Variety first announced Star Trek XI with this sentence “J.J. Abrams is becoming the next Gene Roddenberry.”, referring to the late creator of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as producer and co-writer of the first Trek feature film Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In the recently reported debate, Free Enterprise producers (and big time Trekkies) Rob Burnett and Mark Altman agreed on one thing: Paramount did the right thing by bringing in a new team headed by JJ Abrams. Burnett went on to say that Abrams and his team “bring Star Trek creative blood not seen since Nicholas Meyer“. Meyer is the writer and/or director of the Trek classics Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. So which is he…the new Roddenberry or the new Meyer?
Paramount has chosen Star Trek XI producer JJ Abrams’ debut film to make a bit of Hollywood history. According to the industry trades, Mission Impossible III (which Abrams directed and co-wrote) is to be the first film to be simultaneously released on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray as well as regular DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment honcho Meagan Burrows has high praise for Abrams’ film: ” ‘M:I-3’ set a new standard for action films and is setting a new standard for the home entertainment experience.”
Last month we reported highlights of a TV Guide interview with Star Trek XI producer JJ Abrams. The full interview is now online at TVGuide.com. A few websites are picking up this interview as a new, but it is actually the same interview from last month (just now in web form). If you saw the earlier report, then there is no new information. Regardless, it is a good read to get a bit more insight into the man who has Star Trek’s future in his hands. The following are the highlights in easy to digest bullet points: Scifi show influences: Twilight Zone and The Prisoner Favorite: Twilight Zone (fave episode: “Where is Everybody”) Considers Lost to be ‘Scifi’…kept this secret from ABC Will be more involved in Lost Season 3 than Season 2 Describes being involved with Trek ‘surreal but wonderful’ Fan of Star Trek (Original Series) and Star Trek: The Next Generation, not so much others (DS9, VOY, ENT) Has all DVD’s of all Trek series Would only take Trek if Paramount had ‘open mind’ Still wont talk specifics yet In the middle of “breaking the story” (NOTE: at time of interview last month) Wants to start film production sooner rather than later, but not until ready STXI Story ‘honors canon’ but is ‘nothing seen before’ Respects Trek fans, has learned a lot from Lost fans Believes Trek endures because of ‘it’s characters and emotional connection’
Some Star Trek XI numbers 2…ranking of ‘TOS’ for preferred setting of STXI on new SciFi Wire poll (#1 ‘something new’) 2…ranking of ‘Matt Damon’ for the preferred new Kirk in a StarTrek.com poll (#1 ‘total unknown’) 5 (out of 5)… STXI’s level on Cinemablend ‘excite-o-meter’. 7…ranking of STXI on Cinescape top 10 movies in development Did someone mention Matt Damon? According to Moviehole, he has pulled out playing the title role in the Lance Armstrong biopic, to be replaced by Jake Gyllenhall. The reason given is ‘his busy schedule’. Matt will be filming Ocean’s Thirteen and The Bourne Ultimatum through the winter. Leaving his spring wide open…JJ Will Paramount bring back the Star Trek spoof Galaxy Quest at the same time its bringing back Trek itself? Tim Allen tells the SciFi Wire that a sequel idea has been presented to Dreamworks (now part of Paramount). Never give up, never surrender Tim.
Trekkies want to know: when and where exactly is Star Trek XI going to be set? The teaser poster and the few comments from the film’s creators have led us to expect a prequel to Original Series, but that leaves a lot of room. Much of the speculation to date has focused on the rumor of a ‘Cadet Kirk’ and an Academy setting. When the Matt Damon as Kirk rumor surfaced many scratched their heads tyring to put the two rumors together (eg: a mid 30s actor playing a cadet) . Well the Trek XI Report might be able to clear that up with a little tip from a trustworthy insider who reports: Star Trek XI will feature the first voyage of Kirk as captain of the Enterprise. This report makes the Matt Damon report make a lot more sense (he is about the same age as Shatner was during the Original Series). This could also fit within Star Trek history since Kirk’s first mission on the Enterprise was never depicted on either the Original Series or in any of the 7 movies with the Kirk character.
