Interview: Jonathan Frakes Wishes ‘Star Trek: TNG’ Had Continued And Wants To Work With Tarantino

Our extensive exclusive interview with Jonathan Frakes continues with this third and final part,  a discussion of his time on Star Trek: The Next Generation and his views on the state of the film franchise.

Wanting more of TNG

Earlier you talked about trying to recapture The Original Series dynamic. Did you ever feel on The Next Generation they never allowed that kind of dramatic conflict, notably with Riker and Picard or with other characters?

That was a huge ongoing issue. That was Gene [Roddenberry]’s direction. One of the things that makes drama is conflict and he was adamant about not having conflict inside the family. And I’m wondering if we didn’t miss opportunities as a result. That was an ongoing struggle with all of us as actors, and I think for the writers as well. It is hard to have everyone get along all the time and make it interesting.

You obviously ask that question feeling a certain way about it, is that right?

Yeah. For once I just wanted Riker to turn to Picard or at least got to his ready room and have it out with him and disagree. Isn’t that one of the things a first officer is supposed to do? Bring different perspectives? I feel it would have added more depth to the characters and have been an opportunity for you and Patrick and other actors. I have always felt it was something missing from the show.

It was missing from the show, but I just had an example pop into my brain of how successful it was when there was conflict on Star Trek: First Contact when Alfre Woodard are in the observation lounge and she was busting his balls about his little ships. Remember that?

Yeah, that was great, but as soon as he made his decision Beverly says “ok, we are all going to die, that’s what the captain says.”

Yeah [laughs]. I wasn’t talking about THAT scene, I was talking about the scene before. It makes for better drama. But, yeah, it turns on a dime, as soon as he walks back on the f—king bridge everything changed.

As if Gene Roddenberry’s ghost showed up and said, “Everyone get along!”

Yeah. “Enough already! What are you people doing!”

Do you feel after the seven seasons of Next Generation and four movies, that for either you as a character or the show left anything on the table?

Oh, huh oh! Marina [Siritis] and I have said – with no irony at all – we would still be doing the show if we had been asked. I believe the show ended as a television series so that Paramount could continue the movie franchise. I am not convinced [the series finale] “All Good Things…” is the end of stories we could have told with that family on the Enterprise. I am not sure it had the 21 seasons of [Law and Order:SVU in it, but certainly it had more to come.

Jonathan Frakes directing Patrick Stewart in the TNG episode “Drumhead” in 1991

Is the future of cinematic Trek actually TV?

With things stalled on the movie side of Star Trek, if we assume that Star Trek 4 is not going to go forward, what would you do with the film franchise if you were in charge at Paramount?

Any light in the wonderfully absurd Tarantino rumor?

Didn’t you talk to J.J. about the Tarantino project?

Well I texted with him about it and he said that it was – what was the word? – ‘exciting’ or ‘dangerous.’ There is something about it that he was encouraged by. I think the fact that people are scared that it may be R-rated, makes it even more exciting.

Did he indicate that you would be involved?

No, not at all…

For purposes of this discussion, let’s say that it’s over for Tarantino project as well.

It is hard to say.  I am a huge fan of not only Chris Pine, but Karl Urban as Bones, I thought he was magical in that franchise. I was among the members of the Next Generation cast that liked J.J.’s Star Trek, and have embraced his shooting style on Discovery. I am a big J.J. fan. I think he is a great storyteller… Selfishly I guess we are all a little old for a Next Gen movie. I was very, very excited about the possibility of working with Quentin Tarantino.

I’m also not sure that Star Trek isn’t better off – in this high-end television world we are in now – that great 50-year tradition of this show which are these cautionary morality plays. The episodic style has been so good for the franchise. I can’t believe we are at the end of the second season of Discovery as a fan. And I am sure some of this has to do with the fact that I have been movie jail – I did three successful movies and one massively unsuccessful movie and have been in movie jail ever since. I am very grateful to be working on television. I also think that television is the medium now for new ideas.

Frakes directs Patrick Stewart on the set of First Contact

More from Number One

In case you missed it, check out the first part of our Frakes interview discussing The Orville, and the second part covering his work on Star Trek: Discovery and the upcoming Picard series.

Jonathan Frakes’ director chair from the set of Star Trek: Discovery

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Brian

Blame Stuart Baird. It was his Awful failure of a movie. It was his complete lack of knowledge about Star Trek that ended everything for TNG.

kmart

Baird was a disaster, but Logan’s work is to blame more, because NEM was dead out of the greenlight gate with that terrible script.

Baird could have made it a semi-watchable loser instead of living down to the writing, but he is zero for three in directing high profile studio features that have the benefit of Jerry Goldsmith scores, and I don’t think anybody else has had that kind of opportunity and support and still managed to fail in so epic a fashion.

unhappening

i totally disagree… i knew and worked with some of the trek people back then and the logan script was pretty fantastic… i think i even still have it somewhere…
it reads great and is tons better than the film… everyone was very excited when they read it thinking this one was gonna be better… baird just is not a film director… example… in the original script the scene where the Romulan senate is destroyued is amazing and tense… in it’s description it makes out the small device that is placed on the table is tiny… no one notices… the room is vast and historic going back thousands of years (or centuries i forget).. but in the film the scene is boring… it’s a small room with a few dozen people and when the device is placed on the table it’s this large item that everyone can see and the entire scene is destroyed the way baird directs it… there’s lots more with the female romulan… and the clones life… the opening of the script was very detailed… it’s all lost with baird… budget also had a play in it as it was pretty small after salaries…

ML31

I am forced to agree that I was a little underwhemled with the Romulan Senate set. Sure, it looked nice but I expected something grander. I had wished the scene played out a little longer but we had to get moving with the story. And there were too many really great elements in that film for just a few production errors to ruin.

