Viacom Chief Trumpets ‘Revitalized’ Trek [UPDATED]

In speech to investors, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman named Star Trek in his list of key components of Paramount’s future. Apparently JJ Abrams really sold the new cheif of Viacom on  Trek when he spoke to him last month (story). Specifically on Trek the executive said "we’re revitalizing it in a new and interesting way." This shows how Trek has again moved to the front burner for Viacom and Paramount. Also of note is how the article states a Trek XI release date as ‘2008 or 2009’. It also claimed that Abrams would be directing the film. Abrams recently told TrekMovie that he still was not sure if he would direct and that they will start shooting in Spring 2007 to meet a Summer 2008 release date. TrekMovie will try and clarify these two issues, but it is good to see that Trek has support all the way to the top.
Full story in Variety

UPDATE: Abrams still not Confirmed To Direct

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I like the sound of that. Hopefully a new begining for trek and I don’t mean a reset of the whole franchise. Allthough I am a fan of the new BSG as a long time trek fan I hope for something new, yet without throwing out the old. Even though I am not overly familiar with JJ Abrams work from everything I’ve read and heard from others sounds good to me!

and oh yeah…..FIRST.

Anything else would be….illogical.

They should do Winter 08. If they go with Summer, they’re going to put Trek XI head-to-head with The Dark Knight, a sure fire blockbuster. That same mistake was made with Nemesis, they should rethink the release date.

My only quasi concern is the script, and I say that in lieu of the troubled Transformers production.

I’m not concerned about Abrams directing, or the impetus being on real Star Trek, but if the script is given TLC and honed in a way to insert some literary maturity akin to some of Myers work, it should be perfectly fine.

The new school of screen-writers naturally are a product of their generation, and this generation sadly lacks a certain eloquence in how the language is conveyed.

The last thing we need is Kirk proclaiming “Damn Yo that chick is tight,”to Spock’s “Word up Cap’n.”

Not that it’s a real danger, nevertheless if you contrast a contemporary authored script with a script from say, the 70’s or 80’s the usage of the lexicon and poetic flair seems to have gone the way of Rick Berman- into the Nexus.

I don’t know I sense we are getting a reboot here. I had no problem really with BSG being rebooted, it only lasted 22 episodes originally, but Trek has a long and complex history with about 600 hours of shows, I can’t see doing a reset on that

#5, It’s not going to be a re-boot. This movie is meant to fit within established continuity.

And to the rest of the gang, any chance they will let Nick Meyer take a pass at the script? Talk about a classy writer. Just go easy on the Shakespeare, Nick.

Per chance to dream…..I would love to see Meyer involved again.

No. Meyer has his appeal to long-time Trek fans, but that’s the last thing Paramount needs. Find new people who’ve never taken on “Star Trek” and let them have a run at it.

I’m a fifty-some year old ageist, okay? Anyone shows up as a department head on this flick who’s older than their early forties it’s in trouble as a “revitalization” of anything.

#8 Blasphemy!!!

Nick Meyer knows these characters better than anyone. He’s written the most thoughtful and economical dialogue of any person to script Star Trek. The reason we still talk about Star Trek today is because Nick Meyer nourished the material in ST’s II, IV and VI.

The guy flat-out “gets it.”

A new Trek film in the TOS era could slot in pretty much anywhere. TOS didn’t have the soap operatic tendencies of the 80s to early-2000s Treks.

A TOS movie could easily be: Enterprise turns up somewhere, has adventure, leaves. There’s no need for any issues you would get in a TNG plug-in story . . . y’know: this is Picard before the Borg; this is Data before he got his emotion chip and so on!

TOS remained the same aechetypes for the most part throughout the series. The only noticeable change was the deepening friendship of Kirk, Spock and McCoy!

#4. Josh – That’s not my “quasi” concern… that’s my main concern!

J.J. Abrams & Company are gonna cast who they’re gonna cast and if we’re lucky we’ll all like ’em. My guess is there will be those that genuflect at the choices and those that say, “My Uncle Bob would have been a better “Bones!” And the effects… I’m sure they will be outstanding.

But the story… the story is everything. I wouldn’t presume to say what it should be. Except to say that it should makes us wonder… give us joy… make us think… make us laugh… make our breath hitch and our eyes well with moisture. Exactly what the best of TOS does now, even after so many years.