The new Star Trek movie is still two years away but it has already has it’s very own ‘dancing baby’; in the form of a very angry Captain Kirk. Wherever people are talking about the new movie, invariably you will find a link to the ‘Shatner Is Kirk’ page at ytmnd.com (a community-based site where users upload various humorous animations and videos). Since its creation 3 weeks ago, the vid has been viewed over 65,000 times. You will often see links to the ‘Shatner Is Kirk’ page posted by those arguing against any actor (including Matt Damon) filling William Shatner’s space boots. Clearly it’s maker was sending a message that he joins in their ‘anti-recasting’ cause…or does he? The Trek XI Report talked to the man behind this internet hit, and he wants to “set the record straight”.
Trek XI Report’s campaign for IMDB accuracy pays off As reported here yesterday, the Matt Damon rumor went into overdrive after IMDB seemingly confirmed Damon would be the new Kirk. The internet feeding frenzy surrounding this got picked up by the Wall Street Journal who contacted IMDB, JJ Abrams and others involved in the story (including yours truly at the Trek Movie Report). The Amazon spokesman (IMDB’s parent company) claimed they usually get their info from studios, but when pressed he admitted that for Trek XI they were using ‘published reports’ (aka ‘rumors’). IMDB couldn’t even identify what reports they used for their Star Trek XI page, and the studio refused to confrim the cast and plot IMDB published (as Stephen Colbert would say: “Nailed!”). As a result, IMDB have downgraded Damon to ‘rumor’, removed the reference to ‘Captain’ Kirk, and removed the rumored Starfleet Academy plot summary…exactly as suggested by the TMR. Unfortunately the other errors we noted (compser, SFX, etc) haven’t been fixed…so IMDB you are still ON NOTICE.
Mark A. Altman and Robert Meyer Burnett (the team behind the 1998 cult hit Free Enterprise) may be friends but they don’t see eye to eye on Star Trek XI. Their semi-autobiographical indie film about two struggling filmmakers who meet their childhood hero William Shatner (who plays himself) demonstrates that these two take their Star Trek very seriously. In the latest issue of CFQ (of which Altman is a co-Publisher) the pair square off…
The Matt Damon buzz keeps on going, just today Slashdot and Metafilter are ‘reporting’ that IMDB is ‘reporting’ that Damon will play Kirk. Astute readers of both quickly put up links to The Trek Movie.com IMDB Corrections article. To our knowledge it is still officially a rumor…if that changes, Trek XI Report readers will be the first to know. Star Trek Enteprise vet and avowed Trek fan Daniel Dae Kim tells IGN that he gave some advice to Trek XI producer JJ Abrams: "Dont blow it" and "make sure the ships are cool"…we agree. Lost co-star Jorge Garcia suggests he, Kim and Abrams’ pal Greg Grunberg can all don alien makeup for a ‘star wars style cantina scene’. Garcia as a Horta anyone?(tip to TrekWeb)
It has been 10 days since Paramount announced the first teaser poster for Star Trek XI. This was big news and has been picked up all over the world in both the geekerazzi and the mainstream media, even Christianity Today. Most of the news analysis came to the same conclusion as the Trek Movie Report, that the poster is an indication the new film will be ‘old school Trek’ from the TOS era. Now Playing Magazine puts it succinctly: “The Trek poster would seem to indicate that the new film will return to the era of the original Kirk and Spock adventures” obviously picking up on the two major clues, the insignia (only used on the Original Series) and the colors (matching Kirk and Spock’s uniforms). But of course being about Star Trek…the speculation doesn’t end there.
A few weeks ago the Insider’s Marc Malkin reported that Star Trek XI producer JJ Abrams‘ wife Katie Mc Grath pulled off a last minute surprise party for JJ’s 40th Birthday. Guests (who varied from Don Rickles to Richard Lewis to the Tom Cruise himself) weren’t told where it was until just hours before it was to start. That story focused on the Tom/Katie/Suri angle so Malkin left something out, but he has sent it our way since we are all Trek XI all the time! Marc tells the Trek XI Report that in order to keep JJ from finding out about the party; he was told that he was going to a meeting with none other than William Shatner (Star Trek‘s original Kirk). Although that was just a ruse to keep Abrams from finding out about his party, it is intriguing that his people used a Shatner meeting as their choice for distractions. This is even more intriguing when one looks at the various comments being made by Shatner regarding Abrams and Star Trek XI.
