EXCLUSIVE: Star Trek: Discovery Producers on Ship’s Design, Show’s Themes

Trekmovie.com yesterday attended a press event immediately following the announcement of Star Trek: Discovery at San Diego Comic Con that featured Discovery executive producers Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry, and Trevor Roth as well as Star Trek stars William Shatner, Scott Bakula, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, and Jeri Ryan. Trekmovie.com also conducted exclusive interviews with Kadin, Roddenberry, Roth, and Dorn.

The Discovery’s Design

During the press conference, Fuller responded to a question from Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz regarding how much influence an early conceptual design for Star Trek: The Motion Picture of the Enterprise had influenced the U.S.S. Discovery by stating “[it was] to a point where we legally can’t comment on it until we figure out some things.” When Trekmovie.com asked Kadin if the teaser for Star Trek: Discovery featured the final design of the ship, music, and logo, she laughed and said “NO! I was surprised Bryan didn’t say that, actually. I mean, we had three weeks to throw that together. We wanted to show fans…we’re super-excited by the score that this amazing composer, Fil Eisler, threw together as an audition and he did an incredible job. The concepts of the ship are totally what we’re going for and they’ll be honed up until, I think, the day we deliver.”

The Importance of Continuing to Push Boundaries

The Hall H panel on Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary and the press conference very much focused on the franchise’s role in pushing boundaries and promoting a better future, which is something that is clearly on Discovery showrunner Fuller’s mind. He said, “The state of this country right now terrifies me and saddens me and I feel like we need something like Star Trek to remind us that, collectively as a human race we’re going to get our shit together, and we’re going to build a better future, and we have to start working much harder on that today.”

Kadin confirmed to Trekmovie.com that Discovery would feature female, minority, and LGBTQ characters as she felt modern television did not accurately represent those groups in television shows featuring predominantly-caucasian casts. On the subject of LGBTQ characters specifically, Kadin commented that “is something that’s very important to Bryan [Fuller], and very important to all of us to portray.”

During a press conference, Kadin told TrekMovie that she feels a strong responsibility to make sure that women are represented both on and off the screen during the production of Discovery:

TrekMovie’s Kayla Iacovino caught up with the stars on the red carpet. You can find video and transcripts of our exclusive red carpet interviews below:

Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producer Heather Kadin

Trekmovie.com: I would like to hear more about what your role, specifically, is in making of the new show.

Heather Kadin: Sure. I’m a non-writing producer, so I run Alex Kurtzman’s television production company called Secret Hideout and we do everything from hire the writers, bring on Bryan Fuller, help pick out the director, interface with the studio, sit on set…I mean, we’re involved in every single process. So we’re more the steerers of the creative…I mean, I’m not a writer so I’m more responding to the creative and helping to steer it and conceptualize.

TM: All of the news that has been coming out so far about all the people who have been brought on board have been really well received so well done on that front.

Kadin: Thank you. That’s been a really important goal for us.

TM: I think it makes the fanbase optimistic about the new show.

Kadin: Totally…and hiring Bryan was the key. It had to be someone who was a fan first, so we couldn’t be happier. He’s amazing.

TM: Star Trek hasn’t been on television for over a decade and what was talked a lot about in the junket and in Hall H is the effect Star Trek has on people, and breaking boundaries, and pushing social boundaries. How in 2017 do you think Star Trek: Discovery can succeed in carrying on Star Trek’s vision?

Kadin: I think, sadly, still if you look at most television today, it’s pretty caucasian, and I’m fortunate enough to produce a show called Sleepy Hollow and in our first season there were more African-Americans in our cast than there were caucasians, and a lot of people talked about that. I think, at the time, it was called groundbreaking, which is sort of sad because it really reflected our country and so, on one hand, I think Gene Roddenberry’s original vision reflected what the world looked like more than what a lot of television does today. So hopefully our show can remind people that it should be that way and, hopefully in the future, we can all be together.

TM: Can we be expecting any LGBTQ characters on the show potentially?

Kadin: Obviously that’s important to Bryan, so that’s very important to all of us to portray.

TM: For the promo materials that we’ve been seeing, as the new trailer was released today, is that stuff the final versions?

