In February Scottish actor James McAvoy was reported (by a British tabloid) to be in talks to play Scotty in the new Star Trek movie (story denied to TrekMovie.com by publicist a week later). Although McAvoy himself later stated "there is no truth" to the rumors, the actor seemed to be interested in the part. Now the story is back – the UK’s Sunday Mirror reported that McAvoy "had won the role" of Scotty and a follow-up in The Scottsman claimed McAvoy "was up against famous names and total unknowns." Although this may just be another ‘retread’ story from the tabloids, one source did indicate to TrekMovie.com that there may be some truth to the rumor. Initial calls to McAvoy’s representatives provided no concrete information. UPDATE: DeniedA spokesperson at McAvoy’s publicist’s office contacted TrekMovie.com to say "James McAvoy is not attached to the Star Trek project." When pressed for more info the spokesperson could not give any more details.
USA Today visited with the only two officially confirmed Star Trek cast members (Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy) at the Griffith Park Observatory. No major details revealed – but you can already see the pair of Spocks are already getting along well.
Last week TrekMovie.com ran a report on Brannon Braga’s appearance at the Vegas Convention. Brannon was kind enough to drop by and keep the conversation going in the comments section where he replied to questions and comments (and rants) from many TrekMovie.com readers. Since there are 200 comments it is a bit to plow through and many readers don’t read comments anyway, so the impromptu chat has been compiled below…
TrekMovie.com is proud to announce the triumphant return of "This Week In Trek" – your comprehensive guide to everything about Trek reported here and elsewhere. For this week in Trek we bring news ranging from from Bakula on Comedy Central, to Trekkie Dating to Real Tricorders to a possible political campaign? More details below.
In a couple new interviews Star Trek: Voyager star Robert Picardo talks on his time with Trek, his future projects and his thoughts on the new Star Trek feature. Picardo tells Seb’s Raw Takes that he initially did not have high expectations for his role as the Emergency Medical Hologram on Voyager, saying "when you accept a role that is described as ‘colorless, humorless, a computer program of a doctor’ you don’t necessarily have great expectations for how the character will develop.” The Doctor eventually became one of the break-out characters on the series and Picardo notes his thanks for how the show’s writers gave him "wonderful things to do” as his character grew and became more popular. The actor also endorsed Gene Roddenberry’s more optimistic view of the future, noting “we need more than ever to focus on the kind of hope and positive vision that Star Trek represents.”
As part of our 20th Anniversary celebration of Star Trek The Next Generation, here are clips from LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow visiting the TNG set during the first season.
TNG and DS9 star Colm Meaney is set to co-star in the US version of the BBC hit Life On Mars being adapted by Boston Legal creator David. E. Kelley. The show is about Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara), a modern day detective who finds himself back in the 1970s. According to the Hollywood Reporter Meaney is in final negotiations to play the role of the old school and confrontational Detective Gene Hunt. The BBC version of Hunt was played brilliantly by Philip Glenister who was key to the show’s success.
D.C. Fontana gives us her thoughts on canon, M’Ress, Ira Steven Behr, and so much more.
And now for something not completely different. Last week’s Tom Cruise as Pike and Russell Crowe as a villain Star Trek rumors rippled across the world and are now rippling back from British tabloids. This past week, the Daily Star ran a story claiming that Tom Cruise had actually ‘signed on’ to make a cameo as Captain Pike in the new film, even though that very same rumor was denied a week earlier. According to the tabloid’s supposed ‘source,’ “Star Trek was the start of the huge sci-fi craze and Tom is fascinated by all of it.” More recently, it appears that the Daily Express has received word from yet another ‘insider’ that Crowe “is definitely considering [director/producer] J.J. Abrams’ offer.” The insider also claims that Crowe “was always a ‘Star Trek’ fan as a kid, which is a big bonus.” Of course once the rumors got upgraded by the Brit tabloids they then got picked up by other news outlets (examples: here, here, and here).
Since TrekMovie.com first announced Paramount (and MI3) veteran Stratton Leopold was going to be the unit production manager and one of the executive producers for the new Star Trek we have not heard anything from him. He did join the usual Abrams mafia (Orci, Kurtzman, Burk, and Lindelof) on stage at Comic-Con, but he didn’t say a word. Leopold is more of a behind the scenes kind of guy keeping the trains running on time, but he did give his local paper the (The Savannah Morning News) an interview where he dropped an interesting tidbit about Shatner: Leonard Nimoy will be back as Spock, said Leopold, and studio executives still hope to convince William Shatner to suit up as Captain Kirk one more time.
