Burton and Nichols Compare Baird And Abrams

The last director to go to the final frontier was Stuart Baird for Star Trek Nemesis. Baird (who is an Oscar nominated editor) only got the Trek gig as payback for help he provided re-cutting Paramount’s M:I:II and Tomb Raider movies. After Nemesis bombed, the TNG cast have made no secret about how they feel about their final director. The latest example is in a new SciFi Pulse interview with LeVar Burton and TOS star Nichelle Nichols.


Burton noted that Baird "knew nothing" about Star Trek, and when asked if Paramount made the right call hiring him, the normally polite Burton said:

Well, I probably would have hired a different director. As a matter of fact am sure I would have.

Nichelle Nichols talked about her feeling on Trek’s new director, JJ Abrams, saying:

I have a greater deal of respect for him that, instead of going ahead and recasting after having initially got the green light from Paramount, which he could have done, he instead asked to meet separately and equally with all the original cast members. He didn’t make a big deal about it. I mean, he called one, he called the others and asked our agents if he could talk to us, and I went on and had lunch with him. We talked about it and he wanted to know my opinion.

…at which point Burton interjected

Just the sort of things Stuart Baird didn’t do


Nichols also talked about her role on the indie Trek mini-series "Of Gods and Men" and Burton discussed his most recent directorial work on the comedy "Reach for Me" in which he also acts alongside his "Star Trek First Contact" co-star Alfre Woodward. Read the full interview at SciFi Pulse.

Baird gets in Patrick Stewart’s face shooting "Nemesis"


VOTE: What could have saved Nemesis?
Was the 4th TNG feature film doomed from the start or would a different cast, script or director made all the difference? Vote in the latest poll (right column)


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I agree that Baird was not the right choice for Nemesis.

what happening with in the pictures with Beard and Picard in chair?


I really don’t get why they didn’t go with Jonathan Frakes again. He helmed the two best TNG films. Since Nemesis a screenwriter who was steeped in Trek knowledge, it seems illogical to have a director who knew nothing and was unwilling to learn (which I infer Levar Burton is saying here)

Yes, it seems he’s become the “nemesis” of the TNG cast.

There hasn’t been much negative press about Abrams’ relations with the new cast, thankfully. But it seems that the strong reaction to Baird didn’t surface until after the movie’s release? Was this the case? Anthony?

OK Anthony…the title of your story sucked me in.

I was half expecting to read that Burton and Nichols were going to say how much Abrams reminds them of Baird. I was happy to see which direction Burton took that comparison.

Well, he may have been a terrible director, but there is plenty of blame to go around for the giant turd that was Nemesis.

Baird gets in Patrick Stewart’s face shooting “Nemesis”

caption should read:

“From now on, I’m calling you Noodles. Hey, Levon — now, your eyeballs glow in the dark. Got it? Good. Let’s shoot.”

I don’t think another director would have mattered. Word of mouth didn’t kill this movie, it tanked right out of the gate on opening weekend. In other words, people didn’t see the film, realize it sucked and proceed to spread the news, causing the film’s attendance to drop the second week out. In the case of Nemesis, people, including fans, weren’t there for the FIRST weekend.

People just weren’t interested in seeing it, period. Seems to me, the TNG cast are just looking for excuses rather than accept the possibility that they had simply wore out their welcome.

# 4 – “it seems illogical to have a director who knew nothing and was unwilling to learn (which I infer Levar Burton is saying here)”

It’s one thing not to know but it’s also another thing not to learn about it. I believe Nick Meyer knew nothing about Star Trek, but I suppose he did his homework and look what he did for Star Trek.

# 5 – “But it seems that the strong reaction to Baird didn’t surface until after the movie’s release? ”

Well would you expect any less? Right on the heels of the movie’s release would they have been saying “Well the director knows nothing about Star Trek, we should have gone with someone else.”

“Seems to me, the TNG cast are just looking for excuses rather than accept the possibility that they had simply wore out their welcome.”

I agree to an extent, however, it was Star Trek in general at the time. I remember the movie was “expected” to do a $26 Million Dollar opening weekend. But unfortunately the movie just did not appeal to the masses. To be honest I thought the commercials sucked for the movie.

However, one can not over look how many bad reviews the movie had gotten. Would rather it had been an excellent movie than a bad movie, despite it’s gross.

Nemesis was nothing more than a good TNG episode.

Baird was a horrible choice to direct the movie, and it was a horrible reason that he got the job. His direction more than anything is what made Nemesis such a disappointment (I don’t think it was a horrible film, mind you, but it was *very* disappointing). Baird should just stick with film editing.

IMHO, natch. :)

“I probably would have hired a different director.”

well, for that matter, any real director, would be better than film editor :] but in the field of film editing – the nemesis IS the best, but that’s all…

If they were not going to let Frakes Direct it maybe they should have let Burton take a shot… his episode were always good… NEM could have been SO much better… I want more TNG…

#10 – Perhaps this was part of the problem. Sure, no one would admit Baird’s ineptitude publicly, during the movie’s marketing campaign, but what about internally? Was the cast voicing these concerns during production to TPTB? If it was so bad, wouldn’t you, as an artist, take a stand? I make no claims of knowing what goes on behind the scenes of a studio-made movie, and I respect the TNG actors, but it makes me wonder…

I love Star Trek, and I’m just not sure who to blame for Nemesis’ failure.

