Abrams & Lindelof Lament Effect Of Strike On ‘Star Trek’ + Trek Loses XMas 08 Competitor

As reported before, Star Trek producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof planned ahead to ensure that the script for the new movie was ready to go in time for the WGA strike. Even though both are currently at work shooting the new film, they also are supporting their fellow WGA members (including walking the picket lines). Friend and fellow writer John August joined the pair outside Paramount this week and reported on his blog that they have felt the sting of the strike while shooting the film.

From the blog:

J.J. was describing a scene he was shooting the day before. Midway through it, he got a great idea for a new line. Which he couldn’t write. Couldn’t shoot. Couldn’t be in his movie.

Damon described it like having one of your superpowers taken away.

As discussed in a previous article, during the strike no new changes can be made to the script written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Abrams and Lindelof are also members of the WGA). They can use anything from previous drafts and lines ad-libbed by the actors are allowed as well. It is possible that new lines could be shot or recorded later if the strike ends in time for them to be edited in. Talks between the WGA and the representatives of the studios and producers are scheduled to start again on the 26th.

For more see John August’s blog.

A Good Effect From The Strike…Trek loses biggest competition

The biggest competitor for Star Trek in December 2008 box office was going to be Angels and Demons, the prequel to the 2006 hit The DaVinci Code starring Tom Hanks. The film was slated to open the week before Star Trek and some worried that it could do to it what The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers did to Star Trek Nemesis in 2002. But it looks like that wont happen. Variety is reporting that due to the strike Angels and Demons has been delayed to May 2009. Of course Hanks is a huge Trekkie and now it looks like he has some free time…maybe they can find a cameo for him.

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Why doesn’t he just make a mental note and re-shoot that scene later?

That’s really too bad that their hands are being tied like this. Hopefully the movie won’t suffer too much for it. I’m still looking forward to the film with great anticipation!

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers did nothing to Star Trek Nemesis,,,

Nemesis was a train crash waiting to happen,,,

and a 3 story arc of that would of been the death of trek

“Which he couldn’t write.”

Step 1: Find a pad of paper
Step 2: Write it down
Step 3: When strike is over insert into shooting script

Or does the above go against the spirit of the strike? They have a vested interest in this film actually being a success so if they don’t even do what I described above (or something similar) then (unfortunately) their priorities are misplaced by allowing a possible improvement from ever being implemented into the final product.

Would it technically be considerd writing if he dictated to a non-union writer or one of the actors what he wanted them do to or say and not write in the script?

aaarrrggghhhh hanks should have been pike!!! now he can play shatner instead!!!

That concerns me a tad. Many good films have edits made to the script during production, so all this does is tie the producers hands.

Hopefully they will work out a way to put the new lines in – although going back to reshoot a scene many months later is expensive.

They should do what is best for STAR TREK and when it is best for STXI to change a line or two they should change that line!
The movie always must come first!


Not sure about your suggestion means in terms of violating the spirit of the strike, but my guess is it isn’t that easy.

a) I believe the last strike lasted something like 5 months. If that happens again, it’s possible that shooting on the movie will have already wrapped by the time the strike is over. Sure they could call back whoever is in the scene and the film crew, but that’s expensive and the bean counters at Paramount may not go for it. I know movies re-shoot scenes often, but my impression is that only happens when the film does poorly with test audiences and major plot sections have to be re-worked. That’s usually the sign of a movie that’s in trouble.

b) Even if the movie is still shooting when the strike ends there may be a prohibitive cost in re-shooting the scene with the new line. Movies work on pretty tight schedules with lighting setups, rehearsal, and shooting of an individual scene from different angles requiring hours or even days in some cases. If the scene in question is on location, or somewhere other than the bridge or another Enterprise location, it may not be feasible to go back and re-shoot simply to get the better line.

Don’t get me wrong. I want Paramount and JJ to spend whatever’s required to get the best Trek movie possible. But what we could count as a justified expense and what Paramount would count as a justified expense are probably 2 very different things.

If a line is that important it can be “looped in” right up to the last minute using a cutaway scene or a specific shot that you would have to imagine JJ will still shoot. They could also bring the actors back. Although expensive…you do it…like the 2nd ending of Generations that was reshot.
A line is one thing …let’s just hope there’s not entire scenes that require re scripting.

With opposition releases now falling by the way because of the strike this can only enhance STAR TREK position. Let’s hope Paramount and JJ keep the cool heads they seem to have displayed during the development of this project and plan for these catch up amendments to be slotted in before the Movie is released. Even with another 5 month strike there will still be time.

How lame. If he is that much of a slave to the union no wonder hollywood is in trouble. Union before creativity, loser.

