Former Star Trek overlord Rick Berman has revealed that he at work on a previously promised memoir of his two decades with the Star Trek franchise. In a new interview, the ex-producer also talks about taking over producing Star Trek: The Next Generation from Gene Roddenberry, as well as creating Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.
Berman writing Trek Memoir + Talks Roddenberry, DS9, VOY & ENT
Four years ago, shortly after he ended his tenure at Paramount, producer Rick Berman said that he planned on writing a memoir of his Star Trek years. Noting much had been heard from Berman since, but apparently he is still working on it. In a new interview with the official Star Trek site, Berman says:
I have been writing. I’m working on something that I hope will eventually resemble a memoir about my 18 years at Star Trek. I
Berman also says that he has been traveling, doing charity work and that returning to writing and producing is "on the backburner".
Some other highlights of the Berman interview
- Bristles at notion that he was a "a studio suit", noting he won an Emmy and "had been a writer and producer for 15 years of my life" before working on Trek.
- Attributes two reasons for Gene hiring bringing him on to TNG: being younger than rest of team and having no Star Trek knowledge
- Says he wasn’t interested in putting his own "imprint on Star Trek" but to continue on with "what Gene set out to do with TNG"
- Setting for DS9 on non-Federation station was to allow character conflict without breaking Gene’s rule that by 24th century "human conflict that exists today had subsided"
- Finds notion that DS9 show-runner Ira Behr "tricked" him into allowing controversial elements into show "hurtful" and "not true"
- Did disagree with Behr over DS9 war arc and felt it "went on too long" and conflicted with Roddenberry vision
- Still feels adding sexy Jeri Ryan to Voyager was right move, saying she became "a very three-dimensional and textured character played by a wonderful actress
- Says he was "reluctant" to do Voyager at first and noted it was "difficult" to keep the shows "from getting stale and repetitive"
- Also reluctant to launch Enterprise so soon after Voyager and admits it didn’t connect, noting "I could take the blame for it. I could put the blame into the scripts. I could put the blame into franchise fatigue. I don’t know why it didn’t work"
- Admits that Enterprise finale "These are the Voyages" failed, upset the actors and says "I would have never done it if I had known how people were going to react."
For the full interview at the official Star Trek site: Part 1 & Part 2 (a third part will be posted tomorrow).
If you want even more Berman, check out his three hour interview with the Archive of American Television (article includes bullet-point summary).
Want a Berman book?
Rick Berman is probably one of the most debated individuals in all of Star Trek history. He oversaw the franchise for two decades and so like him or not, he was a key player and a witness to Star Trek history. So do you want to read his history with Trek?
Yes, Jeri Ryan was very three-dimensional.
(Somebody was gonna say it, I just got it out of the way.)
“Did disagree with Behr over DS9 war arc and felt it “went on too long” and conflicted with Roddenberry vision”
It conflicted with HIS interpretation of Roddenberry’s vision. I personally believe Gene would have loved the new Battlestar Galactica by Ron Moore. But thats my own interpretation of Gene’s vision.
I think GR would have only liked TOS and TNG, maybe Voyager.
Rick was not a bad Producer and Writer. He just did not listen to the fans like he should have. We the fans are the ones who decide weather a Series or movie will make it. I like the fact that Bob Orci comes on here and talks to us. There has to be come connection to the fans and I think that is the one big mistake that berman made. I hope the Court does not make that mistake and continue to listen to us and as Pros will take the fans wishes into consideration like they did for Trek 2009.
I kinda of agree with him about the Dominion War, actually. It feels like it took up a lot of time that could’ve been used to explore much more diverse stories, and then, when it was finally over — oops, so was the series. That said, it made for some compelling and emotional stories in its own right, so it’s not as if it ruined DS9 or anything.
I loved the Dominion War arc. War can really bring out the humanity in people and thats what Star Trek explores. It could have been handled different and it should have been more serious, but I enjoyed it all the same. I loved the tone of Enterprise and the cast. I don’t why it didnt work but I miss those characters and the relationships they had. I hadnt truly enjoyed watching characters like that since the 60’s Star Trek.
