Interview: Alex Kurtzman And Heather Kadin Talk Picard, Georgiou, And How They’d Handle Star Trek Movies

Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin at the Star Trek Discovery Season 2 premiere

To celebrate the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery season two, the show’s producers and stars talked to us from the red carpet at Conrad New York. We’ll be bringing you more of those interviews throughout the week.

Executive Producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin spoke to us about some of the upcoming new shows in the Star Trek franchise, and speculated on the possible future of the movies as well.

You’ve said that you want each Star Trek show to be unique. But is there going to be any sort of common theme or anything that unites them all or is similar in all of them?

Kurtzman: Great storytelling is my hope, that the standard is great storytelling … that when you look at these shows, you know that that’s what you can expect. But if you’re asking me what is the Trek theme: optimism and hope. Above all. I think that was the core of Roddenberry’s vision and something that we all strive for. It doesn’t mean you can’t go into darker places. But it does mean that at the end of the day, that is the ideal that has to be held on to, and restored, and all of our shows are dealing with that in one way or another.

So when it comes to the Section 31 show, which is the darker place, is that going to be a limited series or ongoing?

Kurtzman and Kadin:  It’ll be an ongoing series.

Kadin: And really, I think that we’ve all loved about Michelle Yeoh in this role, is, it’s not dark at all, and there’s something so delicious about it, and delicious about her relishing being in that part. So, our plan, it shouldn’t be dark at all, I think that we’re going to have a lot of fun with it.

Michelle Yeoh as Emperor Georgiou in Star Trek: Discovery

Michelle Yeoh’s Emperor Georgiou is getting her own “delicious” Section 31 series

With J.J. Abrams’ contract with Paramount ending and a possible CBS-Paramount merger, would you be interested in going back and “owning” the movie franchise as well?

Kurtzman: We haven’t had any conversations about that. I loved making those films. I loved it, and I think Star Trek is still so relevant, I think, in all platforms. So the movies brought a new vitality to the franchise in 2009, and the movie that Justin did was so great, Beyond was so great. I’d be really curious to see what the new version of a Star Trek movie would be, because I think it has to be something different now. I think that the movies we made were perfect for the time that we made them in. And now, things have changed, the world has changed, ideals have changed, and so the question would be, ‘How do you make it worth going to the movies for?’ Because the truth is, that you can get a pretty cinematic experience by watching Star Trek: Discovery, and you’re going to be able to get the same thing watching anything else. What might help is that when people see it on the big screen tonight, they’ll recognize that the line between movies and television’s really over. So I would approach it more from the point of view of what kinds of stories can’t we tell on television that are better for the screen.

Would you want to see the movies and the TV shows sync up?

Kadin: I think the dream is always when you’re working on a franchise to have everything play in the same universe. I mean especially for fans, who’ve been fans forever, of this franchise, I think it would only be a better experience for everybody.

Kurtzman: Obviously they have in the past. So the trick is, how do you not cannibalize each other – and maintain the television version and the movie version and if they do cross over, have that be a special event that feels worth going to the theater for. But look, I think anything’s possible is the short answer to your question.

Jaylah and Scotty in Star Trek Beyond

What will happen to the Trek movies beyond Star Trek Beyond?

Is there going to be a point when some kind of Star Trek series is on the air year-round? That Star Trek will be on all the time?

Kadin: I think the ideal would be yes, but it should never feel like it’s the same Star Trek show all the time. Especially with the announcement of Lower Decks, that Mike McMahan created, and he runs Rick and Morty, and it’s obviously not going to be as nihilistic as Rick and Morty, or as offensive as Rick and Morty, but it’s going to have that essence of why we all love that show. Which is completely different from Discovery. And so I think fans should not feel like, ‘Oh my god, it’s the same thing all the time,’ they should feel like, ‘Oh, now this is a different side of food for my dinner.’ I think it should feel different every time.

Writer/producer Mike McMahan as a janitor on Rick and Morty

Lower Decks’ Mike McMahan, immortalized in the third season finale of Rick and Morty

Can you give us an update on the Picard series?

Kurtzman: It’s going really well. I was just giving notes on a script right before we came here, as a matter of fact. Literally. Walked in and here we are. It’s going really well. We’re really excited. We’re excited to surprise people. Patrick has been an unbelievable partner, just unbelievable, it’s like everything you’d ever want him to be. A lot of people are just giving a lot of thought to ‘What is the state of Picard’s life 20 plus years after Next Gen? What happened to him that’s surprising, what happened to him that tests him in many ways?’ And I think it’s been really joyful. We’ve all thought very deeply and for a long time about how to make it special.

Will Jonathan Frakes be asked to direct any of the episodes?

Kurtzman: I will have Jonathan Frakes come and direct anything. He’s such an incredible–

Kadin: We hope he’ll direct it, yeah.

Kurtzman: He’s phenomenal.

Kadin:  We love him.

The much-loved Jonathan Frakes directing Sonequa Martin-Green and Mary Wiseman in Star Trek: Discovery

Georgiou will appear in Star Trek: Discovery season three, Picard show hopefully coming this year

Kadin and Kurtzman then moved on to the next interviewer, but we heard them say that while there’s no timeline yet for the new Section 31 series, there are already plans for Georgiou to appear in season three of Discovery, which has yet to be officially announced. As for the other shows, Kurtzman was able to be a little more specific about at least the Picard series.

