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 TrekMovie.com 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, TrekMovie.com will be there.