal
March 2, 2011 10:46 pm

While there are some good scenes in GEN but I get more aggravated by its gaping plot holes each time I watch it. It was a lost opportunity. Even Brando couldn’t have saved it.

Red Dead Ryan
March 2, 2011 10:48 pm

15

So the plan is still going to be three movies and that’s it?

boborci
March 2, 2011 10:51 pm

maybe only two. i don’t know. maybe more than 3. but 18 years!!!??? fresh blood needed long before that!

vulcannonibird
March 2, 2011 10:56 pm

I think they should leave tng, ds9 and titan to the novels- they are well done. Only sad Thing was that the ds9 relaunch was going down with warpath. I just re-read avatar to unity- great stufe.

Hope after good destiny and typhoon pakt they will continue…

March 2, 2011 10:59 pm

I don’t think adding Marlo to the mix would have saved Generations. In fact, I think Malcolm McDowell was actually one of the better things about that movie. I will forever think of the guy as Soran.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
March 2, 2011 11:00 pm

Hey Bob you are tight. keeping fresh Ideas is the smart thing to do.
As Kirk said in Trek 4. Young minds fresh ideas be tollerant.
Bob. We are all very tollerant of you and the court.

Red Dead Ryan
March 2, 2011 11:03 pm

18

I guess the third movie depends on whether the second is a success. But yeah, 18 years is too long. I suppose ten for most people would be ideal, when it comes to writing for Trek at least.

But who knows? Maybe a breakthrough in cloning will allow for two Bob Orcis, you the original can move on after the (potential) third movie while the clone could continue for awhile afterwards on a new series!

KalEl
March 2, 2011 11:10 pm

Rick Berman continues to be a complete douche. Thank goodness he is no longer running Star Trek. “Should have listened to the fans more”?! Exactly! That’s why Enterprise was canceled. He brought in Manny Coto, who DID listen to the fans, way too late to save the series, which Coto was on his way to doing before the network cancelled it. Berman puts it lightly here, back in the day he actually said he didn’t care what the fans thought and that we didn’t know anything about what we wanted. Basically a superiority complex.

And he only saw 2/3rds of Star Trek?! Who runs this whole franchise without watching the entire foundation?!

Vultan
March 2, 2011 11:36 pm

#18

Leave it at two films, Bob. Puuurdy please…

Trek in 2012. Nolan finishing his Batman trilogy in 2012. Sounds like perfect timing to me to let ole Chris take a crack at Roddenberry’s creation. Or perhaps Duncan Jones… or maybe just take Trek back to TV where it’s done [most] of its best work. Of course, the stars will have to align—and Les Moonves will have to be booted out of his command chair—before that ever happens.

Fingers crossed.

Dr. Cheis
March 2, 2011 11:36 pm

Generations would have been even more disappointing with Brando in it. The movie wouldn’t have been any better because of him, but our expectations would have been higher.

Cygnus-X1
March 2, 2011 11:42 pm

“…but I think it’s time for new people to come in and breathe some fresh air into whatever gets done in the future.”

He thinks? Firstly, who honestly cares what he thinks about the direction of Trek now that he’s finally left it? Are people lining up to ask Rick Berman for his sagacious advice about the future of Trek? Does he think that they are?

But, secondly, most or all of us agree with the objective portion of his statement: Rick Berman being replaced has been, continues to be, and will ever be, a good thing.

March 2, 2011 11:52 pm

@Orci @Kurzman @all

I hope very much, they will produce a new series before I (age 41) am too old to see it ;)

Abrams and in every case Kurzman and Orci should produce this new series, maybe with some input of Berman.

Whats about a tng series with new characters, but in a changing universe? It begins in timeline 1 and the Enterprise D or E or whatever is rushing into one of those damned anomalies, so they switch from time to time from timeline 1 to timeline 2, whre Vulcan is destroyed and so on. I think, they could make something great out of this idea and maybe it would be also the possibility to bring the timeline 1 – tng somehow to a more famous end than with nemesis (that i loved although)!?

March 2, 2011 11:53 pm

#27

my bad english… i mean not “new characters”, but new actors! sorry!

Andrew
March 2, 2011 11:57 pm

Okay Bob Orci,

We may disagree on the height needed to be a Klingon, but how about Paul Giamatti as Jean Luc Picard in a reimagined TNG series?

I know, why would he do a tv series…but still, a man can dream.

Joel1245
March 3, 2011 12:06 am

The problem with Brando is that he was always wanting too much money. That’s why they took him out of Superman II.