Kadin: NO! *laughs* I was surprised Bryan didn’t say that, actually. I mean, we had three weeks to throw that together. We wanted to show fans…we’re super-excited by the score that this amazing composer, Fil Eisler, threw together as an audition and he did an incredible job. The concepts of the ship are totally what we’re going for and they’ll be honed up until, I think, the day we deliver.

Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producers Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth

TM: So Star Trek: Discovery, which has just been newly announced. You’re both producers on the show. What is your measure of success for the show? Let’s say…after the first season is over, it will be a success if…?

Rod Roddenberry: Just because this is how I’ve lived my life, it’ll be someone coming up to any one of us and saying “that was awesome.” I never looked at it that way, but I’m now inspired to do something different about it, you know? Someone who’s just inspired to live a better life.

Trevor Roth: Yeah and I think that’s a fair point and I think the idea of being able to somehow influence, transform, or change any given person…if not, hopefully, a lot of people. To make them think, to make them act…that’s the key to Star Trek.

Roddenberry: If they’re just entertained, I don’t think we’ve done our job.

TM: Since you two are representing Gene Roddenberry, do you feel a responsibility to make sure his vision is properly represented in the new show?

Roth: Yeah, no question. I think that doing our best to think about, okay, what’s allowable, and what continues what Gene created, and when also we have to say “it’s a different time…it’s a new evolution…it’s a new incarnation.” Things have to change as well, and progress. I think it’s difficult to figure out exactly where that leads, but we’re doing our best and we’re really excited about where we’re going.

TM: Star Trek hasn’t been on television for over a decade and it’s all about, as we heard from the panel, pushing boundaries, and inspiring people. How, in 2017, do you continue to push those boundaries?

Roddenberry: I think, in many ways, the first one is the way it’s being put out there, through CBS All Access, is one way. I think they’re really going to push a lot of boundaries with characters and with stories. Bryan knows Star Trek, and he’s an incredibly smart guy so he gets it, and he’s going to do it justice. I have no doubts.

Roth: I think that you push boundaries with Star Trek by continuing the tradition of Star Trek, which is to deal with circumstances or issues that really explore the human experience.

TM: What would you say is the mission of the U.S.S. Discovery?

Roth: Is it too obvious to say, to discover?
Roddenberry: Sure, and I’d say not just discovering aliens and new planets necessarily, but discovering things about ourselves. Star Trek has always been about that, so I think you’ll get a lot of that in the new show.

Star Trek Star Michael Dorn

TM: Talking about the new show and how it is really going to carry on the Star Trek legacy, yourself and the rest of the cast and crew talked about in the junket how Star Trek is all about inspiring people and pushing boundaries. As Star Trek hasn’t been on television for over a decade now, what, in 2017, new boundaries should we be pushing in the new show?

Michael Dorn: I think they had it correct. We’re at a place in our society where there was a lot of hope back in the 60s and 70s about where we would be in the 2000s, and I think we haven’t lived up to that hope. I think that that is, from what I hear…this is the first I’ve really heard from the producers about what they want to do…I think that’s very important. Science Fiction in the 60s always pushed boundaries because it was science-fiction, and it wasn’t mainstream so it was kind of like relegated to, yeah, you know, b-movies, but The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone really, really tackled some major issues and I think that’s what the original Star Trek did, and that’s what these guys are going to do because they really have a passion for it, and I think it’s a good idea because if it’s not going to come from science-fiction, then it’s not going to come from anything else. I think, hopefully, they’re going to be allowed to push those boundaries as much as you can and, you know…personally, I think the boundaries need to be pushed always. I think that we think of New York and LA as America, but that’s not America. America is the center of the country and it seems that they need their boundaries pushed.

TM: I always say that Trek seems to work best when the network are biting their fingers over what the producers want to do…

Dorn: Oh my god, yes. Like, you know, “are you sure you want to do that?!” And the thing is, they [the networks] have to realize that the world is not going to get sucked into a black hole if you see a black and a white woman kissing. You know, I’m sorry but…I went to school in San Francisco from 1973 to 1976 and people were gay and it was no big deal. And people now go, “did you see that interracial kiss?” “Did you see that two women were kissing?” And I’m going, “Are you kidding me? That’s not weird.” And here we are in 2016 and people are freaked.

TM: Hopefully we can change that.

Dorn: I think so, and if Star Trek can’t change it…then I’m moving to Australia, I don’t know…

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