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Rod Roddenberry Talks Star Trek All Access, the 50th Anniversary, and That Legal Case That Just Won’t Go Away

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Rod Roddenberry sat down with the TrekZone podcast today to talk about Star Trek in 2016 (and beyond) and said that he has “tremendous hopes” for the upcoming Star Trek television series.

Rod Roddenberry, son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, was recently announced as an Executive Producer of CBS’s upcoming Star Trek series, which we are calling Star Trek All Access until the studio gives us an official title. He talked to Matt Miller, host of the TrekZone podcast, on a range of topics – from the ongoing lawsuit with fan film Axanar to what this year’s 50th anniversary of Star Trek means to his hopes for All Access.

“My ability to fully Grok the 50th anniversary [of Star Trek] is not complete. I’m 42 years old, so I haven’t been around for the full 50 years. However, having the last name that I have and being as embedded in it as I am, I have tremendous pride for my family name and for my father. Star Trek – I’m preaching to the choir here – has always been more than just entertainment. If it were just an entertainment show, I think I’d have pride, and I’d give some acknowledgements, but I wouldn’t be so, I guess, overcome with the amazing fact that it’s lasted this long.”

Star Trek has always been forward looking and hopeful that the future of humanity would be a more progressive, loving, and accepting one. In 50 years, we’ve certainly come a long way. But, Roddenberry says there is still more we can do.

“My real interest right now is: what has changed in the last 50 years and what has not changed? What will change in the next 50 years? What social issues today seem so absurd to us that in 50 years or maybe 10 years will be the complete norm?” Asks Roddenberry. Miller pointed out that one of the things that makes The Original Series of Star Trek so great, is that there are still lessons that can be learned today from this 50 year old television show.

“Sadly, there are a lot of things that I look at today and think, god we haven’t solved that in 50 years, huh? That’s a shame. That’s a shame. We should be solving a lot of those issues instantaneously.” replied Roddenberry.

When asked about the Axanar lawsuit, Roddenberry declined to comment except to say that he is a huge supporter of fan films in general, so long as those filmmakers follow the rules and “do it right”.

“CBS has been very gracious to, and I don’t know this from speaking to any of them, but it would seem that they have allowed certain fain groups to do these things as long as they do them correctly. I don’t know all the rules, but, they have all been contacted and told, ‘this is what you can’t do’. When someone steps outside those lines, there’s gonna be prices and penalties to pay. Ultimately, I’m a fan of the fans keeping Star trek alive. The group that I’m really interested in right now it Star Trek Continues: their writing, their costumes, their sets, their lighting. Everything is spectacular. I’d say that a lot of those episodes are as good and in some cases better than a lot of the original episodes.”

Finally, Miller asked whether Roddenberry was happy with the direction that CBS is taking for their 2017 television series. “I know very little,” Roddenberry remarked. “I’ve had two meetings with Bryan Fuller. He’s brought the writers together, and they’re still developing the concept.” Rod went on to discuss what he has taken away after meeting the other EPs on the show.

“What I’m excited about is the team that’s been put together by CBS. They’ve brought of course Alex Kurtzman, Bryan fuller, and Heather Kadin together. And, I’ve had the opportunity to meet them. Bryan is of course a huge Star Trek fan. So, right there alone, I have confidence that he will do it justice from that point of view. Alex Kurtzman has the history with the movies and, despite what anyone has to say, I thought the movies were incredibly well done and paid a wonderful tribute to the whole Star Trek background. Heather I just met for the first time. She I believe works with Alex, and she’s got a long list of credits, and so I believe the entire team is incredibly capable.”

On the show itself, Roddenberry said that he has “tremendous hopes” for what the series will become.

“They understand the importance of Star Trek. They understand it’s the 50th anniversary. They’re not out to rewrite history, they’re not out to change anything, and they understand they need to do their best to keep people happy but also probably make it a little different. So, that’s really all I can say on this. The truth is I don’t know much more. I swear I don’t. I have tremendous hopes, and I’m really encouraged by the two meetings we’ve had.”

