Berman Refutes Sirtis Assertion That Roddenberry ‘Hated’ Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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Over the weekend TrekMovie reported on the Star Trek: TNG reunion event at NYCC, which included a comment from Marina Sirtis about how Gene Roddenberry would have felt about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Today DS9 co-creator Rick Berman responded to Sirtis’ assertion. More details below.

Berman Responds to Marina Sirtis Comment About Roddenberry and DS9

As TrekMovie reported, cast members from Star Trek: The Next Generation gathered at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, NY on Friday, October 10th for a question-and-answer event. One audience member asked the panel of actors how Star Trek changed following series creator Gene Roddenberry’s death in 1991. In response, Marina Sirtis offered the following regarding Roddenberry’s opposition to the concept for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

“The truth is that if Gene (Roddenberry) was alive- had been alive- DS9 would have never been made, because he absolutely said “no” to it when it was presented to him. He said ‘Star Trek is about exploring space, it’s not about a hotel in space.’ So, it would never have happened.”

Rick Berman continued to guide Star Trek: The Next Generation following Roddenberry’s death in October of 1991, and he also co-created Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with Michael Piller, which premiered in January of 1993.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine co-creators Michael Piller and Rick Berman on the DS9 promenade set

Presumably in response to Marina Sirtis’ statement from last Friday’s event, Berman tweeted the following today:

Further elaborating on this point, he also said the following:

Deep Space Gene?

Rick Berman offered a somewhat different account in an interview he gave on May 31, 2006, conducted by the Archive of American Television, which is part of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. TrekMovie reported on this wide-ranging interview in 2009 [click here to see video]:

"When Gene died, both Michal Piller and I were involved in creating and writing Deep Space Nine, and we never really got a chance to talk to him about it because he was quite ill at that point. But even with Deep Space Nine and later Voyager, and Enterprise I felt it was important that as long as something had the Star Trek name on it that it stayed true to Gene’s belief of what Star Trek was all about."

In Pocket Books’ "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion" (published in 2000), Rick Berman similarly stated that he and Roddenberry did not discuss ideas related to the show:

"I really never had the opportunity to discuss any ideas with Gene [Roddenberry]. This was very close to the end of Gene’s life, and he was quite ill at the time. But he knew that we were working on something, and I definitely had his blessing to develop it."

Based on statements from both Sirtis and Berman (from today and through past interviews), it is unclear what Roddenberry knew and thought of Deep Space Nine. Berman stated today that he shared concepts and characters with Roddenberry, but Berman’s previous statements characterize this matter differently. Also, whether Roddenberry could have stopped Deep Space Nine from going into production (which Sirtis implied from her appearance last Friday) is unlikely, as Roddenberry’s objections to previous Star Trek films (including 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) went largely ignored. This point is worth noting: even during his lifetime, Roddenberry did not own or control Star Trek. Ultimately, his was a significant voice, but not the final say.

However, the gaps in the record remain: what specifically did Roddenberry know about Deep Space Nine? If Roddenberry knew of ideas and/or characters, were they relevant to what became the actual series? And finally, what did Gene express to others about those ideas? Having these answers will hopefully settle the contradictions discussed above.

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Rick Berman, Gene Roddenberry, Michael Piller and cast celebrating the shooting of the 100th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (“Redemption, Part 1”) in April 1991 – six month before Roddenberry’s death.

For fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, none of this may really matter. If you like the show, will that really change based on what Gene Roddenberry may have said about it a year before it went into production? On that note about fans of the show, Berman had one more tweet today, noting the contribution of two of the key producers (and the writers) for DS9.

Rick Berman: TrekMovie Reader

The NYCC article isn’t the only TrekMovie piece Rick Berman has been reading lately. On Friday Berman sent out a tweet pointing to our exclusive interview with Nick Meyer (see below).

 

POLL: DS9 Roddenberry Trek?