SDK

I wish they had just made it about the Romulans instead of making up a enemy no one had any emotional connection to.

DataMat

Yeah the Senate room should have been gigantic.
CGI could have been used for this, but its expensive to do, especially so in 2001 when CGI was still early and experimental.
Big problem for me is that Nemesis is a static movie that doesn’t really go anywhere. We basically spend the film on the two ships Enterprise and. Shimitar.
People roast Insurrection a lot, but I’d argue it’s a more ambitious film that was also strangled by budget at times; why does the villain have a sofa on his Bridge?!?

ML31

See, I think it moved quite well. Things progressed logically at a decent pace. No it’s not perfect. There are a couple of warts. But WoK has a couple of warts as well. They are not strong enough to ruin what is good about it. Perhaps people just didn’t pick up on the similarity of Picard and his clone and Data and his. There was a point being made there and it worked. They didn’t hit you over the head with it, either. Which was a credit to the director. I guess his mistake for some was that it was too subtle? I don’t know. But I think it a pretty good feature and was a really great send off for TNG.

Insurrection on the other had, first of all, it’s amazingly dull. The pacing is choppy. And the story has the feel of a mediocre TV episode. Add to that it felt very un-Trek like to have Picard just leave Ru-afu to die a fiery death. They easily could have transported both to the ship. What could he do? His array blew up.

Tiger2

Sadly I too agree the direction was definitely the biggest issue with the movie. The script wasn’t that bad, its just they cut out a lot of the stuff that could’ve made feel like a more well rounded movie. They cut out a lot of the quieter parts for more action stuff. And yes, the dune buggy scene.

Nemesis is still my worse Star Trek movie to this day. I don’t hate it and in fact grew on me in repeated viewings, but its still a bad movie as a whole.

ML31

From what I have seen of the deleted scenes none of them really added anything to the film. I will agree that the entire shootout and Argo chase on the planet felt tagged on and completely out of place. And the director even all but admitted it as such in the commentary. But again, there was too much good stuff in that film for a few errors to ruin.

kmart

I don’t think you could find a Logan script that he wrote himself that I’d find satisfactory, except maybe RKO 281, which is quite literally a cut n paste from existing material, and RANGO, which is a pastiche. He only did the baddie’s dialog in GLADIATOR, and his last contribution to AVIATOR was to a draft that predated the film by like 7 years. Then again, BATS and NEMESIS are ones he wrote without help — and it shows.
The guy doesn’t even pay off stuff he has set up — that bit where Picard tells Data to shut up at the beginning could have been echoed (by Data) as Picard silently protests at the end before being beamed away … just put something in to give the thing some resonance.

SDK

The concept was crappy. It was too much a personal story about Picard with an enemy no one in the audience cared about. I certainly wasn’t interested in a clone story of Picard, or the Remans. Seems like most others weren’t either. I work in Hollywood too, so I know how these things go. A ton of scripts are deemed as “awesome” and end up getting made. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve read and would have passed on, but the producers get all excited and think it’s the next blockbuster. Hollywood produces a lot of crap.

Alec Grimes

Completely agree. The opening of Nemesis was spectacular with the exterior shot and then we get…a small room with a dozen senators ? WTF ?!

Scott Gammans

Agreed on all counts, but I’ll throw in Sir Patrick—much as I love the man—for that ridiculous dune buggy scene. He has said in interviews that he took advantage of his exec producer status to get that sequence shoehorned into the movie, so he has to own it.

To this day I still remember sitting in the theater with my best friends (who I had met 11 years earlier at the Star Trek VI premiere) watching Nemesis and becoming more and more uncomfortable. When Picard burst out of the shuttle in that ludicrous contraption, I turned to them and said “Yep, that’s the movie right there!”

Michael Hall

Stewart’s inputs weren’t so helpful on INSURRECTION, either. He’s a sensational actor, but his tastes and preferences aren’t infallible.

kmart

I still think that if they painted out the tires, the dune buggy scene wouldn’t have been quite as awful. Still doesn’t excuse the PD aspect, which I found pretty offensive (actually rewatched it last month, start to finish. Didn’t do anything to improve my opinion of it.) It always reminds me of when I first saw it, how I kept thinking ‘THIS would improve things’ or ‘why didn’t they think to … ?’

Martin

This is what has me concerned about the Picard series. Shatner had his rock climbing, and Stewart had his truck. They can’t help themselves, and now Stewart has creative say over the whole show.

Alec Grimes

Yeah….that was awful. With teleporters and such why the hell would you need a dune buggy?

ML31

No one is to blame. Sometimes good movies just don’t do well for a myriad of reasons. Just look at Nemesis and Beyond. At least both ended on good notes.

Nemesis neither ended, begun, nor middled on a good note. That’s a terrible movie.

ML31

Fine you didn’t like. I honestly have no idea where the hate for Nemesis comes from except jealousy that the TOS features ended on a grander note than the TNG features did. The film was just as good as First Contact. Period.

Afterburn

You’re joking right? It is awfully written, directed, and edited, and the actors look like they are just going through the motions. It’s a disaster of a film on almost every conceivable level, even FX and costuming.

Even Insurrection, as bland, and badly written, still captured some of the spirit of the show, and a few charming performances.

