Michael Chabon And Ayelet Waldman Sign Deal With CBS, Will Not Showrun ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 2

Michael Chabon and his wife Ayelet Waldman have signed a multi-year production deal with CBS TV Studios. Their first project for CBS is a series adaptation of Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which will be produced by Paramount Television and air on Showtime. Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman will serve as executive producers on the project.

The literary spouses had previously entered the world of television with their Netflix limited series Unbelievable, which was just nominated for four Golden Globes.

Changing role for Picard

Chabon will step down from his showrunning duties on Star Trek: Picard, which has completed production of its first season and is expected to return for a second. Chabon will stay with the series until he transitions to full-time show running of Kavalier and Clay when it ramps up in 2020. Deadline reports that he will remain creatively involved with the show as an executive producer.

Michael Chabon and Alex Kurtzman have a meeting during the production of Star Trek: Picard season one in May 2019.


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.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Picard news at TrekMovie.

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The River Temarc

This is not good news. Michael Chabon seemed to be really putting his imprimatur on PICARD.

Christopher Norton

I concur.

While I don’t disagree…CBS must have been really impressed with the work on Picard.

And there are plenty of great Show Runners out there I’m sure that will be ready for season two.

ML31

We have only seen a few trailers for Picard. I think its a bit premature to judge if this was good news or not. I do agree, that it PROBABLY isn’t good news based on the other writers. But since we haven’t seen the show yet we really have no idea.

Jefferies Tuber

He already mapped out several seasons, as described in a previous interview. Keep your shirt on.

'Drew

My shirt is going to be off should Season 1 prove to be phenomenal. Why? Because I know how this goes. New runner comes in and throws out all the old work because they have their own ideas.

Soren

That is hopefully where Patrick Stewart’s influence should kick in to stop erratic on the fly story decisions being made.

alphantrion

I think they should just get Jonathan Frakes for the new showrunner position. Experienced with Trek and a good friend of Mr Stewart. I think it might be a good, new experience for him.

alastair87

Perhaps, though I’m not sure Patrick Stewart’s creative decisions regarding Star Trek have held quite the same merit as his acting ability. He is supposedly one of those behind the drive to make Picard more of an action figure in the films rather than the figure he was on The Next Generation.

Forward Propulsion

what the hell? so if someone is too good they graduate from trek and move on up i guess

Michael Hall

Nothing different than what happened to TOS for its entire run, including its best (i.e. first) season. With all due respect, fans need to stop thinking they have an ownership stake of this franchise and those who are lucky enough to work in it. Chabon is a literary treasure, and if one season of Trek was what he wanted to do, it was lucky to have him that long.

Gary 8.5

I totally agree with you Michael. I intend to watch both shows.

The River Temarc

With all due respect, fans need to stop thinking they have an ownership stake of this franchise and those who are lucky enough to work in it.

That’s quite the…antagonistic statement. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that — if you accept the position of showrunner to a new television series — that you stay more than one year. And Star Trek is of course a valuable franchise for CBS, and valuable franchises need to be curated well.

Michael Hall

“Antagonistic”? What part of “with all due respect” did you not get?

And no, there is no “reasonable expectation” associated with the job tenure of a television show runner, inside the Trek franchise or out of it. You stay as long as you care to, then move on. If Chabon gives us an outstanding season of Trek (still an unknown, in spite of his literary cred), that’s exactly one more season than he owed us. Any further obligation is between him and CBS, not him and the fans; the days of indentured servitude are long over.

The River Temarc

Obviously no one is arguing that CBS could legally force him to stay on the job, assuming his employment relationship is the typical at-will relationship. (If he has an employment contract, which is of course unusual in the US, things might be different; they’re potentially enforceable, depending on a lot of variables. But this is veering off into arcane legalistic territory.)

My broader point is that it’s eminently reasonable for an employer to hire someone for a job and expect they stay longer than a year. If I hire an employee who then job-hopped away after an extremely short tenure, I’m justified in noting that if the employee asks for a reference. Surely no one can reasonably dispute this point.