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some comfort then, but shan’t hold my breath.

Said it before and I’ll say it again: Absolute FACTS: 1) Axanar raised $1,000,000+ by using the Trek IP *without* permission. 2) The Axanar team then paid themselves a salary with some of that money. 3) The Axanar team then used some of that money to build a sound stage that they stated they planned to rent for profit. —————– Now, my editorial: For most fan productions, number 1 isn’t usually an issue as long as as all of the money is being invested in the project, and no PROFIT is being made. Although, admittedly, most fan productions don’t raise anywhere near that much money, and the more money raised the bigger the red flag. That said, numbers 2 and 3 are where the real problem starts, so here goes… No, it is NOT wrong for a non profit organization to have paid employees. Organizations like the Red Cross are examples of non profits with paid employees. However(and this is the key point), if you don’t actually work for the Red Cross, you can’t print off their logos, then go down to the mall and raise money, then keep some of that money to pay yourself. You cannot profit yourself using the Red Cross brand without their express permission. Likewise, you cannot profit yourself using the Trek brand without the IP owner’s express permission, which Axanar did not have. The same logic described above also applies to the sound stage. They cannot use funds raised by using the Trek IP… Read more »

I wasn’t referring to Axanargate

Unfortunately for Mr. Roddenberry and those who don’t really know what’s going on with the lawsuit, Alex Peters asked CBS for guidance and they declined. CBS contacted no one with what they could or could not do. Other fan films use the same means to raise money. Star Trek Continues has raised nearly $350,000.00! Of course, no one has enoyed direct financial benefit from any of that…I guess they must have lost it all. Renegades has raised nearlyl half a million! Again, noone made any money off that, apparently. It’s complicated. CBS’s motivations aren’t clear. They want the money, but they didn’t think that Axanar would put up any resistance. Saying things like “they decided to break the rules” is disingenuous, at best. There were really no rules to break. And, if there are, why only Axanar?

Also, it’s kind of like speeding. Sure, it is technically against the law to go even 1 mile over the speed limit, but there is an “unwritten rule” among *most*(key word) cops that they aren’t going to pull you over unless you are going 10 or more over. So yes, other fan films may technically be speeding a little, but Axanar was going 20 miles over the speed limit. And the cop isn’t mean or a bad guy for pulling over the jerk that was going that fast.

I wasn’t referring to Axanargate!

Lastly, a quick response to what Justin Lin said about Trek belonging to the fans rather than the studio. By that logic, *HIS* movies also belong to the fans. And if that is true, then it would be completely fine for the fans to simply copy and share them with each other, rather than having to buy them in the store. But you better believe he doesn’t want that to happen, because he wants his paycheck. He knows full well his movies belong to the studios, and that is who pays him for directing. For that reason, his comment is a great example of a double standard.

*FACEPALM*

Lol – yea, Xander, The Grand Nagus seems to be using your post for a brain dump on everything that is pissing him off about the state of Trek today.

Not really. I’m not trying to take anything out on Xander or anyone else. His post was very vague, and I knew it might have been about Axanar or it might not. Either way the actual article above is talking about Axanar, so that is what my comments were truly in response to =)

I think it was clear to anyone with half a brain, that Xander’s original comment was in reference to the new series. Your comment thread about Axanar was purely to spout your own opinion on what has been going on. You’re as bad as the AxaMonitor site in this regard.

This “backseat lawyering” regarding Axanar is kinda pissing me off. In the eyes of the law, everyone is “innocent until proven guilty”. It hasn’t been proven that Axanar broke any laws. All we currently have is a lawsuit from a major corporation, against one of the larger fan productions. But the case itself, hasn’t been decided in a court of law as of yet. Public opinion may have already rendered a guilty verdict on Axanar, but not in a court of law.