ML31

It’s no joke. It’s a really good Trek film to watch and touches on some nice subject matter of nature vs nurture. Spiner turns in his best acting ever in the show with his touching child like portrayal of B4. The film was well written. It captured all the major characters correctly. They all felt like they knew this was the last film and gave it their all. The direction was good as it was a good choice to inject new blood with a non-Trek director. It was edited quite well and that third act was a blast to watch. I still think there is some annoyance among TNG fans that their guys didn’t get the great “signing off” moment. I just don’t see any other reason for the hate. Insurrection was just a medicore TV episode more than anything else. It was the film with the bad wirting, editing and directing. And it was the one where the actors felt like just mailing it in. It was bad on every level. Even as bad as TFF at least it had some good character moments.

Beckerjr

Nemesis is a lame attempt to do TNG’s version of “Wrath of Khan”. Shinzon is a pale imitation of Khan as an antagonist and Data’s sacrifice tries to parallel Spock’s…it doesn’t. TNG was just worn out and tired by then.

Alec Grimes

Very true. Data’s scrafice got no emotion out of me…nor anyone in my theather. Not to mention…his memory Ingram over wrote B4. What a cop out !

Tiger2

ML31, I know you like the film but your opinion is definitely in the minority on this. I even showed you the audience rating for it on RT a few months ago. It was at 37% who liked it. Again you can certainly like it and think its as good as FC, but it has nothing to do with ‘jealousy’ for the people who don’t. Most of us just think it was a bad film.

Even the cast of the film thinks its bad lol. That tells you everything! When the people who made the movie can’t say anything good about it tells you its not some minority vocal viewpoint on this. It had a lot of problems unfortunately.

ML31

I realize I’m in the minority. And it continues to boggle my mind. I have no idea what is so wrong with Nemesis. Conversely, I have no idea what people like about Voyage Home so much. I find it to be the absolute worst of every Trek movie made. And it’s not even close. You see, I can’t help but think there is some jealousy involved among TNG fans because there is no way the film is as bad as some are saying. No way. The comments from the cast mostly are trying to excuse the bad box office. Which was not a result of it being bad. It was more a result of the time. I do believe franchise fatigue was a real thing for Trek. It affected Nemesis as well as Enterprise.

Alec Grimes

Now you are nuts ! The Voyage Home is one of the best of classics of the OG films. And was the highest grossing Trek film before first contact came along.

The River Temarc

I don’t *quite* get the hatred for Nemesis, either. It’s certainly not the strongest entry in the series, and I wish some of the editing had been better — cutting out the early Picard-Data scene, for instance — but it played well with themes of fate and free will, particularly during the ready room scene when Picard argues with the Shinzon hologram. I thought Hardy’s performance as the young Picard clone conveyed the right mix of vulnerability, arrogance, and rage. The B4 scenes worked out less well.

I wonder if some of the dislike is really dislike of Insurrection, which I think is easily the worst Star Trek film and indeed one of the worst films I have ever seen, rubbing off onto the TNG film franchise generally.

TG47

ML31, Nemesis was so out of keeping with TNG.

I can see the studio wanting a fresh take to enlarge the audience, but I spent most of the movie trying to figure out what the ‘real script outline’ might have looked like.

And it’s the only one other than The Final Frontier that I haven’t been able to make myself see more than once.

Yes, there might have been good plot ideas in there somewhere, but it was clear that the director had no clue.

ML31

Some have claimed it to be out of sync with TNG but I cannot see how. It is a good sci-fi Trek adventure and uses the characters correctly. Data’s journey had to end. And he did so heroically. It had touching character moments and a great 3rd act. I was never wondering what another version of the script might be like because I was so engaged in the story going on on screen.

I have to force myself to look at The Voyage Home once every 10 years just to see if a new perspective might cause me to see it in a different way. Nothing has changed. It is just as bad the last time I saw it (about 4 years ago) as it was when I was cringing at nearly EVERYTHING watching it in the theater for the first time in 1986. The Final Frontier was only mildly better.

The River Temarc

Some have claimed it to be out of sync with TNG but I cannot see how.

Agreed. There’s the ready room scene I mentioned above, where Picard tries to convince Shinzon to rise above the reasons for his creation (and Shinzon’s rebuttal about “the triumph of the echo over the voice,” which I loved). There’s the newfound cooperation between the Federation and the Romulans (even Worf admitted that “the Romulans fought with honor”). There’s the melancholy about the crew going their separate ways, with a note of hope that all of Data may not be lost. All very TNG-like, if you ask me.

SDK

1. They chose a villain that the audience had no connection to. No one had ever heard of the Remans, and I was disappointed they didn’t just stick with the Romulans. We understand the Romulans.
2. The Picard clone story was great for fans of Picard, but left out the entire rest of the crew. Shinzon didn’t even look like Picard. I seriously had to suspend my disbelief, and was not successful. To me, the clone story was ridiculous and boring.
3. The acting of the TNG crew was a little sleepy. The exception was probably the wedding (the only scene I liked). I thought Picard was going to fall asleep in some of the scenes.
4. Data didn’t have to die. I don’t know a single TNG fan who would actually want that. Of all the characters, we’d expect Data to outlive all of them. Why the crap is it necessary to kill off the most popular character? It sucked, and I left the theater feeling like I’d attended a funeral. Not exactly the emotion you want to leave the audience with.
5. B4 was a stupid cop-out for killing Data. We’re left with a stupid robot who has the potential of turning into Data again. Well, why not just let Data live and do away with B4 altogether at that point?
6. By the end of the film, Worf’s gone, Riker’s gone, Troi’s gone, Data’s gone, and Beverly was supposed to be gone but they cut out her scene from Starfleet Medical. That leaves Picard and Geordi. Yeah, just what I paid to see – my beloved crew all broken up. I’m fine with Riker and Troi leaving because that was way overdue. But it’s still a crappy way to send off your TNG family. By the end, I had no TNG family anymore.
7. The pacing was slow and boring. I think there were half a dozen scenes of just Picard and Shinzon yacking away about the Remans – who no one cared about.
8. Troi gets raped AGAIN. And then Picard asks her to endure more attacks…WTF? I can’t imagine the Picard of the TV series ever asking that of a crew member. And then her husband, Riker, just stands there and doesn’t even stick up for his wife. Sorry, but that’s bad writing and very uncharacteristic of these characters.