Do you think DS9 fits in with Gene Roddenberry’s Trek? Vote in our new poll and sound off in the comments below.

[poll id=”741″]

 

 

 

Adam Cohen is a member of PreOrder66.com, a toy collecting podcast, who also writes obsessively about Star Trek and his cat on his Twitter feed @TheJackSack

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Not sure why this is a story. DS9 was great, even if it wasn’t very treky, especially the later, morally ambiguous stories that everyone thinks Roddenberry wouldn’t have approved of.

Rick Berman checks in here? Interesting.

I think the thing to consider here in the comments is that the article or opinions therein aren’t about the quality of DS9, but rather to the question of whether it fits with Roddenberry’s vision of the future.

Personally I don’t believe Roddenberry would have sanctioned DS9. But that being said, I doubt he would have sanctioned a lot of the things that happened in TNG after he left either.

TNG was the last true Trek

DS9 was the closest to the original spirit of Trek of any of the spinoffs, with TNG second (VOY and ENT (seasons 1-3, and the series finale) in the realm of bad fan fiction).

#4: Elitist garbage. There’s no such thing as “true” Trek. Each of the six TV shows and each of the 12 films have been Star Trek. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t make them any less Star Trek. Intolerant, holier-than-thou statements like yours indicate a lack of understanding of what concepts like “infinite diversity in infinite combinations” mean.

A rumor I remember hearing year ago (before DS9) was that there was an idea for a Star Trek Space Station show set on D-7. I don’t know if there is any truth in that. Anyone else hear this?

I could idea Roddenberry not like DS9 to whatever degree, but who cares?

Creators don’t always know what’s best. Star Wars, case and point.

I meant K-7 by the way, not D-7 lol

DS9 was a bold series (spin-off), a gamble maybe as Quark ’d point out, but very much Star Trek.

* Deep. Space. Nine.

#5: I feel just about 100% opposite. TNG was clearly Roddenberry’s “pure” Star Trek, but after that, I feel that Enterprise and Voyager were MOST in the spirit of the original and DS9 clearly the least. And while Enterprise was a superior overall series to DS9, DS9 is still better than Voyager. The biggest problem with Enterprise was perception: “that’s not the way it happened in my fan fiction about the time before Kirk.” Otherwise it is completely in the spirit of TOS and is easily the best looking of the 5 series, as well as having the best developed and most identifiable main cast (DS9 beats them all out on the supporting cast). To the question of whether DS9 is “true” Star Trek, you can analyze that in several ways, and I suppose it depends heavily upon whether you judge “true” Star Trek to be TOS or TNG. TOS was about high ideals expressed by cultural imperialism. TNG was usually more diplomatic and high-minded (if also heavy handed). Regardless, both express “optimism” in the form that mankind can survive his petty differences and stop killing one another long enough to reach the stars and take those high ideals to the savages of other planets. DS9 is certainly darker and more militaristic, but doesn’t it also share that ultimate optimism? That it’s the high ideals that win out in the end? It is certainly a very political show with complex, intertwining story arcs and very much different from any Trek… Read more »

Babylon 5 made DS9 look pretty weedy by comparison. Berman went into the show not really knowing where he was going with it- and it showed. whereas JMS knew precisely where he was going with DS9- and that showed too.
As to Roddenberry, as others have said, he really wasn’t the best judge at times was he.