Calling something “backseat lawyering” doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

You should be in politics

He said “Star Trek” belongs to the fans, not commercially produced material. The way I understand it he says everyone should be able to produce their fan fiction, not everyone is free to pirate the movies.

And the problem is, virtually all of the designs used in Axanar were commercially produced.

The_Grand_Nagus,

As were J&J’s.

But to give you the benefit of the doubt, I read deeper into the court’s Red Cross rulings which are quite a complicated thing to build your “simplifying” analogy upon, and I think I overstated the case. The court, in holding the Congressional act over the original trademark, gave them far more rights than I thought while grandfathering in J&J’s trademark.

I think I see now, how your analogy could work. But it only does so by an act of Congress of which Paramount/CBS don’t have the benefit.

I knew the story one way but the court took it another. I was wrong and I now see how you could be right.

The_Grand_Nagus, Besides your not addressing Xander’s topic, I’ve already explained to you Johnson&Johnson owns the trademark to the Red Cross symbol, in the US where all this is playing out, NOT The Red Cross. In the U.S.,The Red Cross can’t go after anyone for misappropriating that symbol, only Johnson&Johnson can, even though the American Red Cross got a Congressional Act passed in the 20th century such that the courts have ruled they can used the symbol however they want for their activities, The Red Cross can NOT license its use to others in the U.S. nor take court action to protect it as their trademark because it is not THEIR trademark there but J&J’s. The American Red Cross have NEVER contested that J&J owns the trademark. Your analogy is broken by the real facts of intellectual property wrangling. You aren’t going to repair it or make a more coherent presentation by repeating it over and over again. You need to update it. I’d suggest that you investigate the Blue Cross but I don’t think you’ll find much love there: http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/09/03/blue-cross-warning-sends-nuns-to-court.htm ” DENVER (CN) – It takes some doing to provoke a lawsuit from nuns, but Blue Cross has done it: by warning the Sisters of Charity, who run eight nonprofit hospitals, that they are violating its “blue cross” trademarks. The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System sued Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Federal Court on Tuesday, seeking declaration of non-infringement and cancellation of a Blue Cross trademark.” —… Read more »

The Grand Nagus seems like one of those guys you meat on the street who is bitching and protesting about things

He sounds a lot like that Hinman guy with the 1701 blog that has an axe to grind about Axanar. He just won’t stop either.

Tiberius,

You could say he has an AXEanar to grind.

LOL!

That’s more about truth in reporting, something precious few people seem to take care with anymore, in the field or out of it. NAGUS and HINMAN are to my mind trustworthy, which is more than I can say about anybody (sorry RMB, you used to be a huge 20th century trek asset IMO, but now I think I have to knock a couple letters off that word) associated with AXANAR going by what has been made public and by their associations with others I find less than credible.

I’m sorry but Hinman’s out in left field. He’s gone so far as to invade a discussion of another fan film to parade his garbage. He seems to think if he just says it enough times everyone will agree with him. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you go to his blog most there disagree with him and yet he still tries to waive his flag. He and another were even rude to me when I presented what David Gerrold had to say about the situation and just asked some questions.. The public got his position a long time ago. Now most are sick of hearing from him about it. You can’t talk to him about it as his mind is really closed. It’s so bad it’s almost like he’s on the CBS payroll. Also he’s frequently wrong about insider info he posts on his website Airlock Alpha. Which is updated infrequently. Sorry I don’t find him creditable at all.

I’m not familiar with Rod Roddenberry’s experience as a TV producer. Does he bring much to the table besides caretaking his father’s properties?

I’d say that it is more so care-taking of his father’s legacy more than his properties. He did a documentary about his father; it was pretty good. You should check it out. I watched it on Netflix a while back. I don’t know if it is still on there.

Ian,

Rod was an executive producer on the feature TREK NATION which aired on Discovery’s Science channel in the US. So, I suppose that puts him in better stead than his father was when Gene took his first executive producer position on a major motion picture?

No. I think they only hired him, because of his last name.