And in this particular case, a longer tenure not only in the interests of fans, but I would argue in the interests of stockholders as well. CBS obviously can disagree; they seem to be calculating that Chabon can be more valuable working on KAVALIER AND CLAY than PICARD. I argue that CBS is making a mistake, and the move risks harming shareholder value by damaging a franchise they’re investing in. Star Trek (and TNG in particular) is a known quantity with a rapid fan base. KAVALIER AND CLAY could be a hit, but it could be a flop.

I admit my opinion is potentially biased by my view of Picard as my favorite Trek character, of course.

Finally, a more interesting philosophical question — obviously apart from the business merits of the decision — is whether artists/content creators have any kind of moral responsibility to consumers of art. That’s an old argument, possibly as old as civilization itself, and not one we’ll settle here. That said, I certainly don’t see your stance (“no responsibility whatsoever”) as self-evident.

That is why I think your argument, when phrased as “fans NEED to stop thinking they have a stake in the franchise” is antagonistic. (Perhaps “presumptuous” would have been a better choice of word.) Why do they “need” to do this? What’s the moral principle you’re appealing to when you say artists have no obligations to consumers of art? If you don’t defend this stance at all, but simply deliver it as an edict, you come across as Zeus delivering a message from high on Mount Olympus.

kmart

Piller wasn’t even sure he’d come back for s4 on TNG, and that indecision fed into how he wrote Riker in BOBWpt1. Given the perennially high turnover on writers and producers, expecting anyone to stick around for any stretch of time isn’t all that reasonable an expectation, unless they are vested, like, say, JMS with B5, or (I’d hazard a guess) Favreau with THE MANDALORIAN.

Marja

I imagine, especially if Chabon and Stewart sketched out the future seasons of the show, that CBS saw profit potential in “Kavalier and Clay.” And that would override any expectations on the part of the fans.

You have someone like Michael Chabon, you don’t keep him working on a show he’s outlined when you have a capable staff to carry out the projected work.

'Drew

“With all due respect” is not often taken seriously, similar to how people read “I’m not a ______, but…”

dennycranium

Agree with @MichaelHall. Also, CBS wouldn’t be loyal to any showrunner they didn’t like or agree with. Ask Bryan Fuller or his first two replacements. It’s show business,people. The Rolling Stones started out as a (good) cover band and went on to write their own anthems. Don’t begrudge Chabon his chance to move on from the Trek sandbox to his own….

Pick Hard

This is the norm on pretty much every TV show, ever.

Hauke Fischer

I’m currently reading Kavalier and Clay. It is his baby and Magnum Opus. As much as he loves Star Trek, Chabon was never going to pass on the chance to bring THIS to the screen (and I’m THRILLED seeing it is being made, the book is amazing!).
It was Chabon’s story treatment that got Stewart to come back, and I think we will all be very happy about that

TG47

Haute Fisher, I also can understand that Chabon would leap at the opportunity to bring his own novels to streaming, and, now that he’s demonstrated he can be a showrunner, ViacomCBS would offer that rather than have him go elsewhere.

It just seems unfortunate given that Chabon was only established as showrunner midway through the development of season one of Picard, that he wouldn’t do a second. One wonders though if there wasn’t a longer term game in making Chabon showrunner of Picard, in terms of the requirements of the guild hierarchy. It may not have been possible to sign a deal with him as a showrunner without the previous credit.

I note as a correction that it was Kirsten Beyer and Kurtzman who had the pen in writing the concept by all reports. Chabon was reported as joining the project later when the writers room was set up.

Marja

It would be very cool to see a screen adaptation of “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” as well!

J_Randomuser

That’s a real bummer. It would be really nice if Trek could manage to NOT play musical chairs with their showrunners.

Michael Hall

TOS changed showrunners (though the term didn’t exist at the time) and did pretty well up through its third season. TNG didn’t manage to find its groove until it changed showrunners in its third season. You just never know with these things.