Kurtzman: We’re going to be seeing the Picard show first. And our hope is that we do it at the end of the year. It’s possible that, given production scheduling things, it might be the very beginning of next. But it’ll be within a very close window of that.

More from the season 2 premiere

There is more to come from our red carpet coverage of the season 2 premiere in NYC.

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. The second season debuted on All Access and Space on Thursday, January 17th, 2019, and on Netflix January 18, 2019.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery and upcoming Star Trek TV projects news at TrekMovie.

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Ahhh- Patrick Stewart turns 79 in July. If you hope to crank out 2 or 3 seasons, you need to get on this and not wait until he is almost 80 to get the first season going. He’s no William Methuselah Shatner

I don’t know about that, regarding his timelessness. I would argue he’s just as active as Shatner was 10 years ago, if not moreso. But asking an 80yr old to front a series is always fraught with this kind of risk.

80 is the new 60. (Don’t believe in retirement.)

Depends on lifestyle. Some people are half dead and ready to do nothing come 65

“William Methuselah Shatner” Hee, hee. I’m pretty sure Shatner refuses to die so he will be with us until he’s ready to move on.

Wow. She said Space Hitler is “delicious”. And “not dark at all”. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the new lightness!

Yeah, that pretty much confirms what you and I discussed a couple days back about it being a superficial or lightweight treatment hung with the s31 mantle. This is going to be J.R. EWING IN SPACE. Next step will probably be the HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS ON GILLIGAN’S ISLAND phase, with Patrick Ewing in space, he said, sarcasm dripping, as the walls fell.

But you know what is the problem with this new “à la carte” approach for Star Trek shows that are not meant for every fan? We may choose not to watch Section 31 but we cannot ignore its implications. Canon is not à la carte.

@kmart – You deserve an award for that comment! You managed so many pop-culture references in such a tidy Darmok-ish package…and now I’m having flashbacks to HG on Gilligan’s Island–wow, that was quite an era of tv, huh? :)

Actually, I never saw GLOBETROTTERS (except when they played the Oakland Raiders in an exhibition Basketball game.) My personal Gilligan canon ends with the RESCUE movie.

I always get these creative bursts when on deadline. Anything to avoid real work.

Love that Kool Aid!

Well, at least HOGAN’S HEROES Hitler gave us Arlene Martel as Tiger. Hope T’Prings eternal when its T’Pring time for space Hitler.

I can’t help but think Lorca would have been a better fit for a Section 31 series. Added bonus: We still don’t know the fate of the real Lorca, now viewed as a mad man since only a handful of people are aware of his Mirror Universe counterpart. How would Evil Lorca and the Federation deal with his return?

Not sure how black hat Lorca would respond but since he died a fiery death I would think the question is moot. And since white hat Lorca would just be the moral opposite of black hat Lorca, I’d just as soon not have anything to do with the character ever.

Do they watch their own shows? DIS season 1 was really not about optimism and hope.

And genocidal, muss murderer and Kelpian eating Georgiou will be the lead character of a not dark show? So they will act like she is a tiny, fluffy bunny? Making light out of all her evil deeds after the motto: “Who cares about genocides? She is cool and therefore our hero!”

Haha, I’m thinking of Georgiou hopping through the forest as a little fluffy bunny to the song “little bunny foo foo”, except little bunny is carrying her sword chasing down the hunters like a prequel Yoda. Seriously though, I just don’t see how she fits in this universe.

“Do they watch their own shows? DIS season 1 was really not about optimism and hope.”

Sure as hell seemed like it to me. It’s not delivered on a silver platter like the TNG era, but it’s definitely there. Issue is it’s spread over the season as a whole, in what characters do and say. We literally have the crew put their lives on the line to help the rebellion because there’s a chance that that rebellion, with it’s strength through unity and understanding, could make the mirror universe better as well. It’s not even their universe and they try to make it better and help it.

What the heck kind of message is that other than a very Trek one?

Ugh, a year later and I’m still annoyed that Yeoh came back and Lorca didn’t

@Tay Dervis — Lorca’s not dead yet, either of them.

@Curious Cadet Agreed. Both versions of the character are very easy to bring back with PU Lorca only technically being MIA and his evil counterpart likely trapped in the mycelial network.

That would be worse than what they did already.

The real question about Johnathan Frakes is that is he going to ACT in the new Picard show. ;)

We already know he’s going to direct it, that’s pretty much a given at this point. I wouldn’t be shocked he directs the pilot to get the fans salivating more. But we still want to see Number One show up as well if possible.

It would be strange to have him direct the Picard show and not even make a cameo appearance. I mean he’s there, they have already paid him. Unless there’s an in-story reason not to show him, of course.

“I mean he’s there, they have already paid him.” Huh? They’d have to pay him separately for his acting. His directing paycheck doesn’t cover extra jobs. That’s not how it works.

At least they wouldn’t need to clear his schedule all that much if he’s already on set.

“Star Trek Beyond” was a really fine film. I might say the finest of the three Kelvin Universe movies. Every time I see it, I appreciate it more. If Paramount finally makes up its mind to make a fourth, I wish they’d go to Simon and Doug first for a new story idea.

Agreed, Beyond is the best one.

Alex Kurtzman is pure evil. He hates old Star Trek and wants to destroy it with discovery.

Exactly. Just like he ruined The Mummy and the planned Universal horror franchise.

What gets me is people here having a go at Midnight’s Edge when Kurtzman proves them right time and time again. Ahahaha!