Hope that sheds some light on why most people don’t like the movie.

Alec Grimes

What does jealousy have to do with a movie being bad ? I am a 40 year star trek fan…and they have been many good and many bad episodes and a few bad films. Nemesis dropped the ball. Insurrection dropped the ball and Generations dropped the ball after the awesome opening sequence with Kirk.
First Contact was the best out of the 4

Soren

The concept was salvageable. Baird just stank as a director.

Wheelie

I think Nemesis could’ve been a good movie had Shinzon not been such a muddled character. Good antagonists need focused motivations, like a laser beam through the story, and the movie failed to give us that.

kmart

That costume made him seem like mini-me version of hellraiser, made Hardy seem very slight and unimposing.

Alec Grimes

Nothing menacing about shinzon. He looked like he needed his but whupped.

alphantrion

I think they should have just used the original concept of having Patrick Stewart play both of the roles. It would have been emotional for both him and the audience. Kind of looking at the mirror and seeing a complete opposite. As it stands Tom Hardy gets me out of this movie. He is a good actor, but he is not a clone of Picard.

Martin

Well if they kept B-4 in, having Stewart play two roles and Spiner the same, would have been stupid.

Of course B-4 was completely stupid. You’re going into Romulan space, and you find an early Soong android, so by all means let’s turn that baby on….what can go wrong? Dumbest thing since Data and Geordi stick in an emotion chip and then put Data on an away mission immediately.

Ditch B-4 (which also ditches the dune buggy), have Stewart play Shinzon as well, Frakes be director, and you could have had a movie nearly as good as first contact.

Alec Grimes

whipped.. And how many Datas are scattered throughout the galaxy. The script was lame.

SDK

WTF “good note” did Nemesis end on? I think the fact it ended like a funeral is a primary reason it didn’t do well.

Soren

Blame Berman. He greenlighted Baird. Piller was the true soul of Trek. This decision proved it beyond doubt.

kmart

I think Paramount inflicted Baird on Berman, as payback for saving TOMB RAIDER.

Cygnus-X1

The blame for the TNG movies — all* of which are sub-par — ultimately lies with Paramount. The studio contracted all of the personnel to make those movies, which includes leaving Rick Berman in charge as producer, greenlighting half-baked scripts, and so forth. The TOS movies had the benefit of Leonard Nimoy’s discerning mind and creative input. Perhaps there was also a difference in personnel at the studio that led them to make the right decisions with TWOK. But, for whatever reasons, as good as Piller and Moore were at writing for TNG on TV, they were apparently out of their element when it came to the movies. And there’s no disputing that Paramount has serious deficits in creative judgment with regard to the Bad Robot Trek movies. Whether you enjoyed STID (and to a lesser degree, ST09) or not, there’s no disputing that it’s a weak story on paper. That a studio would greenlight that script suggests serious in-house personnel issues. *One can enjoy movies that are badly written, make no sense, and are ultimately meaningless as stories. When it comes to Star Trek, though, I prefer well-written, logically cohesive, meaningful stories, and none of the TNG nor the BR movies meet that standard. They simply don’t, and it can be shown that they don’t by contrasting their story elements with those of movies that do meet that standard (like TWOK).

SDK

I don’t see how the hell you think First Contact was subpar. It’s widely considered to be in the top 3 Trek movies. It was a huge hit in 1996, and I don’t think you get a better villain than the Borg. Definitely a fan favorite.

Alec Grimes

Preach ! Tell them !

SDK

Nemesis just pissed me off. Instead of leaving the theater glad to have had one last adventure with the crew, I left feeling like I’d just attended a funeral. First of all, no one gave a crap about a clone of Picard that actually looked nothing like him. No one gave a crap about the Remans. They could have a t least made the Romulans the main villains. Instead we get a villain no one had ever heard of before. The pacing of the movie is boring – I think Patrick was falling asleep through half of it. Troi gets raped AGAIN, and would have a third time if they hadn’t cut one of her scenes. Data, perhaps the most popular TNG character, freaking dies for no good reason and everyone’s crying about it at the end. The crew breaks up and half of them are gone at the end…it wasn’t a great time. Add to that the stilted writing of Logan and the crappy direction of Baird and you have a real winner. Just about the worst send off of the TNG crew you can have. That’s why it did so poorly. People who like Nemesis are in the minority. The only silver lining in it for me was the wedding of Riker/Troi, which should have happened in season 7 of TNG in MHO.

alastair87

There was also the very direct confrontation between Worf and Picard just before that scene, when destroying the Enterprise is mooted and Picard dismisses it. “If you were any other man I would kill you where you stand . . .”

I think that might be the most vicious confrontation between any two of the hero characters on Star Trek excluding mind control, mirror universe doppelgangers etc.

