Today, Monday, April 22nd, 2019, is the first day of production for the next new Star Trek series, the untitled show featuring Sir Patrick Stewart returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard, coming to CBS All Access later this year.
Picard production begins
Early on producers for the Picard show said they were targeting a mid-April start of production and recently have talked up how production would be starting soon. While some reports had the show set to begin last week, TrekMovie has confirmed that today is the first day of shooting. And according to the latest issue of the industry newsletter Production Weekly, the Picard show will be in production for around five months, with the wrap currently planned for September 16th.
Unlike Star Trek: Discovery which is shot in Toronto, Canada, production for the Picard show is taking place in Southern California, fueled by $15.6 million tax break from the California Film Commission. The first two episodes are being directed by Hanelle Culpepper, with Doug Aarniokoski as second unit director. The first season of the show is structured as a highly serialized arc of ten episodes, which Stewart describes to be like a “10-hour movie.” Directors will shoot in two-episode “blocks,” with Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek: The Next Generation co-star Jonathan Frakes set to direct the second block of episodes three and four.
Picard’s next chapter
It has been just a bit over seventeen years since the last time Sir Patrick Stewart has played the role of Jean-Luc Picard, following the wrap of production on Star Trek: Nemesis in March 2002. The only official description of the new show says it “will explore the next chapter of Jean-Luc Picard.” It will be set roughly two decades following the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, or around the end of the 24th century, which was the setting for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as the four TNG-era feature films.
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman has also stated that the show will deal with the aftermath of the events of the 2009 Star Trek film which take place in the Prime Timeline, specifically the destruction of the Planet Romulus in the year 2387 following a supernova. Kurtzman notes “Picard’s life was radically altered by the dissolution of the Romulan Empire.” Patrick Stewart has also noted that things have changed, saying “the world that we find Jean-Luc Picard in is not quite the world that we left him in,” and in another interview adding “things are very different from what they were.”
A different Picard
Since he first announced the show at Star Trek Las Vegas last summer, Patrick Stewart has made it clear this is going to be a different kind of show than Star Trek: The Next Generation. At the time he told fans: “He may not be the Jean-Luc that you recognize and know so well. It may be a very different individual. Someone who has been changed by his experiences.” As the show was being developed Stewart stated that the series “has to feel grounded, whatever choices we’re making in the future because I think one of the things that people love about Next Gen is that it is a very emotional, thoughtful, grounded piece of entertainment.”
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman has discussed that Patrick Stewart wanted the show to be different: “He did not want to repeat what he had already done. And by the way, it’s been 20-plus years so he couldn’t possibly be that same person anymore.” And CBS All Access exec Julie McNamara has stated the Picard show will “be very different from Discovery, even more character-driven.” Kurtzman has given more detail on how the two shows will differ, saying “It’s an extremely different rhythm than Discovery. Discovery is a bullet. Picard is a very contemplative show. It will find a balance between the speed of Discovery and the nature of what Next Gen was, but I believe it will have its own rhythm.”
However, while the show is being touted as something different, the producers have also said it will still be true to the character of Picard and the franchise. Speaking for the team behind the show, Michael Chabon said: “we have this responsibility to continue to articulate a hopeful, positive vision of the future.”
A new team
One area that demonstrates how this is a different TV show is that Patrick Stewart is the only returning Trek veteran as a series regular. CBS has announced six additional castmembers with Santiago Cabrera, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Alison Pill, Harry Treadaway, and Isa Briones. CBS has not provided any details on the characters the new cast will play.
While it is always possible for some of Stewart’s TNG-era costars to appear on the show, there has been no indication that they will do so. Last September Marina Sirtis noted: “When Patrick said ‘Jean-Luc Picard is back,’ he didn’t say TNG is back.” Some of the TNG cast have indicated a willingness to participate if asked, including Wil Wheaton. The buzz around the show has even got other actors raising their hands, including Trek Fan Rosario Dawson and James McAvoy who has volunteered to play a young Jean-Luc Picard, after having experience playing a younger version of Stewart’s Professor X in the X-Men franchise.
The Picard show is being executive produced by Alex Kurtzman along with Secret Hideout president Heather Kadin. Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon and Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman are also executive producers and writers for the show. The writers’ room has also included Discovery writers room crossovers James Duff and Kirsten Beyer.
Keep up with all the upcoming Star Trek TV shows on TrekMovie.com.