This is a very interesting article. Mr. Roddenberry’s vision was probably best expressed by TOS and the first part of TNG. Toward the end of TNG, there were rather strange developments that I don’t think related much to his initial ideas. The last few seasons of TNG are not particularly similar to the first. Thus, here is a discrepancy there in itself. Which parts of TNG were closest to his vision? At that level of resolution, I would say that TOS and the early TNG set that standard. As much as I love DS9, it wasn’t a very Roddenberrian. Neither Mr. Roddenberry or his wife, who played a very large part in Star Trek, I believe, are alive, but his son is. His son is in a position to comment. I would like to know what he thinks, at this point. The problem is that the Roddenberry vision is subject to interpretation. I can have a view of what it was, but I’m certainly not an expert; I’m just a viewer and commenter. What we can do is take TOS as the first edition of his vision, and move from there. I believe the creator of this entertainment franchise had certain ideas; those ideas evolved and were developed by hundreds, later, including by the author himself. The concept that Mr. Roddenberry had one vision that was utterly set in concrete and that did not change is, to me, questionable. But so is the idea that all Trek in all of… Read more »

^^ “Thus, here is a discrepancy in itself.”

There were incredibly dark things in TOS as well.

Roddenberry wanted the future to be about reaching for the best in humanity, but that doesn’t make the darkness that also exists to magically disappear completely. (One look at general order 24 or other Starfleet regulations from the TOS era and you immediately see that.)

Which is why things like the darkness in DS9 or in STID aren’t anti-Trek at all, they are there to show the counter-balance.
If there was no darkness at all or a situation for the heroes to yearn for the light, there would be no struggle, and thus no story. (Or the story would be CareBears or Teletubbies.)

Majel was on DS9 a few times so I don’t think she Objected to it…the problem is Gene seemed to Object to many things that were in his Creation, he didn’t much care for Star Trek II Wrath of Khan Unforms to Mitary style, he didn’t like the Scrip for VI, His first Attempt at making the Ferengi work as a replacement for the Klingons was a Fail, DS9 Kind of changed who they were….Hard to say what Gene would have liked cause Gene Isnt’ with us…I respect him for Creating Trek, but he also hoped someday someone would do Trek better then him…

DS9 was I feel the last great Star Trek TV series. It did what Star Trek needed to do in order to stay relevant. Would have been nice had it had a spin off TV series based in the Gamma Quadrant and a crew onboard the Defiant. And it would have also been great had the TNG movies after First Contact involved DS9!

Never really understood why the Enterprise wouldn’t have been on the front lines of the Dominion War.

In the trouble with Tribbles, the Enterprise crew goes down to a space station, and while everyone in uniform remains decent to each other, there is a brawl that breaks out between the crew and a stranger. I think DS9 is that sequence on a larger scale. That sequence which Gene DID support. Sisko, O’Brian, Bashir, Dax, that set got along well and followed their ideals and dealt with one another in exemplary fashion. What gave the spin to the show was outside personalities, Bajoran exchange officers, shape-shifters with no known origin and thus divisive loyalties, a space station that is not Federation but captured Cardassian, and aliens from all over the universe passing by. I’d say it suited Trek quite nicely that we had racial complexity, conflict among outsiders and officers but not necessarily between the officers, and some of the greatest explorations of humanity ever done on TV (The Visitor, Duet, to name just two). Maybe along the way some actions of the crew overstepped some boundaries, and humanity was not what Star Trek ultimately hopes. But the concept and the form of DS9 was certainly within Gene’s realm. Perhaps if he was there, different paths would have been taken in the long-run. Sadly, what I think Gene might not approve of is nuTrek. :( Violence solves everything. Firsts first. Racial slurs for laughs (“hick who only has sex with farm animals”). Racism for laziness (Khan transformed into a Brit). Federation officers turning out to be the master… Read more »

DS9 was the Trekkiest of the Trek shows.

And, yet again, TOS was plenty dark.

you know with Mr. Berman, Braga and Pillar what you have to remember is that he had to, along with everyone else write and control a TV show for hundreds and hundreds of episodes in a small time span.

so while I dont fondly remember Voyager and Enterprise like I do TNG and DS9, we as viewers do have to give him some leniency in that aspect.

although i think personally it was the feeling that you have to abide by what gene wanted that handicapped both Voyager and Enterprise and the TNG movies

as a ship is nothing without its crew, and if its crew is dull and neverchanging its not going to make for a good show, and I think that is bottom line what Killed Star Trek with the Akiraprise show.

a basic lack of want and ability to shake up the status quo like they did with DS9 and TNG.