Jeri Ryan was far from a bad actress. She had the most to work with and created a character who was much more interesting the the cardboard cutouts of Voyager. Her character was a lot like Data, dealing with humanity in a way different then what Data had done. Didn’t hurt she is one of the hottest women on the planet.
This Franchise fatigue makes me chuckle. There’s 3 versions of CSI been made at the moment and i think made by the same writers (don’t quote). These shows are still doing great. 70 million worldwide i think. There alot more shows to compete with them 2 like NCIS, Criminal Minds etc. Star Trek didn’t really have any competion really. It just didn’t take risks. Just to sterile. I still love her though
“Did disagree with Behr over DS9 war arc and felt it “went on too long”.”
Because wars generally only last a day or two, am I right?
“Admits that Enterprise finale “These are the Voyages” failed, upset the actors and says “I would have never done it if I had known how people were going to react.”
As a Star Trek fan who didn’t like Enterprise in general, I still feel for every fan of Enterprise. What Rick says here is nothing compared to the disaster that the final Enterprise episode was to everything, not just Star Trek.
I think Mr. Berman did a good job with Star Trek, he oversaw Star Trek at it’s peak and that cannot be ignored. Of course their were wrong moves, the guy isnt perfect, no one is. Orci and Kurtzman did a lot of great things with the new movie, but it certainly wasnt perfect (Spock would NEVER be kissing ANYONE in front of people on the transporter pad like that) It was very unfortunate that ENT is considered a “failure” because going back and watching it, it really was a great series and I think it suffered from over exposure following so close to VOY. But the last episode did royally suck. I personally LOVED the war arc in DS9, it showed that even though humanity had evolved, we are still vulnerable to the rest of the universe.
Franchise Fatigue is the excuse of the lazy.
Manny Coto proved in the last season of Enterprise… that the creative and exec prod duties had needed to be handed over for YEARS.
Had Judith and Gar, or Manny, or someone like them been brought in during the very first year…. (that is, any writer with an understanding of what it is to be a PREQUEL), Enterprise might have gotten to seven full years, and then led into a Romulan War era sequel….
Enough time has passed, that is fair to say:
Gene Roddenberry: creator of Star Trek
Rick Berman: fatiguer of Star Trek
Manny Coto: almost re-creator of Star Trek
JJ Abrams: another re-creator of Star Trek
Sorry, Rick, I really don’t want your book. What would it be titled?
“We Were Pleased, You Were Not”?
P.S. Im VERY shocked that so many people dont want a Berman book
I suspect his book will be very interesting. I’m looking forward to it. There’s a substantial handful of great Trek from TNG, DS9, VOG and ENT. I think he did a good job under trying circumstances.
But what do I know. I thought the ENT finale was great.
#11- “Franchise Fatigue is the excuse of the lazy.”
And Ira Behr: The “evolver” of Star Trek.
Berman’s memoirs would be a great read, a lot of great Trek was produced under his watch. A lot of the Trek under Berman is better than Abrams stuff.
“Attributes two reasons for Gene hiring bringing him on to TNG: being younger than rest of team and having no Star Trek knowledge”
…boy was that evident! For almost 20 years is was evident.
And what’s up with Gene anyway….I knew he was going off the deep end with his antics at the helm of TMP…but wanting to make a new Star Trek that is nothing like Star Trek? Huh? That was pretty darn bizarre…or it could have been nothing more than a severe case of bitter grapes for being disconnected from the movies…and that’s why he had his hate on for TOS…proceeding to produce a TV show that was as far from TOS as you could possibly get.
Regardless, what was done was done…but after after almost two decades of suffering, I was more than delighted to usher OUT the Berman era’s interpretation of StarTrek, a classic series he, admittedly, knew nothing about.
#8 You hit the nail on the head with the fact that Enterprise was stale and without risks. I meant the characters lacked any kind of emotional depth – for example, the scenes where Earth gets blown up by the Xindi…or when they discover the casualties from the first Xindi probe attack….sure….they looked unhappy, but generally it was the same behaviour and expressions they had when they didn’t like the food they were eating in the mess hall!