Bugs Nixon
March 3, 2011 12:15 am
Hating on Rick Berman is only a relatively new thing, brought about only because of voices on the internet. He was loved and appreciated for most of his time. This attitude towards him only really occurred after Insurrection, which was far worse than Nemesis. If RB made any mistakes, it actually was to listen to the hardcore fans and it seems from this interview, he would repeat this mistake if he had the reigns again. A tiny tiny teeny microscopically small fraction of hardcore voices tend to drown everyone else out – it’s a silly, poorly informed voice too, that any smart producer shouldn’t listen to. I like the way Bob Orci works, he gives the fans the sense that they have a direct effect on the content but he is actually able to filter out the bull that doesn’t work. Too much canon is a bad thing. Listening to hardcore fans is also a bad thing. Making repetitive formulaic inward looking stories is not box office gold either. A fan watching DVD’s of Voyager does not make you a television executive. Star Trek failed eventually because it had become routine and unremarkable – at that point, the formula had become obvious… there always is a formula to Trek, but it’s how well it is used to express fun philosophical, themes and values that strike a chord with a mass audience. JJ did it right. Firstly, he set out to make an entertaining adventure film with some fun philosophy and… Read more »
Surak1701
March 3, 2011 12:35 am

Tom Hardy as Picard in the TNG remake. ;-)

Cygnus-X1
March 3, 2011 12:43 am

31. Bugs Nixon

—-Hating on Rick Berman is only a relatively new thing, brought about only because of voices on the internet. He was loved and appreciated for most of his time. This attitude towards him only really occurred after Insurrection, which was far worse than Nemesis.—-

Well, I don’t know on whose behalf you purport to be speaking, but your opinion is not shared by me. My feelings about Rick Berman are very simple: the more boring, uninspired and ultimately uninteresting that Star Trek became, the more I blamed the head honcho, the man whose name was first and foremost all over all of the stuff that I was increasingly finding dissatisfying—Rick Berman. And this dissatisfaction began well before I’d ever read anything on the Web.

That’s it. As far as I’m concerned, the buck stopped with him, and I am neither persuaded nor interested in an endless parade of apologetics on his behalf. He put his name all over it. He wanted to be the boss. He’s gotta take the responsibility. Period.

And you’re 0 for 2 regarding the TNG films, because I enjoyed Insurrection despite its many flaws, but found Nemesis to be a travesty not quite as bad as Generations, but battling with STV for 2nd worst Trek film.

March 3, 2011 12:43 am

I think Rick Berman gets too much criticism and anger for his work on Star Trek. He did everything he could to adhere to Gene Roddenberry’s vision. Brent Spiner said of Berman:

“Rick more than anybody else protected Gene Roddenberry’s vision. There were times we wanted to do things in an episode, and Rick would be, ‘No, no, no. Gene wouldn’t want that and that’s not what Star Trek is about.’” (TrekMovie article link below.)

He wasn’t a perfect man. I certainly disagree with his opinion that Ron Jones music called too much attention to itself. Jones’ music was strong melodically and harmonically bringing an emotional resonance. Of course, it’s “The Best of Both Worlds” soundtrack that is Jones best known. What happend after Jones was musical wallpaper with all due respect to Jay Chattaway, his approach was inappropriate dissonance.

But after watching the shows, he helped to create, Voyager, DS9, and Enterprise, he’s carried on Gene’s vision. The more I see of Enterprise, the more I like it. It didn’t help that Paramount put the show on UPN where it played on low powered TV stations like here in Cincinnati. It would have been better if Enterprise had run on Sci-Fi, or TNT. Today, it would be better to run such a show on AMC, SyFy, or TNT.

Spiner defends Berman and Abrams
http://trekmovie.com/2008/12/10/spiner-comes-to-the-defense-of-rick-berman-and-jj-abrams/

Bugs Nixon
March 3, 2011 1:06 am

33. Cygnus-X1

Thanks for the response. Read on and you’ll see I am blaming him… for listening to what hardcore fans wanted… more canon – which results in safe introverted formulaic patterns – in fact I won’t use the word routine, I think ‘lazy’ is more appropriate.

Trek became a factory production line of product based on a brand that RB thought fans wanted. It didn’t work. In the end he let it slip into a brand.

Look at how Nick Meyer breathed life into the film franchise [ensuring its future], which was creatively at odds with what Rodenberry himself thought was right.

Star Trek works best when it recoils away from what perceived wisdom says it should be. Meyer innovated based on the materials he was presented with.

I hated Insurrection and Nemesis because they were lazy production line scripts, Generations scores points with me because at least it tried. in my view, banality and safeness is a far worse sin than trying and failing.

Vultan
March 3, 2011 1:35 am

Not sure what happened to Chattaway after “Tin Man,” which is one of my favorites, but maybe Berman told him to tone it down if he wanted to keep his job.

Anyway, firing Ron Jones is the only beef I have with Berman. Well, that and his strict view of “what Gene would’ve wanted.” That was the same mistake Disney made in the immediate years after Walt passed away. They tried to keep it the same, which anyone familiar with Walt Disney knows he was never satisfied with the status quo. But I digress.

captain_neill
March 3, 2011 2:06 am

There were different showrunners under Berman, DS9 had Ira Behr. THere was Michael Pillar, Jeri Taylor and Manny Coto to name a few.

