Once again the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery is going through a shakeup at the top with the second change in showrunner for the series. First reported by The Hollywood Reporter and confirmed by Variety and Deadline, executive producers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts have been let go.
Discovery’s co-creator and executive producer Alex Kurtzman will take over following a planned production hiatus after episode five of the second season. THR also reports that executive producer and Kurtzman’s right-hand man Akiva Goldsman has not returned for season two.
CBS confirmed these changes to in a statement provided to the trade press:
“We’ve made some producer changes at Star Trek: Discovery, the series continues under the creative vision and leadership of executive producer and co-creator Alex Kurtzman. Discovery remains on course for season two in 2019 with new and continuing stories that build on its successful premiere season.”
A troubled writers’ room
The ousting of Berg and Harberts is said to be due to leadership and operational issues, and not based on their creative work. According to THR’s sources, the pair were behind tensions in the writers room. From the THR report:
Berg and Harberts became increasingly abusive to the Discovery writing staff, with the latter said to have leaned across the writers’ room table while shouting an expletive at a member of the show’s staff. Multiple writers are said to have been uncomfortable working on the series and had threatened to file a complaint with human resources or quit the series altogether before informing Kurtzman of the issues surrounding Berg and Harberts. After hearing rumors of HR complaints, Harberts is said to have threatened the staff to keep concerns with the production an internal matter.
THR is also reporting that the premiere episode of season two went well over budget, and that subsequent episode budgets would likely take a hit due to the overspending.
Moved up after Fuller exit
Berg and Harberts were originally brought as writers for Discovery’s first season by co-creator and executive producer Bryan Fuller, after having worked with him in the past. The pair were tapped to take over Fuller’s showrunner duties after he left the series in October of 2016, following clashes with CBS over budget constraints and deadlines.
Both Berg and Harberts have writing credits on three episodes of Discovery’s first season. They co-wrote the one episode (“Context is for Kings”) which CBS recently submitted for consideration for a Best Writing Emmy. They have also been highly visible faces for promotion of the show with multiple appearances on After Trek and a number of panel discussions, including one just a few days ago.
Goldsman not returning
In another departure, executive producer Akiva Goldsman has reportedly not returned for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. According to THR, Goldsman was said to have “a management style and personality that clashed with the writing staff.” It is unknown whether or not he will retain an executive producer credit for the second season.
Goldsman was brought on after Bryan Fuller’s departure as an executive producer and directed two episodes in the first season, including the season finale.
Kurtman taking the helm
After production woes overshadowed much of the show’s early days, some fans were hopeful that a fresh start with a committed leadership team in season two would give Discovery a clean slate. It remains to be seen how this news will affect the second season’s storyline. CBS are said to be pleased with what they have seen so far, and Discovery is currently in production on the fifth episode of the second season.
Co-creator and executive producer Alex Kurtzman, who directed the first episode of the second season, will take over as sole showrunner of Discovery starting with episode six, which comes after an already planned production hiatus. Deadline reports, it is possible for another showrunner to be recruited down the road to help.
Season two coming in 2019
The second season of Discovery began production in April and will consist of thirteen episodes. It will pick up right after the end of season one, which featured the introduction of the USS Enterprise. Anson Mount has been cast to take on the role of Captain Pike, commander of the USS Enterprise and comedian Tig Notaro has also joined, playing Denise Reno, chief engineer of the USS Hiawatha.
A premiere date for season two has not been officially set, but the statement from CBS notes it will be in 2019.
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.