As is the custom, when appearing at conventions together Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner each talk to the audience alone (one after the other) and then follow it up with a joint appearance. As Nimoy’s solo portion was winding down William Shatner came onto the stage and they had the following exchange Nimoy: How you been, Billy?Shatner: I’ve been pretty good – not as good as you, of course!Nimoy: Been working a lot?Shatner: (remorsefully) No, no — I’ve been waiting for the call…I’m hanging by the telephone waiting for the callNimoy: I’ll call youShatner: It’s not the same as J.J. …and it got funnier from there….
News on Star Trek: Conquest, 2007’s sole Trek game release, continues to trickle out. Now on Bethesda’s Blog Lead Designer Frank Arnot sheds more light on the Wii (and PS2) strategy game. Regarding the back story, Arnot describes it as a time where "all the major races are at war. Age-old alliances are forgotten, diplomacy is dead." So it would appear that although the game allows you to play as any of the combatants of the Dominion War (Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Dominion, Breen & Cardasian), they are in 6 separate camps and not 2 alliances. Arnot also lets out that you will encounter Ferengi, Borg, Orion and Xindi (bringing them into the 24th century for the first time). More info on the on the Bethblog .
Brannon Braga was one of the few Trek writer/producers to appear at this year’s Creation Las Vegas Star Trek Convention. Braga started off almost reticent, telling the crowd "it has been many years and so I am a little nervous." The veteran of Next Generation, Voyager and Enterprise made it clear that although Trek was an ‘amazing experience’ which occupied most of his adult life, he was not involved with Trek anymore and saw the con as a ‘nostalgic experience.’ After that, the Trek veteran’s appearance took on the nature of an exit interview with Braga inviting the crowd to get it off their chests: I wanted to stop by to say hi to you guys and to ask any last lingering questions you had. This may be the last one I do so this is your chance to get out you final gripes and questions.
[UPDATED] After being introduced as ‘the star of the new Star Trek movie,’ Leonard Nimoy hit the stage in Vegas, took off his jacket, and turned around to reveal his T-Shirt was emblazoned with “#1 Vulcan” on the back (sending the standing room only crowd of thousands into a frenzy). After things settled down he wryly said “I can’t imagine what you want to hear about today.” Spontaneously the crowd started chanting “movie! movie! movie!” Nimoy started off by saying “I’ve been on the Internet the last two days and what is amazing to me how people are spending their time on these blogs and website – TrekMovie.com – hundreds of people are on there expressing their opinions about what should be done with Star Trek next. People who have never directed a Star Trek episode, people who have never directed a film, people who have never directed traffic – are voicing their opinions about what to do with the next Star Trek movie. It is fascinating.” He then pulled our a sheet of paper and I knew what was coming next!
While the the eyes of the Trekkie world are focused on the Las Vegas Creation Convention there was Trek Toy news happening at Wizard World Con in Chicago. September 2007 brings a welcome surprise for fans of Johnny Lightning’s Star Trek ships. After the third wave of ships nearly two years ago, it was rumored that the toys would be discontinued by JL. However, better than expected sales led to a Wave 4 of ships.
Because things are so preliminary right now there was no appearance by any of the team behind the new Star Trek feature (except for Leonard Nimoy who will appear this evening). However, the movie people did want to let the fans know that they loved them and so a new poster was made especially to distribute to the attendees of the Vegas Star Trek convention. (click image to the right to enlarge NOTE: Hope to add a better image later.)
Star Trek Generation stars Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner hit the Vegas stage like rock stars. The pair began by clowning around and that continued for the most of their fifty minute appearance. The stage was set up for a concert later which inspired the pair to go into song, starting off with a rendition of ‘Volare.’ The comedy team also did some impressions including Patrick Stewart, with Spiner’s being especially spot-on, starting off “I am the toast of England right now….” Frakes then noted was the 20th anniversary of NextGen by reflecting on what it was like for him at his first Trek convention in Syracuse New York 20 years ago filled with ‘very very angry reticent Star Trek fans.’ The actor who played Riker on Trek’s return to television in 1987 recalled the crowd’s reaction to Trek’s first spinoff: “who the hell are these impostors…the bald guy from England, the cute one with the beard, and the Jewish android.” They also joked that it seems like there is an anniversary every year now (with TNG’s 20th following last years TOS 40th). Frakes then took a dig by saying “next year is the 20th anniversary of the best career choice ever made: Denise Crosby’s ‘I’d like to quit that show now, before it gets really popular.’”
