This year marks the 25th anniversary of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The film is considered by many (including J.J. Abrams) to be the best of the 10 film series and the benchmark by which other films are compared. The film was directed (and written) by Nicholas Meyer, who went on to co-write Star Trek IV and VI (which he also directed. Meyer recently appeared at the screening of the film (part of Geek Magazine’s ‘1982 Geekiest Year Ever’ Series). I had a moment to talk to Mr. Meyer at the event about his views on the film so many years later, if he would make any CGI changes, why he isn’t credited as a writer and his views of the franchise going forward. (Interview below)
There was a Battlestar Galactica special screening in Hollywood on Wednesday and TrekMovie.com was there. BSG co-creator and executive producer Ron Moore had a quick moment to chat about the next season of BSG and Star Trek. On the subject of the new Trek film Moore tells TrekMovie.com that he is a fan of JJ Abrams. "He is tremendously talented and I think he is going to do a really good job," said the veteran Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine writer/producer. I also had a chance to ask the man who killed James T. Kirk (Moore co-wrote Generations) about the the the plans to bring Kirk back in the new film.
At the Saturn Awards this week Bryan Singer picked up awards for Best Director and Best Fantasy Film for Superman Returns. After the show I had a chance to talk Trek with him about his love for Star Trek. Singer said that he is looking forward to Trek XI and thinks JJ Abrams is ‘brilliant’. He said that even though he had ‘bandied about’ some ideas for Trek himself, he never had the time to commit to it. Famous for spending over $200 million on Superman Returns, Singer did note concerns over Paramount giving Abrams enough money ‘to do it right’ and felt that he would ‘go north of $100 Million’ if it were his. The director also revealed how he ended up getting a cameo in Star Trek Nemesis and what it was like to meet some of Trek’s biggest stars, including a surprise guest at Patrick Stewart’s house.
If you don’t know Herman Zimmerman’s name, you certainly know his work. Mr. Zimmerman has been the production designer on almost every Star Trek project for the last two decades, helping define the look of almost every Trek era. Star Trek XI will be the first film to without Mr. Zimmerman since the 80s, but the veteran designer tells TrekMovie.com he is just fine with that. I have enjoyed being the keeper of the flame as far as the look of the franchise since 1987. I knew Gene Roddenberry personally and was always a fan of the show,never dreaming I would work on it when I was a young art director at NBC in the 60s. I have had a hell of a good time. It is more fun than work, but I am officially retired.
Robert Justman was there at the beginning as a producer for both Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the second part of our interview with Justman, he talks about his views on Abrams new Trek movie and how some of todays debates reminds him of Trek’s days past … [warning note: Mr Justman uses some ‘colorful metaphors’]
Robert Justman is one of the true founding fathers of Star Trek. He was a producer during on Star Trek The Original Series as well as the early years of Star Trek: The Next Generation. TrekMovie.com visited with Mr. Justman to talk about Trek’s beginning (as well as its current remastering). Justman’s journey with Trek began as the associate producer for the 2nd Trek pilot “Where No Man Had Gone Before," and apparently that almost became the end of his tenure with Star Trek…
The massive multiplayer Star Trek game ‘Star Trek Online’ is still a year and a half away, but Perpetual Entertainment is already building buzz about the project. Last week they showed off some of their work at the Game Developers Conference and today they put some of that artwork (below) on the official site. Now that things are starting to happen TrekMovie.com decided it was time to make first contact with Perpetual. Executive Producer Daron Stinnett made it clear that the game (like Star Trek XI) is just in pre production, but there are already 35 people working on it full time. Stinnett is a long-time fan of the franchise and apparently when the word went out that Perpetual were giving Trek the MMORPG treatment, the Trekkie game designers came calling. "A lot of great talent was attracted by it…people really excited to be part of a new vision of Star Trek," says Stinnett.
Norman Spinrad, the writer of "The Doomsday Machine" has now seen the new remastered version and gave some of his reactions to TrekMovie.com. TrekMovie.com: What did you think of it?Norman Spinrad: I haven’t watched it at all for a while and it is a strange experience. My first take is that everything looked cleaner – not just the effects but the whole episode looked cleaned up. For the new special effects it seems the biggest change is that they seem to be able to do motion a lot better. Things are moving in a more complicated way. The doomsday machine isn’t that different. The way I conceived it, it was something else. It should look both alive and robotic..and neither the new or the old looked either.