Of course, the positive here is that they have an extensive library of footage to fill in any scripting issues. They could make a whole film of flashback scenes as Spock recounts his favourite missions – Star Trek: The Shade of Gray Cut.

“Now thats what I call a sticky situation”

Oh yeh, and rule of thumb, never piss of a union …. those guys know where you keep your kneecaps.

I am way up on the list of people who don’t like unions. But in this case I am with the writers. The studios are making billions off the secondary markets and the people who actually created the basis for the shows are not seeing any revenue from those arenas. Remember the old credo–if it ain’ton the page it ain’t on the stage.

Abrams is honoring the strike by letter and spirit of the law and I applaud him for his honesty. He may think there will be no chance to go back to reshoot this moment. So much depends on the length of the strike.

We should be grateful that the ST script wes put to bed in time and we will have our movie on schedule.

I’m supportive about the whole strike and I really believe that the writers have every right to fight for their cause.
But if that means, that they can’t (or won’t) make the films and shows they want that’s very lame and seriously against anything an artist should stand for. I mean, it’s just a line. Who can tell whether it was an ad-lib or written down somewhere?
These guys don’t want to be slaves to the evil studios, but they can enslave themselves to the union and destroy their own projects? Sure. Fine. Whatever. I don’t think so.

I’m sure it’s just one line… It may be just a quip, and I’m sure that it will not harm or help the film in the least.
So it goes…

-Commodore Redshirt [formally “Redshirt and NOT “Red Shirt”]

Just what I worried about – some of the most inspired material comes on the spur of the moment during the actual moment of filming.

Since DaVinci Code tanked utterly at the box office, I can imagine a prequel doing very well…hmpf…some “competition”…lol


I assume that you are kidding about the ” The Da Vinci Code” being a bust at the box office.

Just in case you aren’t kidding. You should know that “The Da Vinci Code” made $758,000,000 world wide at the box office.

Whisper it to the actor…whoops, improvised line. Who would have thought?

They had plenty of time to get the script done to the point where they liked it. It seems to me this is the first of the “excuses” that will be used if it turns out less than well received. And the director is perfectly entitled to “make things up on the day” and shoot it differently. Happens all the time… even when directors are not WGA.

It is painfull, for sure. I purposely have not re-read the script because I can alwyas think of a better line somewhere or another with each reading…but there’s nothing we can do.

Luckily, I stand by the script, and think it was ready to shoot. Obviously, everyone else agreed. I just hope it all works on screen!

Too bad. Too bad.

Abrams and company are professionals, and they are in support of the strike, so that means they aren’t going to find sneaky ways around it. What would be the point? If you want to go against the strike and hire scabs, just do it, don’t pretend to support it and then search for loopholes. So, that’s why he “couldn’t write”.

^22 roberto Orci

An English professor once said to us, “Writing is infinitely perfectable” so the time comes when you must say, “Good enough!”.

Still, the spoken word –as director to actor — is hardly “writing”. As a one-time AFM member, I sincerely hope WGA does not claim speech as writing — or the case might be made that speech is closer to music than writing!

#22 is old spock going to pretend to be his cousin salek like he did in yesteryear?

you grok!

“…some worried that it could do to it what The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers did to Star Trek Nemesis in 2002. ”

So it was LotR’s fault that Nemisis had a bad script, poorer than usual acting, and generally sucked like a Hoover?? Whew, I’m glad we can finally place the blame SOMEWHERE! :)

Hi Roberto. It’s the artist’s curse, always wanting to go over it again and again, refine it, improve it, add this, remove that, all in the name of perfection, eh? I stand with the majority of Trekfans who are cheering you on every day. You have our support and confidence, and we’re pretty damned excited about seeing the return of our favorite starship captain and crew. Now, I seem to recall the last time there was a writer’s strike, a number of screenwriters took the time off to write a book. If it’s not to much to ask, how about a Star Trek novel from you guys? (alright, maybe I’m pushing my luck!)


Nice to see Mr Orci and Mr Dochterman here.

On Topic:
One would hope that there would be some sort of leeway for on-going productions; It seems that Nick Meyer hammering on the Shat to “bring it down” in TWOK made for an excellent performance-

At what point does Mssr Abrams sacrifice good work for solidarity? I completely understand the need for the strike, however there should be some sort of flexibility for just this sort of situation.

For example:
The writers may actually get LESS Digital royalties if a given movie does not do as well as it should (scene does not work… read: corny $5.00 Starfleet “Ryker Joystick” in Insurrection).

Re Hanks-
No writers…. no sneaking him in (Unless he is just standing around watching a Joe vs. The Volcano hologram)

Oh and PS- Is there still time to change the name of the Shinzon/Nero character to something less… “Earth like”?