It was just….plain…..boring – and it had nothing to do with the bland action scenes…ST:TMP had virtually NO action scenes but the characters were real and moving so it was a good film.
Archer just looked annoyed / T’Pol looked bored / Reed looked confused / and right at this moment…I can’t remember the name of the guy at the helm! Hoshi looked useless / only ONLY trip and phlox showed SOME level of emotion!
I thought Berman did a good job. Voyager could have been better but DS9 and Ent were great. My understanding is Roddenberry did not want an ongoing war on a Star Trek series. It was alright to mention a war that happpened in the past but not to show a war on a series. If that is true then what they did on DS9 and season 3 of Ent would conflict with his vision however that being said, DS9 and Ent were great because of it. Also I enjoyed the finale of Ent except for the death of Trip.
In my opinion Berman did great for Star Trek.
Eh, Berman was just at the helm too damn long. Even DC Fontana has said she thinks Gene would have enjoyed DS9. It’s not like he shied away from war stories on TOS! The only reason they didn’t have more pew-pew, zap-zap is they didn’t have the budget.
Behr & Moore both said they were happier once Berman lost interest in DS9 and moved on to Voyager. Berman was too worried about ‘Gene’s vision’ to be able to judge the material objectively (as were a number of people that worked with him).
My two cents on Rick Berman:
RE: War on DS9 – I think that was one of the best things to happen to Trek. It opened up new avenues for storytelling producing some of the most brilliant hours of Trek TV IMO of the entire TNG-era run (not just talking about the big battles either)
RE: Jeri Ryan – yes, she was obviously a sex symbol added to the series but if you look beyond the sex appeal you’ll find a great actor who played an interesting character. Not a perfectly written character, by a long shot, though, but then Voyager was very very far from a perfect show (should have been something between BSG and SGU with a little bit of Farscape thrown in).
RE: Enterprise Finale – hindsight is always 20-20. We ALL make mistakes and I’m sure we’ve all made monumental mistakes before that we look back on them and say “we shouldn’t have done that” so what makes Berman immune from this? He made a mistake, a monumental mistake and at least he can recognize is and maybe in Fringe’s alternate unvierse he didn’t made that mistake and we got a proper finale (next time I cross over I’ll bring back that DVD, along with season 2 of Firefly and the final seasons of Stargate Universe).
RE: Launching Enterprise so soon after Voyager – yeah, that was probably a mistake too. SyFy made the same mistake with Stargate Universe. I wish the producers of SGU would have talked to Berman to learn NOT to do that – they should have either A: let Atlantis run a couple more years and take a short break or B: run Atlantis for a couple years alongside SGU ala DS9 and Voy (or SG-1 and SGA). SyFy made a mistake in cancelling Atlantis and annoucing Universe the next day. Regarding Voyager, perhaps they should have broken the “7 seasons” rule and let it run one more season with the entire season being them at earth and wrapping up Voyager/24th century storylines THEN going into Enterprise.
RE: franchise fatigue. It is the excuse of the lazy. If you have good writers then you shouldn’t have a problem with franchise fatigue, and if they start getting tired, fire them and bring in a whole bunch of new writers who have the same respect for the franchise.
nice one 15 i so agree with you he did over see some amazing trek and i feel his book will gives us some very good insight into what kind of presure he himself was under by paramount ok he made some miskates like gene himself did not make any !!!
Mixed feelings about Berman really, though I think his influence on the latter day Treks is substantial, which means we owe him a debt of gratitude. I’d definitely be interested in a memoir and have no great disdain for the man like some fans seem to.
But I do think one of the reasons Trek dwindled over its later years was because it was essentially being presented in the same style as TNG – even the most distinctive, DS9, had the same hallmarks. Had Trek been completely reinvented, with an entirely different group of producers and writers, it may have remained strong; then again, it may not. It worked for the 2009 movie – partly because JJ Abrams and the writers learned the lessons of the past, saw what worked for audiences and what didn’t (eg the excesses of Batman and Robin led to the semi-realistic approach of Batman Begins).
I suppose the big question is, would TNG have endured if it had gone on for a few more seasons? The chances are, it may well have done – these were characters beloved by audiences. That said, I think 7 years was enough, and it’s always very satisfying to see a show bookended rather than deprived a finale.
