Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon is now also a member of the Star Trek family, having written two Short Treks episodes, and co-developed and been the showrunner on season one of Picard. Chabon recently spoke to various media outlets about Picard and his latest Short Treks episode.
Sir Patrick Stewart is highly involved
[We got] priceless input from Sir Patrick Stewart… the things he told us, the things he said he was interested in doing, and was not interested in doing. The acting challenges he was looking for, and the things that he felt were old challenges that he had already risen to and he was not interested in doing again. We took all that so seriously, like gospel. We really tried to tailor the story to suit the actor, to suit the thinker… [Stewart had given a lot of thought] to what it was that made Picard interesting to him, what he thought was going to be interesting about Jean-Luc Picard at his fairly late stage of his life. What was important to Patrick Stewart looking around at the world that we’re living in now. He very much let us know he wanted the story to resonate to our times.
The energy on the set
The energy on set very much varies according to the director. In general the energy was high, the cast all got along really well, they all became friends, they seemed to really like being around each other, enjoy each other’s company.
When Jonathan Frakes is directing an episode he is such a big, booming, lovable, warm, enthusiastic, sometimes silly style of directing that kind of sets the tone for what’s happening. When a director like Maja Vrvilo, who directed our sixth and eighth episodes, she’s a very methodical, focused, prepared, she has an energy of her own, but it’s a very sort of focused energy, that produced equally positive, but very different atmosphere on the set.
When Akiva Goldsman was directing his block, the last block, episodes nine and ten, it’s just fun to be around him… and he creates this ‘We’re all this together, let’s all put in a show in the barn,’ that’s his mentality, like we’re all friends, and we’re all just gonna do this together.
Chabon also did an interview with SyFyWire a few weeks back when his second Short Treks episode (“Q&A”) was released.
The genesis of “Q&A”
It’s something I’ve mulled over and thought about since the very first time I saw ‘The Menagerie,’ when I was like ten years old, and of course there was a Doylist explanation for why Spock is so, so different. But, the one thing that just can’t be explained is from a Watsonian point-of-view was that; like what is with Spock? It’s that smile. More than anything. Yeah, there’s the shouty-ness and lots of other expressions of emotion that are sort of disturbing if you feel like you know the character of Spock. In the extra-fictional sense, Spock took over Number One’s personality. And if we’re going to really plunge into them and they’re going to be co-existing with each other, we need to account for that.
Enter Gilbert and Sullivan
That arose because it’s in Rebecca Romijn’s resume! I didn’t know that. I inquired. I was already thinking of Number One and her quote-unquote ‘freaky.’ So I asked her if there was anything that Rebecca might be capable of that I didn’t know, that the public didn’t know, that maybe nobody knew, and that’s one of the first things said she was a trained Gilbert and Sullivan singer, and I said ‘that’s perfect.’
Writing Star Trek: Picard
Writing Picard is very different than writing Short Treks. The story arc of Picard, shape of Picard, the characters, every aspect of Picard was co-created simultaneously. This grew first by a core group who was Akiva Goldsman, me, Kirsten Beyer, and Alex Kurtzman. That core group generated overall plot arc in their broadest sense, and then, the Star Trek: Picard [writers’] room was eventually convened, which was a somewhat expanded version of that initial group who co-created and co-generated the storylines and the episodes, and what would happen in the individual episodes. The storylines are neither handed down from up on high nor was it me generating it by myself. It was very much a collaboration.
I can’t wait for you to see Picard. It’s coming from exactly the same place in my mind and my heart and my imagination as this short did, I think fans are going to love it.
Star Trek: Short Treks are available in the USA on CBS All Access. Season 2 is available in Canada via CTV Sci-Fi Channel (formerly known as Space) and Crave. Availability for the second season in other regions has not be announced.
Star Trek: Picard will be released in January 2020. It will be available on CBS All Access in the USA. CTV Sci-Fi Channel (formerly called Space) and CraveTV in Canada, and on Amazon Prime Video for the rest of the world.