PaUl

TNG @ the movies are over but no reason not to bring Riker & a few old TNG crew members back to a streaming TV format for a few episodes (if its a success obviously they can make many more!). In this day & age they should just make it so rather than waste resource on the section 31 series as TNG still has a prebuilt audience if need be just make the TNG TV series regardless of Section 31 status.

nasty man

the Tarantino movie will happen but he probably wont direct. Abrams will probably come back to direct Trek 4 based on QTs story in a couple of years (like summer 2022) with the same cast. he wont be able to resist directing QTs story

You might want to re-read the story. There’s no Trek 4, or Tarantino Trek on anyones’s radar as pending productions. Further, there’s no financing, and no cast, as they have all moved on to other projects. Paramount just can’t raise, let alone sink a mountain of money into what is likely to be a break even project, best case scenario.

nasty man

after this year theres no more StarWars movies (at least for a few years). there will never be a better time for Movie Trek to come back and be the only space action series around like it was from 09-13. Tarantino will probably give an update on his Trek at Cannes with his Once Upon A Time movie

Marvel (and to a lesser extent, DC) will continue to suck all the oxygen out of the sci-fi/fantasy genre into the foreseeable future. QT has declined to elaborate on his Trek proposal because it’s not in his hands at the moment. It’s all Paramount at this point, and they don’t seem interested.

nasty man

while that is true about MCU sucking the hell out of all movies the past few years, I think after this Endgame movie concludes the 10 years of the MCU that they and other studios will be less obsessed with ‘cinematic universes’ and the movie landscape will return somewhat to standalone sequels that work as individual movies (DC are already doing this after they messed up their cinematic universe and others have tried and failed like The Mummy, even SW was sort trying it b4 Solo bombed and scared the hell out of them enough to cancel all the spinoff films and further trilogies.. also Xmen is having its ‘EndGame’ this year with Dark Phoenix so after that there wont be any more XM until they get rebooted into MCU in a few years time)..so that should help Trek in that there should be a return to basic sequels like Trek does (and M:I, Terminator etc) ..not all the crazy interconnected stuff that makes other studios feel the need to have their own MCU and why bother with just a basic sequel.

The MCU has used basically one script now, with a change of costume and sidekicks to keep it fresh. Endgame opens at the end of the month, despite everyone knowing that the temporarily dead are all coming back because all those characters are knee deep into their sequels….and despite that, it’ll do a freakin billion dollars it’s first weekend. MCU and DC will chug along for quite a while, as the audience seems willing to pony up for the experience. Trek needs to find it’s way as modestly priced, compelling stories absent the pressure of being a tentpole for a failing studio. Trek can’t compete with DC, let alone MCU in quantity or quality, if Paramount treats it more like a Bond movie and less like Star Wars light, the feature films have a bright future. If not, we get streaming TV, which isn’t a horrible alternative.

ML31

I agree about the MCU. Those films have been largely paint by number mediocre to sub par efforts lately yet they continue to drum up billion dollar box office. I can’t help but wonder how long that is going to continue.

Alec Grimes

MCU didn’t suck anything. People go to movies….support what is good. No one forces anyone to watch anything don’t want. Marvel has been successful because they have given fans what they want.
If CBS and paramount took into account what Trek fans have been wanting to see for years past…things would be different.

There is literally nobody in the entire world who would go to see a Star Trek movie simply because no Star Wars movie had come out that year.

nasty man

TMP and ST09 says hi

Not one ticket sold to either because of a lack of Star Wars. Zero. Seriously; I asked everyone, and it’s verified.

nasty man

in 1984-97 and 2009-13 Trek did pretty good without SW around. I say up to 97 and 13 as when the new SWs were announced around then everyone was like ‘f**k Trek gimme Wars!’

DataMat

I highly doubt JJ Abrams would return to Trek. Star Wars was always his thing and now he’s involved in a lot of the going on at Disney I think his Trek is done.

Tiger2

I don’t see why he would return either? People seem to forget a lot of this is about $$$$ at the end of the day. When he directed the first Kelvin movie, that literally was just the second feature film he had directed. His asking fee was waaaaay lower than it is today. When STID came out he surely got a raise but TFA changed the game and the guy makes TONS of money making Star Wars than Star Trek. I don’t know how much of this is true but I read he got $30 million total for directing TFA when you include all the back end deal stuff. I imagine Episode 9 is even sweeter for him. Its hard to make that kind of money and then probably go back to Star Trek where he will get a fraction of that.

And I doubt Paramount is going to want to pay his fee for a fourth Trek film after how badly Beyond did. Did people forget WHY Pine and Hemsworth turned down the movie in the first place? Because Paramount didn’t want to pay them the money they wanted. If they can’t pay the stars of the movie the money they want, they are going to have a harder time paying Abrams considering he’s probably one of the costliest directors on the market right now all thanks to two Star Wars films, but that’s all it takes. Pine and Hemsworth seems to be box office poison outside of comic book movies but can now demand higher fees anyway. Hollywood is a weird place.

nasty man

ok but since JJ created the kelvinverse he might want to do it? he might want to bring it back – especially if Tarantino is involved (which should make a big budget worthwhile for Paramount). basically it all rests on Tarantino.. if his idea/story is so cool itd be a sin not to do it then it will happen either with him directing (or more likely someone like JJ directing).

I imagine Tarantinos crazy idea (like he talked about in that nerd interview he did where he said hed do Yesterdays Enterprise meets City of The Edge) to be something like the JJ crew encountering their older maroon wearing counterparts on the Ent-A from like the end of Trek VI with CG deaged Shatner and all the timeline disruption that would come with that.. with various QT actors like SLJ, KurtRussel, Roth, Waltz as Klingons, Starfleet admirals/space crazy Captains, nutjob aliens etc

Tiger2

I mean maybe, but he will probably be producing the next films (if they are Kelvin based) regardless and that’s probably fine with him. And I’m not convinced the Tarantino movie will ever happen, but we’ll see.

Martin

I never understood why they thought they could get Hemsworth. And a Kirk meets Kirk is unnecessary to… he dealt with that. They thought they could get Hemsworth at the same time they were doing the worst job of promotion and timing of a Trek film ever. Beyond was way better than Into Darkness and should have made as much if not more.