All in all, maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because now we have Abrams’ fresh take to look forward to.

Baird was only one of many issues with Nemesis. The main one was the script – a poor rehash of TWOK – STII.

JJ has approached the project with full respect and empathy.

The adventure continues…

I recall reading quite a bit that the reasoning on Baird was that he was to bring a fresh approach to Trek and revitalize the franchise.

Sound familiar?

#13 – Thank you, Anthony. I guess I was a little surprised at your headline – to suggest a connection between Baird and Abrams, given the overall positive feeling we’ve been getting otherwise.

But it is attention-grabbing…

I really hope the Next Gen gets the proper sendoff they deserve. Maybe when this 3 picture deal with Abrams is over, they’ll have one more go at it.

@1 – lol

He did seem to especially annoy “Laverne” Burton (as he apparently insisted on naming him) and his oft reported disregard for what had gone before (it’s PHASERS you toe rag!!!) did seem to say it all.

The thing is though, how much of that was down to Baird, and how much to the script by Logan? I’ve read a few things by Logan since then, and he is plainly someone who knows how to put together a great script. I loved Sweeny Todd and Gladiator is a great, great film in my humblest of opinions, but I really disliked Nemesis intensely. Even the credits annoyed me (that font looked stupid!!)

Both films have superb directors though.

It’s just interesting to ponder whether the Nemesis script in the hands of a better director could have been a good film. Could even be that B4 (retch), Mad Max Picard and Troy’s wholly unneccessary violation scene were all Baird’s fault?

Did anyone actually buy it and wade through the director commentary or an interview where Baird fesses up to poisoning the well? (Does he sound like Dick Dasterdly on the commentary track?)

I admit it’s the only Trek film I’ve never bought. And I’ve bought the others in pretty much every format they came out on. But it just pains me too much to watch it again.

I downloaded the Nemisis script a year before the movie and thought it was great. As soon as I heard Baird was directing, I thought of his movie US Marshals which didn’t hold a candle to The Fugitive. The pacing was bad, the big scene didn’t come until halfway through the movie unlike the Fugitive’s train wreck in the beginning.

I’d say Baird was to blame and Frakes would have made a great Nemisis Movie

A different director like Frakes would have created a different “feel” on the set and would have possibly worked with the writers on some changes. Frakes “gets it” and Baird did not. Star Trek is very complex with a 40+ year history which Baird had no respect for.

That is what I like about JJ and his team. He brought in folks that like Star Trek, who “get it” and respect what it means to all the fans and those that have worked on it in the past. I think it is cool that he invited all the TOS actors to the set.

Star Trek is the only TV/movie property I can think of that has such a long and distingushed history. Paramount dropped the ball placing it in the hands of Baird who was clueless.


Agreed, the commercials for the movie just did NOT make it look very appealing. It was really dark and grim and didn’t look like it would be even remotely fun.

You could almost hear people rolling their eyes in the theater during the trailer. “Oh god, another one of these…”

I also think we were in the midst of the first three years of Enterprise which didn’t help.

Let’s look to the future of Trek which looks very exciting

Anthony, that picture of Levar Burton is terrible.

The man looks deranged… :D

Baird is and always will be a prat.

And the caption should read:

Stewart: “You, know, I can see up your nose”

Frakes would always be the better choice. Keep it in the family, but with Lord of the Rings The Two Towers opening the following week, didn’t help. They should have chosen a different time slot for Nemisis

I watched Nemesis yesterday… And beeing the geek that I am, i listened to Rick Berman’s comment track, and he actually said that “Frakes was busy with another project at the time” (Probably Thinderbirds?)…

I would like to see a new cut of Nemesis. Perhaps for a blu-ray release.

Patrick Stewart was talking about the possibility of an actors cut, some years ago.

One thing is for sure: The 2002 version of Nemesis is unworthy, beeing the last TNG-Movie.

It’s bad how Baird fared
The actors he scared
He stunk up the place
And lost the Trek race
He shouldn’t have dared!

I thought the movie was good, it’s the one sheet poster that sucks.

#9: I’m wondering how many of the Trek fans were influenced by The Facer’s annotated script review that made the rounds of the ‘net several months before the film’s release. I read that version (one that, if I remember correctly, John Logan himself denied was the version of the film they were shooting–even though it was) and I found the script to be utterly dreadful, made enjoyable only by The Facer’s witty and withering commentary. I avoided the film the first weekend in order to see if the advance review was correct. Clearly, it was.

#13: I actually was in Nordstrom at the Grove here in L.A. a week ago, and happened to overhear a Trek crew member chatting about the new film with someone else in the men’s department. I surreptitiously looked at a row of jackets as a way to listen more to what the guy was saying. Unfortunately, he didn’t spill any details other than to mention he worked in an on-set construction capacity, but his opinion of his experience on the film was extremely positive. That doesn’t say anything about how good or bad the final product will be, but at least it confirms what everyone else is saying about the new movie’s working environment.