Speaking of the finale, I didn’t hate ‘Voyages’; I thought it was a clever idea – the fan in me always found it a bit annoying that, of course, no-one ever mentioned the NX-01 and Captain Archer in prior version of Trek, so a retrofitting was a nice touch; it was just a mistake to make it the finale of Enterprise – we wanted a proper send off for these characters, not what was essentially a holodeck program and a surprise focus on Riker and Troi. However, I could see what they were trying to do, and admired them for that.
@ KJS – I want a Berman book – I think it’d be great.
As well I think that for all the complaining we all did at Berman and Braga (I did have a problem with how they ran it) Berman is being quite frank in this interview, and considering that it is on the official site – it’s not as if they are going to print a ton of material of him complaining about Paramount – and he is taking responsibility for decisions such as the Enterprise finale.
I don’t think the decline in ratings can be just blamed on the writing… or just blamed on franchise fatigue. I think it was both….
I started to watch Voyager, but I didn’t stick with it because I was too busy to follow two trek shows, and I was loving DS9, as for Ent – I saw the pilot and thought it was great, however I barely tuned in until sometime in season 4 I was simply treked out… Subsequently I having seen a lot of them in re-runs – I’m very glad I stuck with DS9 over Voyager, and Enterprise was mundane in my opinion.
And for people who say it wasn’t franchise fatigue – DS9’s ratings slipped and slipped while I personally feel the quality was there right up until the end & that it was Trek at its very best. I think a lot of us were Treked out.
I think Trek’s problems were really higher up at Paramount… Trek was over produced and underfunded – too many people had too much say in what happened….Look at the movies – Paramount’s brass would give lists of do’s and don’t’s (and we get Generations), the actors (Stewart & Spiner) often had too much say in what would end up on screen in the films (and we get Insurrection & Nemesis) .
As Paramount’s cash cow, and UPN’s flagship shows (VOY & Ent) there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Currently we are seeing the opposite of that with Abrams’ team – so far it seems they are being left alone… however there is often a trend in Hollywood to over produce these things into the ground (the 2 Joel Schumacher Batman films come to mind for movies for example).
I was glad when Berman’s time was up… Trek needed new blood. That said, I have no doubt that the more Paramount’s number crunchers come to rely on Trek’s place within the company the chances of history repeating will only go up.
@3 I don’t think that TNG 1980’s Gene would of liked Voyager.
I think that TOS 1960’s Gene would of liked Voyager.
And I think 1960’s Gene would of loved DS9.
well clearly he was wrong about the Dominion War arc thankfully they maneuvered around him.
And it’s amazing that he is willing to admit his error with the Enterprise finale “These are the Voyages”. that takes alot to admit that. Good for him
You know I really despise the Rick Berman bashing on this site.
It seems that its MUST HATE RICK BERMAN, MUST LOVE JJ ABRAMS on this site. ANd I hate that mentality.
Yes JJ Abrams did a good movie but a lot of GREAT Trek was produced under Berman’s watch. Through Berman, we had Michael Pillar, Jeri Taylor, Ira Steven Behr, Manny Coto, Ron D Moore and Brannon Braga. All these guys wrote great Star Trek stories.
Berman did his best to maintain Gene’s vision.
But everyone on here seems to treat JJ Abrams as if he were such a fantastic visionary of Star Trek. JJ Abrams to me made a good film, aimed more at the mainstream than the Star Trek fan. I loved the film but I do still believe that all JJ Abrams did to revive it was to dumb it down but made up for in character moments.
I love great action and the action in the new movie was fantastic but I like my Star Trek to have good stories. And although some episodes were weak, a lot of great Trek was produced under the Berman watch.
I blame Star Trek’s over saturation on Paramount. I really hate the Rick Berman bashing on this site.
I think that he did some great work on Star Trek, and I would read his book. His best years were TNG, DS9, VOY and the TNG movies.
Enough bashing. If you don’t like Treks past, then look to the bright future. (Lens-flare bright!)
Should be interesting reading as long as he doesn’t just stick to the party line. Hope he can be a bit more candid than he could be during his years running the franchise.