As for JJ, it’s amazing that was only his second movie.. and for that matter that MI3 was his first. Talk about hitting it out of the park…. even if Trek 09 wasn’t people’s taste in Trek, it was a well directed movie and brought in the most people to a Trek movie ever.

But it comes down to Paramount can’t afford another Trek period. And if CBS re acquires Paramount, CBS wouldn’t want Kelvin Trek either. And Bad Robot likely has no deal with Paramount now either for Trek. If the acquisition/merger happens, Secret Hideout would likely be the production company for any movie.

Tiger2

Well they DID get Hemsworth! Hemsworth himself said he was planning to be in the next movie. He seemed excited about doing it again. But my guess once Beyond bombed, everything changed and that included whatever they originally promised to pay him. The next movie was now a risk and my OTHER guess is (and this is definitely just a guess) Paramount probably realized there was no guarantee Hemswroth being in the film was going to make it a big hit since he has never been in a big hit outside of the Marvel movies, so why pay him that much?

Chancellor Gowron

I’m glad they didn’t disagree too often. Part of the reason that that First Contact scene was so amazing was that these characters almost never argue. Plus, it got pretty grating on Voyager when Janeway and Chakotay got into a major argument once a season.

Tiger2

Although I think the no conflict rule was stupid as a rule and shackled writers, I also think people make too big of a deal out of it. TOS didn’t have any big conflicts either. There would be a small debate between Spock and Kirk and two minutes later they moved on. People rarely questioned Kirk’s orders or got into big shouting matches over something. It may happen in an occasional episode but the crew got along very well and most just followed whatever Kirk wanted.

DS9 was the first time we saw REAL conflict on a Trek show. And I don’t mean just disagreeing with each other or different views of a social issue, but watching characters who inherently hated each other and in constant turmoil over it because of the show’s premise of basically overcoming a holocaust that pitted people against each other. Kira was a former terrorist killing Cardassians who now had to work with Gul Dukat who was directly involved in oppressing her people for decades. That’s conflict! The stuff in TOS and TNG had some tense moments here and there but end of the day they were all Starfleet officers who basically had the same goals and outlook of Federation values. They may disagree with how a mission goes or something but everyone got along fine most of the time regardless. There was no one there to challenge their outlook the way Kira, Odo, Kai Winn, Garak, Dukat or even Quark did. What was the biggest spat Scotty got into with someone? That he can’t fix the engines faster?

Voyager tried to repeat that in a way with the Maquis but it never really went anywhere because most of those people never questioned Federation values, they simply disagreed with the treaty the Federation made with the Cardassians. Many believed the Federation abandoned them but they weren’t against what the Federation itself stood for. And once you are moved 70 thousand light years to the other side of the galaxy from the homes you were fighting for, that dispute no longer holds much water when you are just trying to get back to that home.

DS9 is probably the only Star Trek show that presented real conflict by questioning Federation values in and of itself. You were never going to get that on the earlier shows.

alphantrion

I think what people are forgetting that Gene Rodenberry got this idea as the biggest form of human development. Perhaps we will never reach a time when we will have a total “no conflict” policy, but he wanted this to be kind of a like the top point of the humanities development cycle. He basically wanted to say this is the ideal we must strive for if we want to live as a whole together.

Martin

A lot of that was Genes ego after being stroked for 15 years. And he hardly even came close to living it himself. People talk about the producer changes in Discovery, but take a look at what was happening under Gene for the first two years of TNG…. it was pretty awful… especially the way that Fontana, Justman, and Gerrold were treated.

Add in that Gene’s idiot lawyer was in the middle making some creative decisions and we are all lucky that Trek TV didn’t end in 1989.

Randall T Sundeen

Yes I agree they all got along too well geordi never got angry riker had no ambition to laren shouldn’t have been killed off there should have been more conflict between cheif O’Brian and geordi they had great actors on tng but never used them too there full potential

Chancellor Gowron

Ro wasn’t killed off. She joined the Maquis. She may have died in the Dominion War, but we can’t be sure.

SDK

Riker had ambition. He was offered his first ship at the age of 28. He got to the flagship and realized that’s where he wanted to be, and that he wasn’t in such a huge hurry to get his own ship. Being first officer of the flagship was about as good as being captain of a lesser-known ship.

Professor Spock

I would love too see TNG again. J. J. did a great job with Star Wars. The Picard show is like a continuation of TNG.

You all have been sandbagging the movie development stories just a touch, now. Asking questions that pretty much acknowledge that Trek 4 and Tarintino Trek are pretty much dead at least gets it out there that Paramount isn’t likely to get a feature film on the big screen anytime soon.

I agree with Frakes, at least for the time being, Trek’s future is on TV. So far, it seems to be a bright one.

TG47

Kurtzman has been posing the question “What stories can Trek cinematic-release movies tell that TV can’t?”

It seems to me to be the right question to ask…

And with the high quality Vfx and 4k television streaming, it’s hard to imagine a 2.5 hour story that can only be made for cinema…

alastair87

Budget and revenue potential. They can raise more money to finance a cinema production, higher bigger names and spend more on greater effects, sets etc (not that this necessarily means a better end product). In turn, if it works, they probably make more but in return for a bigger exposure than on a TV show. It has more to do with the business model than creative opportunities.

It seems though that Paramount have decided that right now they can’t be confident they’ll make enough back for that kind of exposure.

RikersMailbox

Why would he want to work with a guy like Quentin Tarantino, who made Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Django Unchained? Wouldn’t he rather work with Alex Kurtzman, who made The Amazing Spider-man 2, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and thought up the Red Angel suit? The choice is obvious.