J_Randomuser

I understand your point, but I’ll counter with pointing towards DISCO’s history with it’s three showrunners in two seasons. THAT is why I’m concerned.

Michael Hall

You may not like DSC, but I thought it overall improved in its second year, so by my lights the change in showrunners didn’t hurt it at all.

J_Randomuser

I like DSC quite bit, with second season very much an improvement over first. But it was still uneven in spots because 2nd season ended up saddled with some baggage from first. My only point is that it can cause chaos at times.

The River Temarc

This is my view as well. And remember it changed showrunners three times, no? From Fuller to Harberts and Berg to Kurtzman?

Mel

TOS didn’t have season long arcs. It was all the time standalone episodes. TNG was also more like TOS than DIS in this regard. If plot planning and gradual character development over a whole season or even the whole series is required to make it good, changing the people behind the scenes all the time often ends up badly. A good example is DIS for it. No clear plan and concept it sight there.

The River Temarc

Exactly. Do we think BREAKING BAD would be what it is without Vince Gilligan overseeing the show since its beginning?

And frankly, Kurtzman seems to be treating the franchise in a very schizophrenic way. We’re getting things like a Section 31 show, pointless cartoons to appeal to the kiddies, Discovery abandoning its premise entirely in favor of a leap into the future, etc.

The big counterpoint to this — exhibit A if you want to make the “trust in Kurtzman” argument — was PICARD. It hasn’t premiered yet, of course, but every frame in those previews seemed to me to be pitch-perfect. And while producing a TV show is a team effort, the PICARD production seemed to be exceptionally well-crafted and well-led. The high quality of “Calypso” also buttresses this expectation.

The departure of the showrunner *does* jeopardize this.

We’ll see. Good leadership transitions *do* happen. Presumably Patrick Stewart will continue to act as a kind of de-facto co-showrunner. But leadership transitions anywhere need to be handled very, very deftly. That’s particularly true in show business, where a leadership change can produce a harring creative disjunction, especially in a serialized format. The track record for third-generation Trek (the awful STID, Discovery’s showrunner revolving door) does not bode well.

'Drew

There’s a point to the kids cartoons. CBS has been aching for the kind of toy sales they haven’t seen since the Playmates days.

And I suppose also to hook the next generation while they’re young and graduate them to the grownup shows as they age.

Boo

Your comment is very strange. You claim that Kurtzman is treating the franchise in a schizophrenic way, but how? Because he’s looking to expand and do different things as literally all competing franchises have done? I’m sorry but if anything Kurtzman is seeing the wisdom of Star Trek trying to do different things rather than getting complacent on one stale objective, which is one of the reasons why Trek started to die out in the 2000s in the first place. Kurtzman is making sure that all their live action shows, while Star Trek, are also distinctive. He’s looking to do animated shows because they are NOT pointless. Do you know how Star Wars built up a younger audience before they even came back with more movies? It was cartoons. There’s a generation of kids who got into Star Wars by ways of The Clone Wars animated series, just as much as another group through Rebels. Star Wars always knew to target the younger audience to continuously replenish their fan base and Kurtzman would be smart to take note of that and develop that for Star Trek, not to mention before his death, even Roddenberry himself had wanted to do more animation. And quite frankly, Discovery going into the future is not even abandoning its premise. The show was originally conceptualized to be an anthology show dealing with different crews in different time periods every season, what they’ve done now is simply modify that original concept to one crew traveling to different time periods. If Trek is meant to be bold then why not change and put their characters in new settings. The show is actually quite brave for doing something new in the middle of a show’s run which no other Trek show has done.

TechNoir

Interesting…and a bit disappointing.

I wonder, are TV seasons becoming the new movies? By that I mean, are showrunners becoming more like movie directors? They do an individual short run of episodes season (like an extended movie) then move on to the next project.

alphantrion

I think you may have a point here. I think TV has definitely started to transition from standalone episodic format to standalone serial arc format where every year the show changes drastically from the previous year with a new showrunner. I also think there is a tendency of one upmanship here as the new showrunner almost always tries to one up the previous showrunner and try to put their own stamp on the shows. This can lead to all the inconsistencies and writing problems in the shows.