Also interestingly enough, why hasnt the Babylon 5 story been brought up about this with DS9? where it sounds like part of the inspiration and story ideas might have come directly from an outline the creator of that did for Paramount in 1989 that was then given to the trek guys?

namely odo, atleast from the sound of it here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon_5

plus also there might be something going on with that property soon, along with lost in space, so who knows, maybe Captain worf could be in good company if it gets the Green Light.

DS9 was Trek. Not every corner of the Trek universe is the same. It is logical to suppose that there are dark corners, or darner corners, and DS9 did a good job of presenting those somewhat darker elements.

The problem with Enterprise as a series was obvious, the scripts were not always great. (I know, I know, you could say that about any Trek series, but my opinion is Enterprise was the worst culprit.)

Additionally, some fans hating Enterprise is not about their ‘fanboy’ perceptions of Trek before Kirk, as #10 suggests. It is about the disregard of the Trek history that was already set up in some official Trek texts (not fiction, necessarily), that were written long before Enterprise.

I know that Trek breaks its own rules when it comes to its own history. (I blame that on sloppy oversight of the scripts.) But I think some fans’ saw Enterprise as the worst culprit of this, and the last straw.

This is just what I have heard talking to fans at conventions, etc., and my own perceptions.

Considering how GR felt about money (“gold-pressed latinum”), the military (“The Dominion War”) and religion (“The Bajorans”), I really don’t think he would have approved how DS9 turned out. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t have approved of a spin-off series set on a space station, but it would have been a lot more formulaic than story arc-driven.

DS9 was/is awesome. The Dominion arc was great, and I wish more Trek was on TV doing similar things.

DS9 was a good show, but it wasn’t good Trek… While it started to be Next Gen light, it later turned into a gloomy, brooding predecessor of shows like NuBSG and Game of Thrones. I liked watching it, but at the same time, I hated it for completely countermanding the utopian vision set up by NextGen’s first two seasons…

Just think of Q’s accusations in the Next Gen pilot… one could easily use DS9 footage to prove that Q had been right about humanity being a “greaviously savage race”…

I like shows like NuBSG or GoT, but not within the Star Trek universe… In retrospect, DS9 will always be the show I liked the least, though I like all five of them.
But if I could chose between DS9 and VOY on Blu-Ray, I’d rather pay $100 for a season of VOY than $50 for a season of DS9… VOY was far from perfect, but still Star Trek at its core…visiting strange new worlds and phenomena on a weekly basis instead of war-mongering story arcs and bad Ferengi comedies…

I always felt that DS9 was not good Star Trek, but it was good television.

I don’t feel it worked with GR’s universe because it was so pessimistic and negative. Even the end where Sisko essentially abandons his unborn child to frolic with the profits was an exclamation point on the show.

The war arc, for Star Trek, lasted way too long. I thought the first 6 weeks of it were terrific, but at most, it should have ended at the end of season 6.

Just because I don’t think the show was good Star Trek doesn’t mean I don’t think it was a good show. Seasons 3-the first 6 episodes of Season 6 were absolutely terrific television.

The show really hit its stride, and I enjoyed it.

And just because I feel the show as a WHOLE wasn’t good Star Trek, doesn’t mean it didn’t have its moments. Trials and Tribbleations was terrific, and The Visitor was a masterpiece.

Star Trek, at its best, was about humanity at its finest–and the crew represents that. DS9 was NOT humanity at its finest, and did not have that optimistic view of the future that TOS and TNG had. I liked the characters, I liked the show, but as a STAR TREK show, it lacked.