Scott Gammans

Toward the end of the series they definitely started relaxing the rules a bit vis-à-vis characters being cross with each other. Riker and Admiral Pressman comes to mind, but for me, one of the highlights of season 7 was Data giving Worf a much-deserved dressing down in the ready room during “Gambit”. Not only had we almost never seen Data approximating anger before, we had NEVER seen one of our heroes so sternly reprimanding another series lead like that.

It was… intoxicating.

Sebi

It was a great scene, which unfortunately was resolved in 2 minutes. They could at least kept the conflict until the end of the episode and resolved it then.

This notion people seem to have that the crewmembers on Starfleet ships should constantly be in disagreement and conflict with one another is really odd to me. If the people writing the shows can’t think of ways around that “restriction,” the shows need better writers. Y’know, writers who want to and are capable of writing STAR TREK, not Galactica or The Expanse. Great shows both, but Star Trek tells different types of stories, and trying to turn Trek into something else simply because the writers aren’t up to snuff is wrong-headed.

Tiger2

Exactly! Yeah I agree for Roddenberry to make it a rule they can NEVER disagree just seems odd in itself but its not exactly like you expected someone try to create a mutiny every other week either. Most people get along in Star Trek because the ENTIRE purpose of it is that humans have now evolved to a point they CAN put aside all their differences to solve all their problems together on Earth and progress as a species. Naturally you are going to assume they will have learned to get along and capable of just being adults, even in tense situations. I get what Roddenberry was going for, but you do need SOME conflict just the same because that’s what makes for interesting TV.

But I never really looked at TOS and thought this was a crew who was constantly on edge and everyone shouting at each other and turned into some ridiculous melodrama. I saw a crew that got along well 95% of the time. The few times you saw some big conflict is when some strange anomaly made them act differently or more aggressive but other than that everyone got along fine. Bones may say something mean or insulting to Spock but that was rarely more than just banter. No one ever thought the two hated each other or really had deep seeded issues towards one another. This wasn’t exactly Dynasty.

The River Temarc

One of the few fundamental changes I would have made to TNG would have been for Troi, in the early seasons, to fundamentally question Data’s humanity. As an empath, Troi of all people would define humanity in terms of experiencing emotions.

The thing is this: yes, Pulaski questioned Data’s humanity and it didn’t work. But that was because she was so gruff and grizzled. So Pulaski confronting Data was reminiscent of “kicking a puppy,” as I once read somwhere. Troi is quite the opposite: her persona is very soothing. Her stance would have come across as authentic and relatable.

Aside from that, though, I tend to agree that this “lack of conflict among the crew” can be overly hyped. I’ve worked in offices where people don’t get along, but I’ve also worked in offices where they very much do care for each other, like the TNG crew did. If you take this theme too far, you end up with unlikable characters such as Landry in very early DISCO (“time to feed the animals”).

VZX

It sucks that Frakes is in movie jail. I’m glad he is working in TV, but I think he should try to direct some smaller maybe indie movie with a great screenplay to work himself out of movie jail. It doesn’t need to be sci-fi or high concept, just a good story. It seems like he is pigeon-holed into directing sci-fi or adventure stuff.

Anyway, I agree that TNG ended too early. There were some lame episodes in the 7th season that kept on dealing with family members of the crew, but they could have done more. I think they needed some fresh writers, though.

tezna

Maybe there is an alternate reality where TNG got 8+ seasons?!

ML31

I actually feel like TNG probably went one season too long. That 7th season had what, ONE memorable episode in it?

DataMat

Sorry but TNG was absolutely done at S7. Changing the writers would have very likely not have worked because the new writers wouldn’t be able to find the characters properly; S8 would have been like S1. Mark II; X Files, for example, should have ended at S7, but went to 9 and that was a disaster.

TNG went to the movies, and some fans (like me) enjoy them for what they are, while nearly everyone at least agrees that First Contact was great. That in my opinion makes it worthwhile that we had TNG movies rather than not have.

VZX

Good point about the movies. I guess I just really love the TNG crew

Professor Spock

TNG can get one more season.

Alec Grimes

Agreed. I think after 1 or 2 seasons new showrunners should be brought in as well as writers. Things start getting stale with the same people .

ST:EXP

I’ve always felt that it’s ok that TNG didn’t have broiling conflict between the main 7 characters. I think that’s held up well. I understand it doesn’t fly in TV these days, but for those 7 seasons… it worked. Here’s the way I always looked at it… when I watched TNG as a kid in the early 90’s… I was watching a crew that was made up of “the best of the best”… the pinnacle of humanity… going out on missions every week and solving problems and the conflict was with the adversarial alien or the conflict was with the “problem to solve”… the conflict WAS NOT with each other.

I think Trek series beyond that can be their own thing and have the interpersonal conflicts… but in TNG it really worked that they didn’t have Riker and Picard bitching at each other every week.

And frankly, I saw all kinds of conflict between the crew sometimes… when Worf wouldn’t give his blood to the Romulan… when Wesley Crusher got dressed down and turned out to be a bit of a disappointment to the crew… having to deal with Data when he went bananas a few times, etc.

Yes? No?

Rhys

Yes I agree. Internal debates without them becoming constantly personal was a strength for the show.

Professor Spock

TNG needs one more season. TNG season 8 should have happened. It was rushed and ended too early.

Sam

No way. Season 7 was the weakest. TNG was over. DS9 had already picked up speed, and if your station played both shows back to back (as FOX61 in Springfield, CT did) the difference was astounding.