Rick Berman might have been there for too long but I still loved a lot of Trek done under his watch, a lot of which I still prefer over Abrams latest movie.

I believe he tried his best to mainstain Gene’s vision while tweaking a few things.

Now Abrams made a good movie and respects some of the ideals of Roddenberry but did give the film a more Star Wars vibe. The movies will continue to be good but I do feel that they will be going slightly more away from Roddenberry’s ideals to appease the mainstream crowds.

As long as the films are recognisable as Star Trek I will still be there, just because they are no longer canon and now in a parallel universe I can still enjoy it. But the moment the current movies are not recognisable as Star Trek then that’s when I will really be pissed off.

Greg
March 3, 2011 2:27 am

Berman is an idiot. Jone’s music was in the tradition of great Trek scores, going back to TOS. It’s called “space opera” for a reason, Rick!

And I will NEVER forgive him (or Les Moonives at CBS/Paramount) for pulling the rug out from under Manny and the Reeves-Stevenses.

Devon
March 3, 2011 2:27 am

“The movies will continue to be good but I do feel that they will be going slightly more away from Roddenberry’s ideals to appease the mainstream crowds.”

By Roddenberry’s ideals do you mean the “ideals” of the truly talented people who actually came up with them who weren’t Roddenberry? In that case, I’m not too worried about that honestly.

captain_neill
March 3, 2011 2:39 am

39

It’s a group effort but Roddenberry started it off.

I don’t want to see a film that is unrecognisable as Star Trek and only Trek in name only.

Jack2211
March 3, 2011 2:40 am

I’ve gleefully complained about the staleness of post-TNG Trek for years, but, you know, it could have been a hell of a lot worse.

I’m hoping for some strange new worlds and snappy dialogue in the next one. But it really is nice to not know what to expect.

Dom
March 3, 2011 3:39 am
Roddenberry’s original ***concept*** for Star Trek (people in straitjackets have visions!) was at considerable variance to what was made when all the other talented writers an producers shaped the idea. ‘Gene’s Vision’ is a fraud, clung on to by Berman because he didn’t have the imagination to take Trek in an interesting direction of his own. His remarks about Ron Jones show him to be a cloth-eared dunce! What I surmise from Berman’s remarks is that he’s an arrogant man with precious little creative talent who got drunk on the power rush or being ‘Mr Star Trek.’ You only have to read remarks by the likes of Ron Moore to realise that they had to fight Berman all the way to make the Trek shows interesting. The remarks attributed to Brent Spiner couldn’t be more wrong. When Gene’s dead you don’t give a damn what he would think about the show! The man’s dead, he’s not living in this world and reacting to what’s going on in it! Berman’s slavish adherence to the supposed ‘Gene’s Vision’ smothered creativity in Star Trek, trapping it in a 1980s production timewarp. 1960s Star Trek was relevant. 2000s TV Trek was simply a 1980s TV series with better effects! Rodders himself was lost in his utopian dreams by the time David Gerrold developed TNG for him. Gerrold would have made a much more interesting show had he been allowed to run it. Read the Encounter at Farpoint novelisation and see how, while much is… Read more »
Devon
March 3, 2011 3:40 am

“39

It’s a group effort but Roddenberry started it off.”

He conceived it. Others raised it while he showed up for the parent/teacher conferences every once in a while. One thing I like about J.J. is that he’s humble enough not to hog all the credit.

In this case, can you clarify what specific ideals you’re asking about?

Geek_Girl
March 3, 2011 3:47 am

Pssst Bob, I have a great idea for a new series, come closer and I’ll whisper it in your ear *glares at other posters* . I was hoping to be able to produce it myself one day, but I suppose the court might be capable of doing it.

James
March 3, 2011 4:40 am

Im sure Bob will sort out the Tom Hanks casting issue

Nick Cook
March 3, 2011 5:20 am

Never ever understood all the hate spewed at Berman. He’s a human being; some of his work was great, some of it was mediocre, and some of it awful.

Overall, I liked a great deal of the Trek produced on his watch, and I’m certainly interested in hearing what he has to say.

Thanks for keeping my favourite show alive for so long, Rick.

I'm Dead Jim!
March 3, 2011 5:32 am

There were some things I liked about Generations but I think the film would have been a low point in Brando’s career.

captain_neill
March 3, 2011 5:56 am

46

Never have I, a lot of great Trek was made under his watch. Yes he made some mistakes but the great stuff outweighs the mistakes.

Carmichael3
March 3, 2011 6:12 am

As long as the new series is not another reboot then that’ll be good. TNG era doesn’t need reboooting. Prime Universe future would be nice, I’m personally more of a sequel than a prequel guy

March 3, 2011 6:18 am

It would’ve been just another paycheck for Brando and a complete disaster for Generations. I doubt the script would be able to cope with him improving stuff on the spot. He was doing music videos and trading off his film star image at that point, instead of bringing his A-game.

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