The folks at CBS Digital were kind enough to let TrekMovie.com visit CBS Television City to get a behind-the-scenes peek at how they are breathing new life into Star Trek. Getting chosen as the effects house to create the new CGI effects for the remastered Star Trek was quite the coup for CBS Digital. As Craig Weiss, Director of CBS Digital says "it is huge deal – the biggest thing we have done so far.” Every single one of their twenty artists does at least some work on Trek, with over half of them dedicated full time. CBS had to bring on about 8 new people in order to meet the rigorous work schedule. Most of the new people are crowded into a single dimly lit (to avoid glare) room that used to be called ‘the morgue’. It is quite a thrill to look around the workstations and see the various bits and pieces of recognizable Star Trek elements being worked on. It is clear from just a quick visit that each member of the team is dedicated to their craft and to digitally recreating the magic of Star Trek.
JJ Abrams was in Beverly Hills Wednesday to present an Atrios Award to his longtime casting director April Webster. TrekMovie.com was there and got a moment to talk a little Trek XI. Abrams confirmed our earlier story on the film’s current status and Spring 2007 production start. He also explained why he hasn’t yet committed to direct and talked a bit about why he thinks Kirk and Spock continue to endure…see the (shaky) video. video removed full transcript for the TrekMovie.com Abrams ‘mini interview’ below…
According David La Fountaine, exec-producer on Trek Remastered and Exec VP at CBS Paramount, there there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the Star Trek Remastered project. As everyone knows, each week the CBS digital team send out a new digitally remastered CGI-enhanced version of the Star Trek: Original Series for broadcast syndication. La Fountaine tells TrekMovie.com that what we are seeing is only one of the many different versions of each episode that the team is making. The first version they make an unedited or ‘network’ version without any CGI enhancements but with all the digital remastering from the original source. Then they make the CGI enhanced version of the full length version, and then edit it down for syndication. This means that some of the new CGI effects being done are not being seen in the syndicated versions. Plus all 3 versions are being done in both High Definition and Standard Definition. In addition all the new CGI space shots and matte paintings are being done in 16:9 wide-screen, so every time you see a new shot in Trek Remastered there is a bigger HD version waiting in the wings.
TrekMovie got some time with Trek Remastered Producer David Rossi to talk about how the project is going and where they are going next. Like any Trek endeavor, the CGI-enhanced Trek Remastered project has spawned much discussion. In general the show has been well received. The re-recorded theme and the digital transfers get a lot of praise. Much of the CGI work like the new matte paintings and planets have gone over quite well, and some of the live action touches have been pleasant surprises. However, much discussion has focused on how CBS have been digitally recreating Kirk’s classic Enterprise. Many seem to feel that the team have not got it quite right yet, but what may surprise the critics is that the producers at CBS agree. "It is not that we are unhappy with the work, but it is not yet the Enterprise as we want to see it" says Dave Rossi, going on "we want it to be there as much as everybody else does." And this is not just talk; the team has a plan…and a new model.
Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand) only appeared in 8 episodes in the first season of Star Trek before being let go amid some controversy. But fans remembered Yeoman Rand and she came back (as Lt. JG Rand) for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. She went on to appear in three more Trek films (III, IV & VI) and even an episode of Star Trek Voyager (‘Flashback’). She is again reprising her role for the new independent Trek film ‘Of Gods And Men’. TrekMovie chatted with the actress about playing Rand again as well as her thoughts on a new Rand for Star Trek XI.
Although the new CGI effects get most of the attention for Trek Remastered, CBS also gave the show’s opening music new life. The classic theme written by Alexander Courage was re-recorded in digital stereo and most agree that it is pitch perfect. That is thanks to the people involved, starting with the man tasked with the job Greg Smith. Smith is a Trek music veteran who began working on Trek back in the early 90s . He worked on DS9, VOY and ENT as an orchestrator for composer Jay Chattaway and even composed a few episodes himself. "I tried to remember how many Trek music sessions I worked on and I lost count," Smith tells TrekMovie. Star Trek up until Enterprise was one of the few shows that still used full orchestral scores. "For music, Trek always had the highest production values," says Smith, and Trek Remastered wasn’t going to be the exception.