An executive producer doesn’t know much about the his series? Hmm, that’s odd. But Rod’s words give some hope, I guess. Thanks for the interview.

What is there to know if they haven’t nailed down the concept yet?

Let’s be honest, here’s not there for his creative input. Now that Majel is gone he’s the flag bearer for the Roddenberrys. His involvement is likely symbolic.

“Let’s be honest, here’s not there for his creative input.” — El Chup

How many executive producers on an anticipated TV show with hot buzz are there for their creative input? And even if Rod isn’t their for “creative” input that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s there for NO input.

Rod’s comment that “they’re not out to rewrite history” gives me some new hope that the series will be set in the prime universe!

I suspect Rod’s involvement is purely symbolic, And that’s ok, smart marketing. But the fact that Alex Kurtzman helped give me the new Trek movies and Heather Kadin has worked with him, gives me a great deal of confidence. Bryan Fuller is a huge TOS fan and Nick Meyer, though not a big fan, understands the universe and knows how to make it click, Exciting times ahead! If the series catches on, I hope Bob Orci will, perhaps, contribute a story or three.

Star Trek Lives!

jonboc,

From deep in the bowels of his Regula 1 den, my compatriot, Cygnus-X1, expels a single syllable palindrome from his lips that echoes to us even here.

Lol, disinvited, I think I hear his name reverberating as we speak! lol. Oh wait…no, I think he’s yelling “taco caaaat!!”

As always: nobody knows anything and all do their very best.

Thomas W.,

Wait…wait…wait, the implications for Peny Robinson’s friend in LOST IN SPACE aside, if nobody knows anyhing, then isn’t the very best that all, knowing nothing, can do is … not that much?

Somewhat confirms the idea that he’s along for the ride as more of a Star Trek caretaker, perhaps allowing for his father’s voice to still be heard at the table.

Sort of confirms that Fuller is really the creative driver of the show, not Kurtzman. Which is probably good. I say that because Fuller is hit and miss and has been kicked off his own shows in the past. But certainly he wants to do right by Star Trek whereas we know what we get with Kurtzman.

I have some optimism. And with Meyers there I think he can focus the voice of the characters and the “voice” of the show, the narrative in a strong way.

Your backhanded complement schtick on the new series is starting to wear thin.

You’re sense of smallness next to certain posters here wore thin long ago. Please refrain from irrelevant empty posts. I generally get the sense you’re smarter than you come across a lot of the time. Try harder.

My post was all complimentary and optimism. Idiot.

You always try to go personal on me when I and others expose your negative and hypocritical behavior. In doing this you seek to imply that we are on an equal playing field, but nothing could be farther from the truth. You spouse hate and negativity towards nuTrek, but it’s always the same tired sarcasm, and you already ride the back of Cygnus’s much more adult and complex posts…having sarcastic quips and atta- boying Cygsus seems to be the extent of what you offer her to our community.

Time to get your game up — you continually embarrass yourself here.

I think bringing Rod Rodenberry on was a good move and a nod to the fans. CBS is wanting us to know that they are going back to Star Trek’s roots. I’m excited for what this means for the new series. Can’t wait for Jan 2017.

Harlan’s audiobook of his THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER tome literally reaches for the “stars”:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/342254102/a-skyboat-audiobook-of-harlan-ellisons-star-trek-t

“Skyboat’s first crowd-funding effort to boost the coffers for the recording and production of classic THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER by Harlan Ellison®. Star Trek. TOS. The Original Series. Starship Skyboat will be recording the full audiobook this month. This is Harlan’s original 1966 Writers’ Guild of America Award winning and controversial script. Cast list includes luminaries like John Rubinstein, Jean Smart, LeVar Burton and Scott Brick. Join the fun. Artwork for the project created by Hugo Winner Elizabeth Leggett.”

Thanks for sharing–enthused as I was over 2014’s graphic novel adaptation of the original Ellison script, I’ll also really look forward to checking this out.