As much as I enjoy Abrams work, the notion of Meyer being involved to “once over” is a marvelous notion indeed.

This is a guy, like Abrams, who understands story and character. And as you accurately pointed out, he has “literary maturity”, an element that much of entertainment is missing today.

Meyer elevates the stories he’s involved with from being simply good, tight well-told yarns to being… well, resonant (to use a word.)

Bottom line is… If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.

#11, Right on!

Take for example the script for ST III, a perfectly good story that had all the elements of drama, adventure, etc. ST III is a good Trek but it suffers from being dull at times. Certain scenes sizzle (Clearing Spacedock, springing McCoy from Starfleet Security) but the overall energy level is not there.

A guy like Nick Meyer makes a difference. He makes the characters warm and poignant, something this new movie is going to have to provide by the truckload if we’re going to take a shine to the new actors. And Meyer is not afraid to make the characters flawed (Kirk’s mid-life crisis in ST II, Kirk’s rank prejudice in ST VI). I’m not saying Abrams and Co. can’t handle the material, but let a “wise old man” look it over and heed the dude’s advice. He’s got the Midas touch with this material. Of course, as I write this, I am 100% convinced that Abrams won’t ask Meyer to get involved. But you *know* if Nimoy picked up the phone, Meyer would be interested.

That’s a legitimate concern Herbert, are you One? I am One.

Todays approach and style to film-making to use whoever’s favorite term “Sucks.” And badly.

This is the music video inspired creative generation, a hackneyed approach where the film is created in the editing room not the page or soundstage.
Lucas didn’t help this matter with his “fluid” film making style either.

Once upon a time there was strict adherence to what was on the page. STRICT adherence. The writer would have to be flown in and give permission for a mere one word change.

That’s why films were better before then they are today. All of the work was done on the page. You didn’t have to spend months playing with the shot stock to come up with something approaching a motion picture.

It isn’t CGI that damns films today, it’s the half-ass camera set ups, ADD shot duration, and UN-steadycam approach to filming a shot.

I can’t fricking STAND movie making style today. It’s a mess, all over the place.

Why don’t shots linger on actors and actresses anymore? Why does each word spoken by an actor require an immediate cut to the next shot?

That’s why I’m highly anticipating “Rocky Balboa” it is reportedly a return to the old school style of film making and not this ADD generation X music video garbage that only serves to perpetuate lack of attention or focus in people.

Rememeber the beauty shot of The Starship Enterprise in the first film in dry dock?

You could NEVER get away with a shot like that today, that scene would be 2 seconds long and an editor would hack the shit out of it. Look how they did the Enterprise-B in Generations. NO glory or spectacle.

“Nick Meyer knows these characters better than anyone. He’s written the most thoughtful and economical dialogue of any person to script Star Trek. ”

Far from true; he simply wrote the movies you like the best. Much of what he did, particularly in TWOK, was synthetic, derivative and pretentious.

Neither his writing nor *any* of the movies approach the original “Star Trek” TV series in terms of thoughtfulness or characterisation or raw imagination.

As long as fans keep invoking names like Meyer’s from the Franchise’s past as some kind of high-water mark to shoot for they’re imposing a glass ceiling on “Star Trek” that will prevent future Trek films from achieving real creative and commercial success. That’s aiming way, way too low.

#13 Josh
I agree with every word you said in that post and I’m glad you wrote it first so that I don’t have to. If they use that approach in the new Star Trek film, I will have no interest in seeing it.

True, Meyer brought much needed life back into the franchise, but he also brought unnecessary naval anachronisms, bagpipes and potato mashers into it as well. I know his aim was to leaven and humanize the series, but it also sometimes pushed things a bit too far into camp, at least for my tastes.

What I hope they can find again, and it will be tough, is the sense of “final frontier” that has gone AWOL for quite sometime. ST:TMP, stiff as it was, at least captured some of the majesty of space and what it was they were up against. And the lasting magic of The Original Series was the feeling that these guys were experiencing it all for the first time, right along with us. That’s a tall order for a 40 year old franchise, but better to start with truly new blood in front of and behind the camera and see where it takes us.

#14 “Much of what (Nick Meyer) did, particularly in TWOK, was synthetic, derivative and pretentious.”