Can anybody give me a list of good Trek Bio’s that are worth the hunt down?
TNG was amazing. DS9 was very good. VGR and ENT were terrible. Franchise fatigue is key: no new ideas; everything recycled from earlier shows and not working together or individually.
I’m interested in this book: as much as I’d like to read about the triumph of TNG and DS9, I’d also like to know just how Berman would explain the failure of VGR and ENT. I simply can’t watch these shows.
I always though Berman along with Pillar did the best work on the 3rd and 4th seasons of TNG. The Best of Both Worlds is still one of the most favorite episodes of any trek. However it seems they dropped the ball after that. They could have focused on the borg threat and started evolving starfleet and the federation accordingly, instead it was just business as usual and I honestly thought seasons 5, 6 and 7 were just downright bland and boring. DS9 was a refreshing change once it got going but Voyager just never could find its way (forgive the pun) and Enterprise was just shear dissapointment. Berman and Braga should never have even attempted it not having the knowledge or spirit of tos. I respect Rick Berman to a certain point but I agree he should have stepped aside much sooner than he did and should never have been involved in the movies. As for his book………not interested.
Yes Berman was the main main in charge all those years, but frankly I put most of the blame for the stale and generic storytelling on the WRITERS. Even with all their restrictions (which every show has), there’s no way the writing and character development should have been as bad as it was.
Plus Berman always comes across very thoughtful and likeable in interviews, so I think a book by him would be fascinating to read.
I actually think that Paramount, more than anything is to blame for Star Trek’s demise. What the network wants the network gets and if it doesn’t get it you’re done. I watched that 3 hour interview with Berman ages ago and there were some very interesting insights on what he wanted to do with Enterprise and what the network wanted.
I’m sure there were other issues but how different would the remaining years of Trek have been if Paramount just let Berman do what he wanted?
I have more appreciation for the man now than I did initially. While I’m sure he’s not blameless, I no longer associate him as “The man who killed Star Trek” and hope that his future takes him to bright places.
Berman and Braga are terrible and killed Star Trek.
Sorry, sometimes popular opinion is correct.
Who’d buy this drivel? Rick Berman and his clowns wrecked this franchise with goofy characters, poor stories, tired revisits (let’s do time travel!) and bad special effects. Eeek… if only we COULD go back in time and convince Gene to give the keys to someone else. This guy owes US… don’t buy his crappy book.
Don’t forget, if you look up on IMDB, it shows that Berman, Moore and Braga are given credit for coming up with the story for Star Trek:Generations. That piece of dogshit is worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space! At least Plan 9 is FUN to watch!
Mr. Berman did some great stuff early on, and I for one thank him. There’s nothing wrong with insisting Star Trek adhere to Mr. Roddenberry’s “vision” for a while, but when fans lose interest, the ratings begin to decline and critics write unflattering reviews, then change is mandatory. Mr. Berman refused to change. The only breath of fresh air Trek got was from DS9… almost immediately after Mr. Berman stepped aside to concentrate on Voyager. When Star Trek’s ratings nosedived during Voyager, Mr. Berman very much should have resigned. I know that’s easy for me to say, I wasn’t getting the big paycheck from Paramount, but when your product fails, you make changes starting at the top. Mr. Berman needed to go. He didn’t, and Star Trek died on TV.
I’ll buy his book, because I’d like to hear the story from the man who was at the helm during Trek’s TNG heyday but also presided over Trek’s funeral.
I’m not a Berman-hater or an Abrams-lover or vice-versa. I liked Star Trek 2009, but Star Trek: First Contact is still a better movie, in my opinion.
#26 …”But everyone on here seems to treat JJ Abrams as if he were such a fantastic visionary of Star Trek. ”
That’s because he IS a fantastic visionary of Star Trek…circa 1966. Granted, his style and take on Trek is nothing remotely like TNG and it’s successors…but that is exactly why his vision works. It’s fresh and new, while at the same time, very familiar and true to its source material, TOS. A winning combination that was WAY overdue in my opinion.
1. Seattle Trek Fan – February 9, 2011
…..and VERY textured, too!!