At the CBS Products’ presentation at the Las Vegas Creation Star Trek Convention CBS Exec Paula Block stated they are just starting development for "really exciting new products" to tie into the new Star Trek movie. CBS still didn’t know themselves what those products will be, but in the Q&A follow-up it was said that ‘there is sure’ to be some kind of PC game tie. Block told TrekMovie.com that (besides Pocket Books) no licensees have been selected for the new film – so it should not be automatically assumed that current license holders (such as Diamond Select for toys or Bethesda for games) will be doing the products. The new film is the biggest merchandising opportunity for the franchise since the launch of TNG and let’s hope that they get this right. Block tells TrekMovie.com that there is a lot of new interest from companies that haven’t worked with Trek before and so hopefully we truly will see ‘exiting new products.’ One new item that was announced was a new ‘overview’ (tentatively titled ‘Star Trek 101’) from Pocket Books covering everything about Trek including a comprehensive episode guide from every series. The book will be released next fall just in time for the new Star Trek feature…more details below
Will there be even more Heroes connections to Trek? In a Comic-Con interview with IESB.net star James Kyson Lee said he wanted to join his co-star Zachary Quinto (the new Spock) in the new Star Trek movie – as the new Sulu. It does not appear that the actor has had any contact with the production, but he does know some people with director J.J. Abrams’ phone number (like Greg Grunberg and Quinto). The leaked casting sheet says Paramount would ‘prefer’ a Japanese actor so the Korean-born Lee would still qualify, however at 32 he is probably too old for the part. A few months back another Heroes star Masi Oka told TrekMovie.com that he "would be honored" to play Trek’s original helmsman, but noted that he didn’t think he would be able to work it around the Heroes schedule. Although NBC Universal and Paramount came to some understanding for Zachary Quinto, it may be a bit much for them to spare two Heroes cast members to the new film.
Is the NBC hit Heroes becoming a proxy for Star Trek?. First there was the popular recurring role for George Takei (TOS: Sulu), then Dominic Keating (ENT: Malcolm Reed) was announced to recur in the 2nd Season and then series regular Zachary Quinto was announced as the new Mr. Spock for the new Star Trek movie. Earlier this week Heroes creator Tim Kring told E! News that he was looking "for another face that will have a very similar impact" to Takei when he came onto the show. Now TrekMovie.com can reveal the ‘face’ Kring was talking about is none other than Nichelle Nichols, the original Uhura. Last week TrekMovie.com was told by a source about the Nichols casting and today had a chance to ask the actress herself about it (at the Las Vegas Creation Star Trek Convention). Nichols confirmed that she will have a recurring role, but couldn’t give any more details – noting the show’s penchant for secrecy. According to our source Nichols will appear in 5-6 episodes of the second season of Heroes.
According to sources in today’s Frettabladid, there are very good chances that the new Star Trek movie will be (in part) filmed in Iceland. Two production companies, Pegasus & Saga Film are still batting over the film, and now Paramount Pictures have sent over plans for the budget and the two companies are looking it over. Both parties are optimistic that a deal will be made and the new Star Trek will be coming to the small island nation.The article also states that director J.J. Abrams is coming to Iceland to look at the locations Paramount scouts looked over in June. (previous story).
The latest licensed Trek product allows you to get your own diplomas or land deeds from within the Star Trek universe – all designed by Denise and Mike Okuda. I visited the StarTrekProperties.com booth to check it out. (there is a very funny moment with Mike)
From the Las Vegas Creation Star Trek Convention (Thursday)Tim Russ, the director of the independent fan film Of Gods and Men (and VOY’s Tuvok), told the Vegas crowd that the first part of the anticipated and much delayed mini-series will ‘probably’ be available for download in September. He asked fans to be patient and said that the editors and CGI artists were doing ‘painstaking work’ on the 2nd and 3rd part. However, this is not an official release date. The first part of the mini series is pretty much complete now, but they want to be able to release all three parts over a few weeks…hence the delay. Russ also showed a new version of the full trailer with new CGI effects and it is an improvement over the one on the official site.