I always find it very humourous that the directing talent we have on the new trek is from the writer of “Gone Fishin’ ” with Joe Pecsi and Danny Glover … I suppose if JJ makes a bad decision people can alway use that fact as leverage. ( Aww, he was probably young and foolish – and he has made up for that a few thousand times now I think …. )

I’ve always wondered what “percentage” a script has on the total outcome of a movie? If Paul W.S. Anderson or .. umm … Uwe Boll had directed the Shawshank Redemption from the shooting script how different would it have been? Can a good director make a bad script good. Can a bad director make a good script bad. I’d love for someone to give a script to 3 different major directors, force them to follow it line for line and see what we end up with.

“Which he couldn’t write”….You whisper the line into the actor’s ear and it’s called an ad-lib!

Now that “Angels and Demons” is delayed, please PLEASE reschedule “Star Trek” to open in its place. The December 25 premiere is absurd. Has a hit movie ever opened on 12/25? The closest is probably “Night at the Museum” which opened on 12/22.

Good god. How completely stupid.

Please for the love of Christ!!! What’s up with the HD-DVD version of TMP

Daren???? Anyone??????

The grainstock on the standard dvd blown up on an 1080p HD monitor is so heavy it makes many scenes unwatchable. Will this be addressed in the HD release. Saw Daren’s name in the credits when I watched it the other day

Roberto – has the part of the “Federation Captain” already been cast? You don’t have to say who it is if it has been cast – just a simple yes or no would be great.

I’ve been concerned how the WGA strike could effect the production, and now my fears are realized.

I’m sure Abrams has scheduled the production in such a way that many of the limited dialog scenes can be filmed now, while saving the meaty stuff for later when the strike may be over.

Can he feed lines that he thinks of to the actors or maybe just meet with the actors in private and have them ad-lib his new lines?

How do we really know that:
(1) the scene with the new line was shot already at minimal cost and it sits awaiting the end of the strike
(2) that the new line wasn’t quietly given to one of the more trustworthy actors to bring up as an adlib (afterall they aren’t writers and have a vested interest in their movie’s success)
(3) that the strike doesn’t end soon enough for this not to be a big deal
(4) that the new line in retrospect might have sucked anyway
(5) that the new line might really have just been an old line from a previous draft that can be used but they didn’t realize it at first glance.

Telling an actor to repeat after me isn’t writing because it isn’t written.

Actually, the WGA rules allow for actors to ad-lib new lines while shooting during a strike.

There was nothing to stop them adding the lines verbally.

That this is an “excuse” is nonsense.

What’s being reported is just some commiseration at the picket line. That’s a long way from a declaration that the movie is in any kind of trouble or an attempt to shift blame to someone else for any eventual failure.

For good examples of either of those things, BTW, one needs look no further than Gene Roddenberry’s public statements about “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” a film that really *was* an underplanned clusterfuck made by all the wrong people.

Kudos to Abrams, Orci and all the others for honoring the spirit as well as the letter of the rules of this strike.

Every movie I’ve ever heard of, the director uses the base script like toilet paper. Why should this be diff? If JJ’s wearing multiple hats, then all they need is a mirror. Adjust your wardrobe and make with the funny lines.

I’m not involved in any HD work on TMP at this point. If that changes, I’ll let everyone know. :)

39 – yep, actors too. Think Harrison Ford’s magnificent “ad lib” in “Raiders…”

Why doesn’t he just do it.. like who cares really… who’s gonna know and run and tell on him? Childish if someone did. This strike is sad but understandable.. networks need to get their stuff in gear and just pay them and end it…

Hopefully, the strike can end quickly after they continue talks, that way they’ll be able to add all of the things they think of during filming.

#44: “Why doesn’t he just do it.. like who cares really… who’s gonna know and run and tell on him?”

Uh, because he evidently has something called “integrity.” Good to see that it’s not in short supply among the producers and writers on this movie.

Mr. Orci, in post #22 you say, “I just hope it all works on screen!”

Isn’t that a far cry from your earlier proclamations of (paraphrasing) “you’re going to love it!” and “if you’re not happy you get your money back”??

It’s either a CLASSIC, GREAT…..or NOT QUITE GOOD ENOUGH…..er, strike or no strike….what does your “gut” tell you today?

#47:”Isn’t that a far cry from your earlier proclamations of (paraphrasing) “you’re going to love it!” and “if you’re not happy you get your money back””

Hmm. My memory is fallible. I’d like to see those original quotes, with links, rather than the paraphrases. ;)

Yeah, when one ponders the concept of “integrity,” the first word that comes to mind is always “Hollywood.” It is, of course, the last bastion of integrity.

If it really is just one line of dialogue, and not a whole scene or multiple pages, then, um, just have the actor “ad-lib” it. Otherwise, eh, the script is supposed to be good, right?