Good show, not good Star Trek

I didn’t like TNG or Star Trek :TMP. Both,of which, followed an exclusive, new found “vision” of Roddenberry. Neither seemed to be able to marry all the various elements that made TOS tick. I did, however, enjoy all the other original cast movies, DS9…to some degree…and also love the new Trek films. As Roddenberry evolved, he distanced himself from his earlier ideas and TOS… So much so, that, when TNG hit the airwaves, it was very disappointing.

DS9 was Star Trek for the 14 – 22 year old female demographic.

Deep Space Nine was an awesome show.

One thing is for sure rather Gene Roddenberry wished it or not Paramount would had kept producing Star Trek. People like Ira Behr, Ronald Moore, Brannon Braga, Manny Cotto, Bob Orci and etc are writer who grew up fans of Star Trek. If these aren’t the right people who should take the helm of Star Trek than I don’t know who is. We can blast the execution or tone, but I don’t hate the premise that Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise had.

What they are doing with Star Trek fan production is incredible.

I mean, does it even matter if it fit Roddenberry’s vision? Gene’s vision of the future depicted in Trek by the time TNG aired, was one of an entire universe that was overly optimistic to the point that it didn’t adequately reflect the contemporary issues of the day, as the original did. His constant assertions of what Trek wasn’t over what it could be were really overly idealistic to the point that it hindered story telling. So even if what Marina said is true, I say… so what? DS9 was a huge success in my view. It wasn’t as flashy or as iconic as TNG or TOS, but it was damn good Trek. I’ve been immensely critical of Berman, but he did a lot for the critical success of TNG, he oversaw the inception of DS9, which were great achievements. Voyager wasn’t terrible by any means, but it was the beginning of the end. Trek was really too watered down by that point, and as much of a departure from the norm that Enterprise was, it suffered from franchise fatigue. Berman had the charge of keeping things going, so it’s hard to blame him for too much product.. but if there is a central criticism, it’s that he didn’t figure out how to make it feel fresh as the universe expanded. Enterprise was the boldest superficial departure, but at its core, it was just more of the same.

To start…. WTF was his “vision”?

His “utopian” future was centered on Earth, not the entire Federation and the galaxy…

One has to wonder why folks keep sticking a microphone in front of her.

One has to wonder why anyone cares what she says…

I just finished a complete re-watch on DS9. I actually commented on all the episodes at Jammer’s site. Many times the topic comes up from someone that “DS9 isn’t real trek”, blah, blah… I personally think that’s hogwash. The only part of the series that I question whether Gene would have “approved” was the closer where Sisko becomes a “god”. That was just ridiculous.

There are parts of all the series’ that could be put into the “Gene questionable” bin.

So what.

I’d be more concerned about the direction of the new movies than DS9.

Here we go…. My Trek is better than your Trek.

**sigh**

Pure Roddenberry Trek? Season 1 of TNG. B O R I N G.

Yes, the Trek universe is marked by the Roddenberry vision that humanity survives and is moving on but it doesn’t mean that we’ve ever reached that point where we all sit around the warp core roasting our marshmellons singing Kumbaya for eternity.

This just characterizes Berman to a T — spin control, even years afterward, even contradicting his own previous statements. His comment about klingon blood color in TUC being ratings-related was misinformed and taken as gospel, to the point that now folks just print the legend.

I hope Altman’s book deconstructs Berman once and for all, but I doubt it will. Except for letting DS9 happen and having to hire Piller when Wagner left (thus triggering the open submission policy), Berman did nothing good for trek at all that I can recall. And he did a lot to make sure Trek got passed up by other programming.

Who cares what Gene would have thought? I can only speak for myself, obviously, but almost every Star Trek episode and concept that I love was written or created by someone else (Coon, Moore, Piller, Behr, etc.). In contrast, any time Roddenberry had a lot of control or creative input over something (with the exception of early TOS) it was invariably terrible. It seems pretty clear to me that Gene was a guy who had a brilliant idea that became a cultural touchstone in spite of himself.

The notion that Gene would have hated DS9 is the biggest DS9 endorsement I could imagine.