Would it do any good to suggest keeping the Berman bashing to a minimum?
I thought the war arc definitely went too long on DS9, but I couldn’t stand Seven of Nine, hard a tough time watching Voyager after that.
#26 …”But everyone on here seems to treat JJ Abrams as if he were such a fantastic visionary of Star Trek. ”
Not me. He made a fun movie with a clever twist that allowed him to re-interpret TOS characters and situations, but it was a far cry from Star Trek I grew up loving. I rather liked quite a bit of Berman’s Treks. Even Enterprise!
I agree that the DS9 war arc went on too long. It lost me as a fan of the show and regular viewer, as it did many others.
Ah, I see the hate-fest is in full swing. Didn’t take long.
I rather liked his interview with the Museum of Television as a person. Although I watched TNG a lot of the time it and the other new incarnations/series were never my favorites. I never felt the new shows seemed like a logical transition from TOS – never felt like that’s where they would have ended up. I always thought it was weird where it seems to have gone to. Whoever you attribute that to.
The most repetitive human being in the history of human beings.
It isn’t hate. I respect Rick Berman for all he tried to do.
But I don’t care to read his book. That doesn’t equal hate, that simply means I don’t need to revisit the production of TNG, DS9, ENT, and the terrible sequence of TNG movies. Unlike TOS and the early TOS movies, where we didn’t have the Internet and major fan groups finding out information about the production and behind-the-scenes was a rare find. With TNG to now, we’ve known about everything pretty much as it happens.
Ira Behr, JMS, Ron Moore, and many others are qualified individuals who also felt Berman was out of his element. To write that any disagreeing opinion as “hate” is absurd.
I continue to insist though, that blaming “Franchise Fatigue” is lazy, and absolutely disconnected from reality. Trek Lives! Clearly, we are *NOT* fatigued by Trek as fans, and never were. However, for the executive producer to assign his own personal fatigue with his job upon us is and was simply unacceptable to me. He should have passed the reins on, brought in new creative teams BEFORE it was too late, and also after a few years learned the history of TOS and the brilliant backstory.
The reason I respect Bob Orci #1: same reason I respect Manny Coto. They did their research. They watched Trek, the read some novels, they talked to people about what they thought. That’s the sign of sophistication.
After all, it’s exactly what Harve Bennett did to rescue Trek after TMP’s so-so reception. He watched all the episodes *and took notes*. Were it not for him, and his going “We need Khan”, we wouldn’t be here today.
I’d like to hear his side of the story- explanations & excuses…
Gene took risks with race & politics- berman couldn’t even put a gay character in the background- Abrams has flare & an understanding of the original ingredients but again where was the gay crew member or muslim crew member or even a thought provoking sci-fi story?
“The Berman Years” – they had success & played it safe & became the mcdonalds of sci-fi & It made us all sick in the end.
Now the fat has been cut, they have returned to the original recipe lets hope they can keep it relevant & forward thinking.
They may miss some of the bible belt but the minorities that feel included & embraced will support them for a lifetime like the they did with the original show…
Btw i didn’t hate the later shows & even loved “Enterprise” oddly enough but they didnt do what the original did.
“Enterprise” didn’t start to fulfill its potential until Coto became involved- it didn’t get the same stage to play on as TNG, DS9 or even VOY & was ended over marchandising & advertising politics b4 it could become great.
Lets hope the next show is True Trek at its best.
#26 – I agree…
JJ Abrams movie was good…But there wasn’t any story or characters there…
Berman might have been with Trek at the worst, but he was there for the best as well…And Paramount is the one that forced on Enterprise when Berman said no, and to wait.
With Seven of Nine, she was hot, but I liked her character. She brought something to the show. Learning about humanity, and she did it well.
As did the DS9 Dominion war. It showed what war can be like. Though I hated Vic.
The final for Enterprise was an interesting idea, but it wasn’t done well…Though after the first two seasons, Enterprise got better.
ST 2009 is far from the best Trek though. The only thing I liked about it was that it helped bring life back to ST, and the special effects. I’m hoping the next movie has more story behind it. And brings out the characters a little more.
I liked Insurrection…