TechNoir

I don’t know about the one upmanship, but I do think there’s some kind of gradual merging going on with movies and TV. An interesting time ahead, to say the least.

Michael Hall

Actually, the novel’s title is “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.” And it’s a wonder and joy to read, even for those like me with little interest in its subject matter: the creation (and near-destruction) of the American comics industry.

J_Randomuser

Agreed. I read it in college and that was my introduction to Chabon. I’ve read most of his stuff since. “Yiddish Policemen’s Union” being my personal favorite.

Michael Hall

Yep, that one could have won the Pulitzer as well. I’m Jewish myself, and yet the diaspora culture he portrays in his alt-universe Sitka, Alaska, is as alien (and yet familiar) to me as any I’ve read in fiction.

Gary 8.5

Interesting book to turn into a series. I will be watching.

MysticalDigtial

I see this as Chabon: “Hmm, keep working on Star Trek, or have the chance to showrun a show based on my own work.”

I do not blame him at all, having creative control over an adaption of your previous work is a dream job.

Jeff

Right…the last thing you want to see happen is a great book like Kavalier and Clay go into someone else’s hands, if you have the ability to do it yourself.

Hauke Fischer

Yeah I completely understand Chabon’s reasoning for going to do K&C. It’s his Magnum Opus. And I’m sure if the timing wasn’t critical he’d have stayed on Picard.
I can’t wait the see the new show K&C is an amazing read.

Legate Damar

I’m almost done reading Kavalier and Clay. I look forward to seeing it on TV.

Joseph

This is cool for Mr. Chabon! Give Kirsten Beyer the keys to Picard, I feel like she’s earned it by now. Now I need to read this book I’ve been hearing such great things about! Between this and the upcoming Stand adaptation, CBSAA is becoming a really cool platform for shows.

The River Temarc

Give Kirsten Beyer the keys to Picard

This might work.

Athus

Already jumping ship? Woow..

Pick Hard

This isn’t a case of jumping ship. Actually read the article before replying to it.

ML31

Actually it kinda is. He’s jumping one ship onto what he thinks is a better or more desirable ship. There may or may not be anything wrong with the ship he is jumping from. But he IS jumping ship.

Denny C

A true jump would be leaving CBS for another company. CBS is letting him write his own ticket to keep him in-house.

ML31

I think the writer was saying jumping ship in regards to Star Trek. The article above also says his new show is meant for Showtime. So even though both are part of ViacomCBS he’s jumping ship on CBSAA as well.

Trek in a Cafe

Maybe he started something great and they will find other talented writers to create where he left off.

Lukas

Cool, now bring back Moore and Behr, along with Braga and Coto.

alphantrion

Moore and Braga have shows on the air that they are working on, so they might not have the time but I wouldn’t be opposed to Behr or Coto (or his brother) for the job.

Tiger2

I would happily take all those back as well! But I have faith the first season of Picard will bring back the old Trek spirit.

dennycranium

Bring back old Trek? I wouldn’t count on it. Sir Patrick was very vocal about not rehashing or repeating things he’d done before. I’ve a friend who works on Picard. He couldn’t say much but he said it has a Trek feel while being different at the same time. I’m looking forward to seeing how Picard has evolved.

Tiger2

Yeah I seen the trailers I know its different lol. And as I SAID, I’m talking about the SPIRIT of Star Trek that I want to see, not just everyone being on a starship again! Your friend said what I’m saying:

“He couldn’t say much but he said it has a Trek feel while being different at the same time.”

That’s literally what I want and why I love DS9 so much. It kept the spirit of Trek while being something radically different than TNG and TOS. That’s exactly what I’m hoping for with Picard.