I’m certainly not in the television industry, but from a layman, it seems strange that someone would sign on to EP a tv series without a concept of some form being pitched to them. So are we to believe that no one has any idea what this tv series will be about other than related to Star Trek?

Since the release of the latest Trek movies (jury is still out on those) I’ve been hoping for a new TV continuation in the traditional sense. I don’t care who’s involved, related to or what experience they have, as long as it follows the same fundamental principles as all its predecessors. Television production companies need to realise that if they don’t move on it then fan based productions will. That’s their loss and shouldn’t pout if they do!

They’re paying him to be a “brand ambassador” and calling him an Executive Producer. He’ll be the flag waver. Think of him as Stan Lee, who has the title of “Chairman Emeritus” who is paid by Marvel simply to talk about how awesome every Marvel movie, comic, cartoon and product is, no matter how good or bad they are in reality.

I’m sure they’ll run some scripts and info past Roddenberry for his approval, and maybe even let him have input, but by no means will he have any actual say like a real Executive Producer. And that’s a fine arrangement. I think it shows respect, and keeps the Roddenberry name involved. Some might call it a cheap way to sway the fans, but it’s also just the right thing to do outside of business.

Just my speculation, of course.

“They’re not out to rewrite history”. Interesting…..

About Rod’s involvement. I’m unfamiliar with his personal work. Does anybody have any examples of great stories he has written or created?

The_Grand_Nagus,

The only thing I’m aware of him writing was the “Infection” episode of EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT. I recall enjoying it but can’t recall much else about it.

I´m glad Rod is involved, but I also don´t think he will be “really” involved in the creation of the show. The fact that he doesn´t know anything about it is a clear indication.

And he appears to have not much clue about the fanfilm scene either. “I don’t know all the rules, but, they have all been contacted and told, ‘this is what you can’t do’” is just not true. Nobody from the fan film makers that I know have been contacted in that way. That is part of the problem – it´s a grey area where they all operate in. I´m sure all fan film makers would appreciate it if there WERE such rules, written down and for all to see and to follow.

At least some more pages are reporting about this. ;)

http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/cbs-new-star-trek-series-gets-a-teaser-poster-123?

Stephan –

For a variety of reasons (prime of which is that none of these stories state where this picture was taken or how they know it’s official) we will not be running this story unless we get some sort of confirmation. I’m actually surprised so many sites are running with it.

Thanks for answering. I was surprised as well about the amount of sites reporting without giving any sources. So I thought, maybe you know more or could maybe ask CBS directly. ;) But maybe it’s a good sign indicating that everyone is excited for the new series.

So it’s not really “fake”. It’s a legitimate piece of CBS sales marketing which is apparently hanging in a hallway somewhere in one of their corporate locations. But no, it was not specifically developed by the creators of the new show.

What I do recall Rod Roddenberry saying in his documentary was that he had no concept or appreciation of Star Trek growing up and that film, Trek Nation, was his journey to discover what Star Trek was all about. So yeah, his sudden interest in Trek in cash-driven and he has demonstrated zero ability to be of use in this project.

I do believe his appointment s ceremonial and fan service very similar to the hiring of Nicholas Meyer. I’m not denying Meyer’s contribution to Trek in the past, but he’s been out of the game for 25 years now. I think he will serve in some sort of role as consultant but his main purpose is to gain the trust and goodwill of the fanboys.

Someone who I would LOVE to see work on this is Peter David. Hell, he’s already created his own Trek series and he wrote some damn good TNG books as well. I know he had health issues recently but I saw he was live-tweeting during the Emmys a couple of months ago and he seemed pretty sharp to me.

Nice to see Roddenberry not commenting on Axanar. Now Peters just needs to actually listen to his pro bono legal advice and put a sock in his pie hole….

I just read the news on Rod’s social media that he will be a part of the new Star Trek show. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how everything is shaping up under Bryan Fuller. It really appears as though Trek is being approached from all the right places this time. I can’t wait to give it a look!

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