I’m sorry, I did a triple take when I read that sentence. DB, it is safe to say that yours is the minority opinion. TWOK, TVH and TUC are regarded as the best of the original series films because of the humor, warmth, excitement and true-to-life characterizations of the Big Three. I can’t imagine what you found to be pretentious about any of that material.

And to #16, the naval anachronisms are precisely what made the show believable and tactile. The Enterprise is, among other things, a military and diplomatic vessel. And given the plots of the movies, she had to serve those functions to the hilt. Yes, there are food replicators in the 23rd Century, but wouldn’t the flagship of the Federation also take pride in having a real galley? I don’t find it hard to believe that James Kirk would prefer “real food” for himself and his command crew. And the bagpipes are theatrical, no harm done there. As our intrepid captain once exclaimed to the fanbase: “It’s just a TV show!” Amen, Bill.

Heh food replicators = 23rd C sea-rations!

#14 & 17

I can see arguements for both cases when it is honestly looked at (though i think condemning it as pretentious has become as overused as Paris Hilton’s afflection to use the words “That’s hot”). Nick Meyer’s scripts were at times slightly over rodden with moments of simple dialogue exchanges that could have been worked on further. Though i enjoy the references to Shakespeare in VI because it does add to the film in many ways, i also think that when looked at it detracts from it as well since at times they are the only lines being exchanged, and in TWOK everytime Spock mentions “by the book” followed by his explanation of its usage over the communicator while Khan listens in makes me cringe.

Even with those moments however, what Meyer did manage to do very 3 things VERY well with his films is

1. Make u care for the characters
2. Make their threat real for the audience
3. Make the focus of the films events play out as “The enterprise and here crew revolving around the events of the universe” not “the events of the universe revolving around the crew of the enterprise” which was a major fault with the TNG films.

If u look at the best of the TOS series and compare it to Meyer’s scripts the format and flow was not that far off to say that both entities are different from one another.

Good insights from many here. I like Meyers work on the TOS films yet when it comes to STVI I still feel he lost some elements and a strong vision compared to STII. Granted there are some great scenes in VI, but overall it feels weaker to me than STIII even. Many would very much disagree with me on this point for sure. But starting with STV I felt they started over playing the humor with the characters like Scotty hitting a bulk head in V, the horrible get out the Klingon translation books in VI, etc. Little scenes like those and a few others would just keep these films from getting to the next level for me. There were even somethings like props, visual designs, etc. which seemed a bit off to me at moments. I am sure some fans out there will do some nice edits of these two films sometime and give them a tighter feel. One other thing with STVI which I recently have read was going to happen. Saavik should of been the traitor not some new Vulcan character. Being part Romulan and someone of an established character would of made sense and been more shocking. Oh well what is done is done. I still enjoy moments in them, but not the entire film. I sometimes wish writers/creators would really look over the game plan and get a feel of how the final product will play out. Don’t get me wrong I believe Meyer is still a great talent and all, I just wish the last STAR TREK film he did had been a bit tighter and stronger.

Of course I am amazed most films even get made with all the various input by others, the organic nature of how things are written/planned and then shot. But then I believe some STAR TREK books covered these problems in the creation of those films. Well there is a new ST film being made and I hope they really get good solid script/strong visual unified design and kick out a winner! Because as a whole, while entertaining the STAR TREK film series has really been of uneven quality to me.

Funnily enough, Rick, I feel the later TOS Trek films – 4 to 6 – became too much about the actors than the characters they were supposed to be playing . . . something a new cast could instantly remedy in STXI!

#20 The original concept was that Saavik was the traitor, but Kirstie Alley was either 1) truly unavailable or 2) wanted more cash than Paramount would be willing to pony up. Alas, Valeris was born, a relatively weak character wrongly portrayed by Kim Catrall.

And #21, you hit the nail on the head, the actors (Bill and Leonard specifically) dicated alot of the story towards the end. Remember Nimoy conceptualized the movie himself and Meyer went to work cranking out the script in record time so they could get a 1991 release date. Meyer is an efficient filmmaker, a literate and clever writer and a guy whom we should all be grateful for as his contributions helped save the franchise. Sure, he had an outsider’s view of the Trek universe, but he had a deep respect for the human adventure nonetheless.