TrekMovie visits with Of Gods and MenThe crew for the independent Trek web mini-series ‘Of Gods and Men’ (henceforth referred to as OGaM) did some location shooting in L.A. last weekend and TrekMovie.com was there. The first thing you notice when pulling up to the location is that this does not look like the proverbial ‘bunch of fans in a barn’ scenario. The scene looked like a typical L.A. filming location complete with honey wagons, equipment trucks, trailers, P.A.’s running around screaming into their headsets and extras milling about. What was different about this is that most of the extras had pointy ears. OGaM has turned a little corner of the San Fernando Valley into the planet Vulcan.
When word of Star Trek Remastered hit the web last week, very often discussion mented the name Daren Dochterman. It was a reasonable to speculate that Dochterman was inovled in the new project since he was the digital effects supervisor for ‘Director’s Edition’ of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and had recently launced TrekEnhanced a site dedicated to the notion of adding CGI effects to the original series. The speculation of his involvement was so rampant that after the official announcement from CBS, Dochterman issued an official statement to tell fans that although he had pitched, he wasn’t involved. TrekMovie.com decided to give Daren a ring and talk to him about his history with Trek and the new Trek Remastered project.
One company that vied for the CGI effects work on the new HDTV Trek project was EdenFX. The L.A.-based digital effects house has a long relationship Paramount and Star Trek dating back to the 90s. The team has racked up a couple dozen Emmy’s for their Trek work, most recently in 2004 for Star Trek: Enterprise. Last year when Eden created a digital version of a ship from Kirk’s era for the ‘In A Mirror Darkly’ arc, fans got a taste of what the classic Trek might look like with state-of-the-art visual effects on HDTV . When word of a new HD Star Trek: The Original Series project started going around town, EdenFX was on the scene immediately. The company quickly put together a bid including test footage (see below). In the end CBS decided to do the initial CGI work in-house. However, EdenFX owner John Gross is still optimistic they can be part of HDTV Trek as the project goes along. CBS Paramount has committed to deliver ‘new’ episodes on a weekly basis, so it sounds like there is a lot of work to do over the next two years. EdenFX Test video (QuickTime – opens new window)
Last month we reported highlights of a TV Guide interview with Star Trek XI producer JJ Abrams. The full interview is now online at TVGuide.com. A few websites are picking up this interview as a new, but it is actually the same interview from last month (just now in web form). If you saw the earlier report, then there is no new information. Regardless, it is a good read to get a bit more insight into the man who has Star Trek’s future in his hands. The following are the highlights in easy to digest bullet points: Scifi show influences: Twilight Zone and The Prisoner Favorite: Twilight Zone (fave episode: “Where is Everybody”) Considers Lost to be ‘Scifi’…kept this secret from ABC Will be more involved in Lost Season 3 than Season 2 Describes being involved with Trek ‘surreal but wonderful’ Fan of Star Trek (Original Series) and Star Trek: The Next Generation, not so much others (DS9, VOY, ENT) Has all DVD’s of all Trek series Would only take Trek if Paramount had ‘open mind’ Still wont talk specifics yet In the middle of “breaking the story” (NOTE: at time of interview last month) Wants to start film production sooner rather than later, but not until ready STXI Story ‘honors canon’ but is ‘nothing seen before’ Respects Trek fans, has learned a lot from Lost fans Believes Trek endures because of ‘it’s characters and emotional connection’
The new Star Trek movie is still two years away but it has already has it’s very own ‘dancing baby’; in the form of a very angry Captain Kirk. Wherever people are talking about the new movie, invariably you will find a link to the ‘Shatner Is Kirk’ page at ytmnd.com (a community-based site where users upload various humorous animations and videos). Since its creation 3 weeks ago, the vid has been viewed over 65,000 times. You will often see links to the ‘Shatner Is Kirk’ page posted by those arguing against any actor (including Matt Damon) filling William Shatner’s space boots. Clearly it’s maker was sending a message that he joins in their ‘anti-recasting’ cause…or does he? The Trek XI Report talked to the man behind this internet hit, and he wants to “set the record straight”.
[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.
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’
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 …