From the Las Vegas Creation Star Trek Convention (Thursday)Original Star Trek (and early TNG) supervising producer Robert Justman came to Vegas to show the crowd to show a rare documentary and take some questions from the crowd. Justman said that his work on Trek was the ‘emotional best’ ofhis long career in television, but the workload was ‘debilitating.’ The producer was asked if he thought Gene Roddenberry would have approved of the ‘more militaristic’ Deep Space Nine series (the first Trek series created after the creator of TOS and TNG passed away). Justman said that he didn’t know, but noted that “things change…rapidly at times.” Regarding change Justman said that he was “thrilled” about the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. He declared the premise or returning to the early years of the TOS crew ‘enticing and exciting.’ He was also very happy to hear that Leonard Nimoy was returning to play Spock.
Billy Blackburn spent three years as a background player on Star Trek, playing Lt. Hadley (pictured right) along with a number of other characters. Blackburn appeared in 61 episodes of the series and while he was there he shot some 8mm and Super 8 home movies. Blackburn ended up with a little over an hour of behind the scenes footage which has kept in a box for forty years. Some clips were used in a BBC documentary a few years back and it was the YouTube version of those that got the Trek Remastered producers interested. It turns out that Ryan Adams who works on the Trek Remastered project is Billy Blackburn’s neighbor. After watching the clips on YouTube he went to over to Billy’s house and asked if they could take a look at the stash…and now they are on the new HD-DVDs. I had a chance to chat with Mr. Blackburn at Comic Con.
Multiple reports (including TrekMovie.com’s sources) have indicated that Paramount and the Star Trek film makers want to balance the lesser-known actors of the main cast with some big name stars. They are determined to have the new Star Trek appeal to a much wider audience than previous Trek films and well known stars are part of that plan. The likely spots for the big names would be for Captain/Fleet Captain Pike and for the villain. IGN recently hinted they had heard about interest in a very big name for the villain and now they have revealed that name to be none other than Oscar winning actor Russell Crowe. However, they also noted this was only interest and that their source ‘seriously doubted’ that Paramount and Abrams could convince the busy star to make time available from his other big film projects. Although it is likely that Crowe will not be the one, it is an indication of the caliber and star power they are looking for.
In a new lengthy feature Business Week takes a look at the current crop of film franchises in Hollywood, including Star Trek. In their introduction they note that some franchises come to a natural end (like Lord of the Rings), others (like The Matrix) peter out, "but some franchises—a Bond or a Star Trek—will keep on going until the studios stop making money on them." The article includes a snapshot of 16 franchises, including Trek. On Trek they surmise…
Creation’s Sixth Annual Official Star Trek Convention kicks off on Thursday at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel (home of the Star Trek Experience). Creation are expecting over 15,000 Trekkies from all across the world to attend. 75 Star Trek Celebrities including Trek ‘captains’ William Shatner, Kate Mulgrew and Avery Brooks will be appearing. In addition to Shatner, all other surviving TOS cast members will be there (Takei, Koenig, Nichols and Nimoy). This year marks the 20th anniversary of Star Trek The Next Generation and and much of the cast will be in Vegas to celebrate: Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Will Wheaton, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton and even Dwight Schultz (Barclay). This year there will also be some big behind the camera names appearing, including Nicholas Meyer, Brannon Braga, Bob Justman and D.C Fontana.
Grindhouse hottie (and daughter of Oscar winner Syndey Poitier) Sydney Tamiia Poitier revealed last week that she auditioned for J.J. Abrams new Star Trek film. Rotten Tomatoes report on the Grindhouse DVD panel at Comic-Con quotes the actress asking "did they announce the cast of Star Trek? I auditioned for it and I’m curious who got what roles in there." She asked this while Paramount was making the Nimoy and Quinto announcement in another hall at Comic Con. No indication as to what role she might have auditioned for, but a good guess might be Uhura. However, Poitier is 34 which is a few years older than they appear to be looking for that role. It could be another role…a love interest for Kirk perhaps?
In an article about a new film project being set up at Paramount by J.J. Abrams company Bad Robot, Variety states shooting will start on the new Star Trek feature on November 5th. This is the first time I have seen a specific date, but it is in line with other recent reports both in the media and from sources at the studio. So assuming this all pans out, we are 89 days away cameras rolling. This would make it exactly 32 months since the last time any Star Trek was shot at Paramount (principle photography on Star Trek Enterprise ceased on March 5th, 2005).