Wow. I never knew there were Trek fans out there who didn’t like Nick Meyers. So many hold him up with Roddenberry himself as an example of what Trek is, even though Roddenberry hated some aspects that Meyer brought to the franchise.

In my opinion, Trek XI should be very simple in some respects, especially if it is set sometime in the TOS era. I just hope they don’t try to “shoehorn” to many coincidental meetings into the story. From the rumors I’ve heard, the story focuses on Kirk before he even becomes captain of the Enterprise, so an easy deduction would be that it’s set aboard another ship he served on as a lieutenant, perhaps the USS Republic. It would be neat to see Kirk’s relationship with Captain Garrovick and how it developed. Setting the film during this time period even makes it possible to feature Pike’s Enterprise and the first meeting between Kirk and Spock. To complete the triumverate, you could even have McCoy serving on the medical staff of the Republic so he and Kirk could meet as well.

That’s where I feel it should stop, though. I hate to say it, but we shouldn’t see Scotty, Uhura, Sulu or Chekov in this film. Yes, those characters are an integral part of Trek TOS, but if this film is set before those adventures, they should be left out. If JJ Abrams tries to force them into the story just to have them there, it will seem staged and artificial. Abrams has said he’s committed to maintaining the established timeline (which in itself is a major statement from a present-day Trek writer), so that actually leaves him with a lot of breathing room story-wise. I just hope he and the studio work very hard to get it right.

Trek is in a very precarious place right now. The remastered TOS episodes got a lot of press and reignited interest in the show, but it’s late night timeslot in many markets have kept it from being a real headliner (which it should be). If Trek XI doesn’t work, then the franchise will likely fall into a coma that it may never recover from. I’m an admirer of Abrams work, however, and I believe he’s got the chops to bring something great and unique to Trek.

As fans, we all have to keep our fingers crossed and do what we can to make sure Paramount (and CBS) know we’re watching this project intently. Because more than anyone else, we’re the ones who know what Trek is and what it is not, what it can be and what it should never be, so it can Live Long and Prosper.


23 Buckaroohawk

There have always been haters of Meyer’s Trek films. For me, he captured the essence of what made me a TOS fan in the first place: a high seas adventure translated into a sci-fi series, with strange foes lurking in the big unknown, risky landing parties where death can strike at any time, and men and women who, in spite of this, brave endless dangers to learn more about the universe and what it is to be human.

On the other hand, Roddenberry’s view of Trek changed down the years into a sterile communist vision where humans are all super-evolved and travel round the universe telling non-human races how super-evolved humans now are.

Rick Berman and his team subsequently did their best to divorce their Treks from TOS, except for where there was an opportunity to make them look silly in comparison with the Berman Treks!

Contrary to what has been said, Meyer’s work does represent one of a number of high watermarks in Trek. Nevertheless, it is merely one of many possible interpretations of Trek. Abrams needs to try to exceed all of that, and give us something different again.

I’m not so worried about Kurtzman and Orci’s script. They’ve worked with Abrams a lot before, so Abrams will push them to write to their strengths, rather than just use them as writers for hire!


Sterile Communistic vision?

I think you mean a more American Imperialistic egocentric philosophy.

But, that’s part of Star Trek’s undying charm.

In literal practise, no, it’s a historical and political pandora’s box imposing the culture of a few, on the culture of many,

however, it wouldn’t be Star Trek without Captain Kirk boldy interfering in the development of other civilizations with his self assured grandisement and feigned superiority complex.

Part of Star Trek’s appeal for me personally has always been the moment in any given episode Kirk raises his hands palms up to exclaim mightily for all the universe to hear “Your…..Bible is…….wrong.”

This of course has the effect of utterly destroying the inferior culture by awakening them from their self imposed delusions of isolationism, but we can accept a few sacrifices after all can’t we in the name of Lord Shatner.

#26, I think #25 was referring to the UNITED NATIONS IN SPACE show called “The Next Generation.” I for one am all about American Imperialism, mate.

#13. Josh – Sometimes, I am One. I have also been Two or Three. I’ve never, ever been Seven.

It largely depends if I remember to take my medication. Or, how much wine I’ve consumed.

But I am always Now, man. Even when I’m… Later.