ML31

Kurtzman could do worse than get Coto back. Perhaps he could run a Pike centered show? ;)

I think he might have been overwhelmed with the workload as he said in a couple of interviews that it’s a crazy pace and he is writing like he newer wrote b4 :)

Tiger2

But he’s not quitting TV though. He’s just moving from one show to another. I don’t think that’s the reason. Others said it, this is producing his own work (and he probably makes more money on top of it since it’s based off his own story), so I can’t blame him. Picard and working on Star Trek is probably exciting but its still all based on things other people created decades ago.

DIGINON

This is just a wild guess but coming up with something new (Picard) might be more work than adapting his own work for streaming.

Tiger2

There is no proof it has anything to do with that though. EVERYONE who worked on Star Trek from TNG on were producing new things for it. When Chabon wrote his novel, he was producing something new. The guy just now has a chance to turn his work into a mainstream show and MAYBE become Star Trek in its own right, especially if the book is as good as so many people say it is.

I remember arguing a few months ago here that most people don’t know who Michael Chabon is because most people have never read or heard of his books (and I include myself in that, never ever heard his name before until the Calypso short). But once you turn a literary work into a TV show or a film that can literally change over night. That basically what happened to George RR Martin when GOT hit HBO and for the millions who never heard of the books before then. Who wouldn’t want that opportunity with their own original work? I’m guessing that’s what every writer dreams of, not just to write but to be famous for their own creations.

DIGINON

The original commenter suggested it might have been the workload on Picard. His new show may indeed involve less work (we will never know) but I agree that it’s probably more the chance to adapt his own creation to the screen than workload that made him move.

Tiger2

Yes and as I said its nothing but an ASSUMPTION. You can believe that but I don’t and in fact think the idea is silly. And no one has suggested it has anything to do with him leaving the show other than just getting a chance to adapt his own work.

We obviously agree on this, so I get you’re not making that argument but if this was a real issue I doubt CBS would be offering him to show run another show if the workload was so bad for him on Picard. His own story or not, they would just put someone in who they knew could handle the job. In fact I’m guessing the opposite of that and why he’s now running his own show and not just a producer or writer on it.

VZX

If the Picard show is a hit with fans and critics, I do not think it will change much when Chabon steps down. The report states he will still be an executive producer, so he will still be involved. Other that TOS, which Star Trek series was a hit out of the gate? They all took their time to hit their stride, some more than others. If Picard show is like TOS in that it is perfect right away, it would be illogical to change that.

Wehmut

Well, besides taking the chance to do a new (maybe bigger) project, there is something like loyalty. Maybe Star Trek was his foot into the door – fine. Take the new project. But dont abandon those brought you there. I doubt he can write real Trek if his heart is set like this.

Denny C

He didn’t abandon those who brought him in. CBS offered him an opportunity to produce his own work – – for CBS. They all work for CBS, not Star Trek.

A34

He doesn’t owe Star Trek anything. Star Trek is a business.

DeanH

Not much to say since we have not seen any episodes of Picard yet! It would be nice for him to stay from a consistency standpoint but talented people will always have choices and this was chance to work with his wife on his own project, so you certainly can’t fault the guy. Hopefully not any kind of warning flag that he didn’t like the direction of the show but that is just negative speculation. Just 43 more days to the premiere of Star Trek – Picard!!

alphantrion

I wonder if there is a chance they could get Jonathan Frakes as the new showrunner? I know he doesn’t have any experience in this part of the business, but he has the necessary background and the respect from Trek community. I think it might be a good choice. He could still direct episodes even when he is the showrunner. However, I have a feeling that he enjoys the directing part of the business more than the other parts that involve perhaps dealing with lot more people and studio people on a day to day basis. In any case, this would be an inspired choice.

Michael K

That’s too bad, but this is also a big opportunity for him to create something of his own instead of moonlighting on somebody else’s creation. It doesn’t signal anything beyond a talented creator taking on a huge opportunity and moving on. Star Trek has usually thrived in change, and suffered in stagnation. I’m not bothered by changes in the writing room, this is nothing new for Star Trek. For all we know, Season 1 will be weaker than Season 2, we haven’t seen either yet.

tacotuesday

So, Discovery and Picard are just going to constantly change showrunners? Yikes.