Trouble Ahead for JJ Abrams Paramount Benefactor?

It seems that there may be a rocky road ahead for Brad Grey, the man who brought JJ Abrams into the Paramount family and agreed to hand him the keys to Star Trek. If you haven’t heard already, Viacom Chairman and part-time Cryptkeeper Sumner Redstone fired Grey’s boss, Viacom CEO Tom Freston yesterday. It was Freston who had brought Grey on board a year ago and the word on Wall Street is that the axe may continue to fall…possibly into Grey’s neck. This has not been a good year for Paramount Pictures and Viacom stock has been falling (it fell 5% yesterday alone). It appears the split up of Viacom hasn’t worked out the way Redstone had planned, and he is pinning the blame on Freston. And it appears he isn’t too happy with Grey, recently Redstone cut Grey’s negotiations with Tom Cruise off and kicked Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner off the lot. Cruise and Waner were the ones who brought Abrams to Grey’s attention after hiring him for MI3. The question for is, what is the shake-up at Viacom and Paramount do to the Star Trek XI project. Sources inside Paramount tell us that technically the project is not officially ‘greenlit’ and does not yet have a budget. This is not unusual because the script is still being worked on, but so far work just falls under Abrams overall 5 year deal and not part of a full-blown Trek XI development project. The project is still at a stage where it wouldn’t cost the studio a lot to put it on hold or kill it outright. JJ Abrams is Brad Grey’s favorite son (he recently said Abrams is the next Spielberg), but if Grey goes then Abrams may loose his number one fan at Paramount. A new head of Paramount may not be such a big fan of Abrams and/or Trek (or they could be a huge fan and fast track the movie with a $250M budget…who knows). The problem is, when studio heads change, inevitably there are changes in direction. Grey himself pulled one movie out of the 2008 lineup (John Carter of Mars) to make room for Star Trek XI. Even if Grey stays his new bosses may want to make changes as well.

Nothing to panic about yet, but when the time for panic comes, will be there.

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Ok….what now? Perhaps those who hold the keys to the Star Trek home (so to speak) should just forget it all. It seems that they couldn’t find their *** with both hands and a flashlight,
Those who maintain this site should perhaps rename it: The Trek Report…that would be more fitting.
They DO have a great idea with updating the original series so why not stick with that idea and redo
all of the series? That would be a step in the right direction – wouldn’t some of you agree on that?

Paramount just continues to be a big mess. Here’s hoping they get things straightened out over there and when the dust settles, its a Trek-friendly environment!

I agree that it’s not time to panic, but this is still bad news indeed. When a new exec comes in (as may well happen here), anything in development is in serious jeoparday. Why? Because if it succeeds, the new guy can’t really take credit, but if it flops s/he will certainly get hit with the blame. So there’s a huge tendency in hollywood to kill projects already in development.

This doesn’t even consider the whole Brad-J.J. connection.

Fingers crossed, but I’m not feeling great about this…

The Hollywood Reporter has a paragraph referring to Grey buried about halfway down their article on Freston’s departure. It reads:

“Asked about potential further management changes at the corporate and unit level, Dauman said he hopes to keep the Viacom team together and already had talked with Paramount Pictures boss Brad Grey, MTV Networks head Judy McGrath and BET leader Debra Lee. He “expects they will stay,” Dauman said.”

The article is here:

Well, I’m not going to panic. I’d really like to see Abrams do a “Star Trek” movie right now, but I also watched Paramount start and stop and start and stop a seemingly endless number of Trek projects between 1975 and 1979. Warner Bros over took ten years to figure out how to handle “Superman” once they finally decided to revive that franchise, and nearly as long to recover from the last Schumacher “Batman” fiasco. So if this version of the Trek project turns out to be the beginning of a long road rather than the fast-track project that it appears to be at the moment, it’ll just be business-as-usual.

Still, Grey seems already to have dodged a bullet on the Pelicano thing, so perhaps his life is charmed. ;)