I absolutely despise the end of Nemesis. That tainted my opinion of the rest of the movie.

overall i quite enjoyed nemesis… now insurection, theres my least favorite trek film, that the shats try at directorship…

#22 – Re: your question about Baird’s DVD commentary . . . I listened to it when I bought the first Nemesis DVD (the single-disc), and it was AWFUL. When he’s not proudly saying how he cut the character scenes to keep the action moving, he’s leaving us with long stretches of silence. The only thing worse is watching Rick Berman’s introduction to the deleted scenes.

The film tanked because the script called for Picard to re-instate the Romulan Empire at the end.


This movie was the worst of all possibilities: recombining old plots from every movie that worked instead of at least stealing from other sources. Think about how great First Contact was: it stole from Shakespeare AND George Romero.

At it’s cold blooded heart, the script was fascist in sensibility and execution.

Instead of strange new worlds, Picard fights his prissy double. Instead of political satire or even intrigue, we see a film, completely dark with relentless brutality at it’s core, all for numbnut reasons that wouldn’t even cause two jealous jocks to fight over a girl a football field.

It followed the trend of every action movie in it’s pacing and it’s design. A large phallic object is about to penetrate a sweet round one. There is a little bit of pre-destruction along the way, but conservatism rules. Nothing changes. Even Data’s memory is erased.

Sorry if I’m being poetic. I dragged my girlfriend to it and had to live that down.

@31 – that’s very interesting that he said that… I’m sure I remember seeing Frakes in the actual film though, so he can’t have had *that* much of a schedule conflict…?

It does simply sound like Baird got the job for the wrong reasons, and Rick Bergman is making excuses…

@32 – an actors’ cut could be quite funny… would it be full of the actors hamming it up big style? You can picture it all being big long talky Picard moments… heh! Actually, that’s still a huge improvement.

There were bits I liked. I liked Shinzon lots and thought the actor did a very good job for the first half of the film. I just think I’d have preferred it if he’d not been a clone with a disease that was about to kill him THE SAME FREAKING WEEK THEY DECLARE WAR…. sheesh! Oh look over there… it’s a gigantic implausible co-incidence field Captain…

#34: No kidding about that sucky poster. I kept praying that was the teaser, and something better would show up. Instead, all we got was Data, two bald guys, a knife, and green smoke . . . bad Photoshop that screamed “straight to DVD.”

And, the most frightening thing about Tom Hardy as Shinzon was his horrible teeth. Even Skeet Ulrich finally got dental work.

What would’ve made “Nemesis” better?


No dune buggies.
No B4.
No Tom Hardy (Patrick Stewart in a dual role, instead).
No Stuart Baird.

That’s a start.

Poor Patrick Stewart looks wholly uncomfortable in the above picture – one can only imagine what he was thinking as Baird positioned himself over him in that way. Methinks Baird has no understanding of social etiquette.

@38 – that does sound about right… he did think it was an action movie didn’t he?

I think I’ll wait for the Blu Ray Super Duper Actors’ Edition with LeVar Burton’s commentary where he slowly roasts Baird’s feet over an open fire….

Baird, Schmaird. The whole idea of the movie, it’s story, couldn’t have been saved by anyone.


Unless Stuart Baird constantly berated the actors, kept them working overtime, made a pass at Marina Sirtis and kicked Patrick Stewart’s dog, I am again amazed at the vitriol that gets spewed at this guy, ESPECIALLY the cast and crew!

Yeah, he helped to make a poor film, but he wasn’t the only one… sorry, but the ACTORS slept-walked through their roles in NEMESIS, spouting lines from a yawn-inducing script by John Logan, under the dictatorship of Rick Berman.

Give Stuart Baird a break, for cryin’ out loud. NEMESIS was going to be bad no matter WHO directed it…

#19 YUBinit –

Give it up already.

Actually, Baird’s body language and personal-space invading pictured above reminds me of that pompous (fictitious) director in ‘Entourage’. What was his name, Billy something? A type ‘A’ A-hole, lol. Anybody see that?

After all was said and done, there wasn’t anything that could’ve saved Nemesis. I think that it would have to be done from the floor up in order to have made a good movie. That would mean a COMPLETELY different plot and script. Not to mention a new director. Baird should NEVER be given the captain’s chair for another movie (not just in Trek) EVER again. If Nemesis was any indication of his work, he’s not worth his Hollywood paycheck.

I hope that some day he reads all of these bad reviews about him.

On the plus side, Abrams has gone through a major publicity reign recently with the reviews of Cloverfield. I think he’s going to do great on Trek. For once, I have faith in the heart.

Back to the negative side: the only part of Nemesis that I liked was the brief one-minute cameo of Admiral Janeway. Voyager was a good series. Enterprise can go and die for all I care, though. Bakula gets thrown in the “Baird” pile, minus a few good episodes.

Abrams, do us proud.