Rhys

The idea around restraining the internal conflicts between the central characters was as much a strength for the series as it could be a weakness. Sometimes it’s good to have some boundaries, this can force creative thinking in how to develop am internal struggle without letting it become too personal. If TNG had allowed their characters to be fighting with each other regularly, I think episodes would’ve become too predictable. Those rare personal conflicts that did occur gave those scenes a real depth and edge that made the TNG characters more realistic and fascinating to watch. One example I’d use is the season 5 episode “Ethics”. Here, Riker did have a strong disagreement with Picard in regards to Euthanasia. In fact, there were plenty of inter-personal arguments & debates throughout this episode. One of many reasons why TNG was such a great series.

The River Temarc

Exactly. (And while I enjoyed the guest star in “Ethics,” I often wonder if the episode would have been utterly gripping had they brought back Pulaski for that episode instead.)

Soren

I have always been in complete agreement with Frakes over his take on TNG’s potential longevity. Stewart would of walked for sure if it had continued, but so long as they chose wisely over replacements when cast left, it could have gone on for decades. In real life after all crew come and go on ships all the time.

The River Temarc

Helen Mirren as the new captain in 1994. She would have been a worthy successor to Stewart.

Soren

Absolutely. Any number of august command types could have been cast.

Professor Spock

Yeah it had its highs and lows.

Dr Zaius

Thanks for the interview, I think each part was awesome.

As for Trek movies my idea would be to borrow from Star Wars and do stand alone entries in the style of Rogue One or Solo. Or simply create a new crew in a new ship in a new era, say post TNG. Also, stop trying to make them blockbusters and just make a “normal” movie. Lastly they need to be drama again and not the overdone CGI action movies of the Abramsverse. I liked them (well, two of the three) but I always felt they were over ambitious.

Andy

Ok, guys! I HATED Nemesis, but let’s get down to what the comments here should be about: How good of a director Jonathan Frakes has become, his work on Discovery (and perhaps Picard), and what a blockbuster the Tarentino version of Trek could be (esp. collabotating with Jon)! Who’s first?

Cygnus-X1

I’m getting the overall impression that there are two broad film-making skills that not all directors have both of. Some directors are good at directing self-contained scenes, hitting all of the emotional notes, and moving the story along from the beginning of the scene to the end of that scene. But, once that scene is over, these same directors who were so adept at evoking the humanity out of that scene have little to no idea how to string scenes together in a logical and meaningful way to tell a story that lasts an hour an a half. And, analogously, there are two kinds of viewers: those who can tell that a story doesn’t make sense from start to finish, and those who can’t see past the effectiveness of individual scenes to the logic (or lack thereof) of the whole story. Apparently it’s quite common for both directors and viewers to have a kind of story blindness with respect to the entirety of the plot, while being convinced by the effectiveness of individual scenes that the story makes sense on the whole. Quentin Tarantino is an example of a director who excels both at directing effective scenes and also at telling a good story (and making sense is part of being good, as far as I’m concerned), from start to finish. JJ Abrams is a good example of a director who is good at directing individual scenes and head-scratchingly abysmal at telling a meaningful original story from start to finish. And there’s another Trek director *ahem* who shares JJ’s combination of strength and weakness, making it unsurprising that the former is such a fan of the latter.

Zack

I’m just gonna leave this here, but I want to see a Riker show about his time as captain of the USS Titan as referenced at the end of Nemesis.

Fabio

Holden Caufield and I think that Tarantino is a phony. Frakes is a professional, much better director than that hack that steals whole arguments of Chinese films and makes them go through his own creation.

Mike S.

I think he’s right in that TNG probably could have gone a few more seasons. The thing is, they probably would have needed to work around the ‘no conflict’ rule Roddenberry had laid down, via bringing in a character who wasn’t part of Starfleet. It also probably would have required coordinating with the DS9 writers room with regard to the Dominion and whatnot.

Nostromo

He wishes it’d continued, does he? I was saddened when The Next Generation went out of production. For nearly seven years that Saturday night broadcast was my magnetic north as it straddled two distinct eras in my life. Thinking of it now it seems as only last month when it was in its heyday.

Paul Ortiz

Conflict does make good drama, sure. But then was TNG ever drama? I mean it had elements of it in its storytelling but it was first and foremost a show about exploring new ideas and concepts, or making social commentary on current events using alien cultures. And there was so much to tell in that regard that I never really felt like I was missing conflict between Riker and Picard (or whoever). Discovery, on the other hand, goes too much in the other direction for me. It spends more time focusing on the watery-eyed overacted clashes between cast members and not enough time exploring some of the more interesting concepts.

I know TNG is somewhat unrealistic in how harmonious and “perfect” the crew is, for the most part. But I always just assumed that in order for humanity to do things like…end war, poverty, money, or build a warp drive and go to the stars, the human condition would necessarily change. And a certain kind of person would be in Starfleet in the first place. I don’t think a ship full of volatile, overly emotional people arguing with each other would last very long in deep space. I dunno, that’s just how I feel about it. I’m not saying drama can’t work in Trek. But I’ve always found the appeal of TNG to be that warm, dependable feeling you get from the crew. Their relationships are endearing. Not spiky and full of attitude. If I want that I can watch a dozen other shows ya know?

Alec Grimes

Eventhough I liked Insurrection….it was more like a television episode. After the success of First Contact…it was odd that they would take a step back. Movies are suppose to go bigger…storywise and visually. Nemesis had some great elements…but in many ways it was a very small film. The Romulan Senate setting was downright small. That set should have been humongous with hundreds of senators.
The thing that gets me though is paramount not adapting any of the Trek novels into movies.
And you wonder why Marvel Studios have been so successful. Why ? They take chances.
Star Trek in my opinion have always played it safe. Discovery….say what you will….but at least they took chances ….and can’t wait to see what season 3 brings.

Alec Grimes

The Romulans have never gotten a fair representation in the movies. If we could get something on par with Balance of Terror…that would be awesome.