@31. kmart,
“This just characterizes Berman to a T — spin control, even years afterward, even contradicting his own previous statements.”

Nice to know Orci learned from the best.

I think DS9 fit Roddenberry’s vision, but I don’t think Roddenberry would agree. The Federation was still the great utopia with high ideals that Gene Roddenberry created, but the characters had to fight, and make compromises, to keep it that way. If Roddenberry had lived, I can’t imagine that DS9 would have been nearly as good as it ended up being. At the very least, the Starfleet coup and Sisko lying to the Romulans would never have been allowed to happen.

Roddenberry “hated” most of the Star Trek he wasn’t involved with, so I tend to believe Marina’s account. Just because Gene approved something, doesn’t mean he liked the premise – Gene was also very much a businessman and knew a good product when he saw one, even if he disapproved of the context.

And the award for “dumbest comment in this thread” goes to:

#25 for “DS9 was Star Trek for the 14 – 22 year old female demographic.”

:::head shake:::

Team Sirtis vs. Team Berman

Fan war #34,522 is about to begin!

@29 (Yanks): You doth protest too much on a non-issue.

Yanks is # 30 :-)

Whatith is the non-issue?

I would give anything for the incredibly annoying and clueless Marina Sirtis to shut the Hell up!

If Gene hated DS9 why in the world would his wife work on the show?

The bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter what Roddenberry would have thought about DS9. What did YOU think about it? Did you like it? Good! Did you hate it? Sorry. Did you think it was not true Trek? Okay, you’re entitled to that opinion, whatever it may be. It’s a subjective experience. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but this Trek police nonsense has to go.

Which is why I don’t like a lot of the flack that the new movies are getting. Don’t like them? Fine. Want a different direction? Fine. Vote with your money – don’t go see them and don’t support them. But if other people do, you can’t complain. That’s obviously what they like. And you still have what you like. And actually, with TOS, you’ve got a lot of fan productions that seem very interesting as well. And if you came up with a Treky enough script, who knows? You may be able to see the episode you dreamed about someday.

A good chance Roddenberry would had blessed the premise of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. Rick Berman probably would had talk Roddenberry into doing a few things with DS9.

Deep Space Nine – He would probably let DS9 be dark to a certain point and let it be character driven. the Dominion war wouldn’t have lasted so long. With season three and four DS9 was ask to shake things up a couple of times.

Voyager – Voyager probably wouldn’t have drifted away from it’s premise.

Enterprise – He probably would had found a Manny Cotto to helm Enterprise sooner rather the later.

Roddenberry Trek was more like The Cage, TMP and TNG, not TOS because the original pilot was considered too ‘cerebral’ by NBC, so compromises were made for the new pilot and series.

Picard=Pike. TNG is the only ‘pure’ series.

The Cage is to WNMHGB as TMP is to TWOK. NuTrek is kind of like all the changes NBC wanted, on steroids.

Berman has no credibility. He took responsibility for nothing that went wrong.

“Franchise fatigue.”

Great write up, thanks!

Even if Gene approved the base concept of DS9, I doubt he would have been happy with the direction the show took. The latter half of DS9 is great television, but probably not something Gene would have been happy with.

Whenever it is claimed that Roddenberry didn’t approve of DS9, everybody automatically assumes that this was because of the grittier and darker tone. (A quite reasonable assumption, btw.) So Roddenberry simply objecting to there being not enough trekking for a Star Trek series is definitely a new angle here…

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes more than one man to create a TV show. While Roddenberry created the beginning of what became Star Trek, it was never 100% his show. He had to answer to his bosses, and he had a team that were creating their part of the show as well.

Even Vince Gilligan has stated that he alone will not take all the credit for the success of Breaking Bad, we can’t state that a show is one person’s concept from script to screen.

That said, it doesn’t matter to me at all if Roddenberry would agree to DS9 or not. I love the show. That’s enough for me.

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