Marina Sirtis (TNG’s Deanna Troi) and Levar Burton (TNG’s Geordi La Forge) attended a panel (at last September’s DragonCon) to discuss their work on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In a video posted this week to YouTube (below) you can see their answers to questions about their most recent Trek films as well as Paramount’s plans for switching from the TNG cast to a TOS prequel for Star Trek XI (NOTE: since this video was shot Paramount have cancelled plans for one prequel project from Rick Berman and greenlit another prequel project produce by JJ Abrams…but both concepts are rumored to be set pre-TOS and not include the TNG casts)
Now it’s Michael Dorn’s turn to let us know how he really feels. Dorn (Lt. Worf) talked to the Houston Chronicle as part of the release of the new ‘Star Trek Fan Collective: Klingon’ set of DVDs. Regarding the possibility of Star Trek XI being a TOS prequel he says “I think that would be a mistake…you dont go backwards in Star Trek”. Like Sirtis, Dorn also takes a swipe at the Trek TV Shows made after Star Trek: The Next Generation, “I don’t think he would have done any of those shows” Dorn said, referring to the late Gene Roddenberry (creator of the Trek franchise). Presumably Dorn’s comments are limited to Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise being that Dorn was on the Paramount payroll for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for 5 years. Dorn who has the distinction of appearing in more Star Trek episodes than any other actor believes that Paramount has ‘milked the cashcow almost dry’, but would he play Lt. Worf again? “I’m smart enough to never say never”.
One of the issues that many Trek devotees seem to be fixated on is that of recasting. The assertion of these fans is that audiences will not accept new actors in the roles made famous by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. But Hollywood has never shied away from recasting roles…even iconic ones. This week the top film is Miami Vice, in which original show creator Michael Mann has recast quintissential 80s stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx. The film made over $25 million in its first weekend in the US (The LA Times saying it is on track to exclipse Mann’s 2004 hit Collateral). Are Kirk and Spock any more iconic than Crockett and Tubbs?
[Trek XI Report Exclusive] Since their first announcement over 3 months ago, StarTrek.com hasnt had much content for Trek XI. Well that is all starting to change according to CBS Digital’s Sandy Stone (Content Producer for Star Trek.com), telling the Trek XI Report that StarTrek.com has been deemed the official site for Star Trek XI. The first evidence of this was last week when the first Star Trek XI teaser poster was announced on the site, as well as being made available for download. ‘StarTrek.com’ features prominently on the poster and will also adorn all future promotional materials, trailers, etc. This is all part of a new coordinated effort between CBS and Paramount Pictures (now separate companies after the split up of Viacom) . In addition the Trek XI section on ST.com has already been expanded to include some news and interview reprints, bios & photos of the creative team as well as some downloads. .. “and this is only the beginning” says Stone promising much more in terms of exclusive content.
In a live chat with fans on her official site, Marina Sirtis (TNG: Troi) didnt seem too happy with the direction Paramount is taking for Star Trek XI. "I agree with you all about the prequel, Gene Roddenberry always said that Star trek should go forward" she replied to the sentiments that the next Trek film should be set after Star Trek Nemesis, despite its disappointing box office. Her fans seem to want the new Trek film to focus on the Rikers abourd the Starship Titan. Star Trek Nemesis established that Sirtis’ Troi and Jonathan Frakes’ Riker were married and went off to have their own adventures. The Titan has become the basis for a series of popular Star Trek books.
IMDB is a fantastic resource for fans and film industry people alike. For films that have been completed it extremely accurate and can be relied upon. But for films development that is another story. People should remember that IMDB is like wiki in that most of the content is submitted by users (just like you). And it appears that Trekkies are a bit overzelous in their contributions because the IMDB entry for Star Trek XI is riddled with wild speculation and rumors and it appears to be getting worse. continue reading to get a full breakdown on what is real and what is myth…
Earlier this year after it appeared Rick Berman and Eric Jenderson‘s script for Star Trek: The Beginning (which was to have a whole new cast set 100 years before the time of Kirk) was going no where, Patrick Stewart got some ‘one more TNG film’ buzz going. Stewart told an online magazine in March that he had ‘got some calls from some money people’ regarding reprising his role as Jean Luc Picard. Since that time word of Abrams being signed and a likely TOS era plot have come out. Stewart has continued to be very noncommittal on whether he would even want to be in another film In todays Daily Telagraph Stewart discusses the idea So could he ever be seduced by Hollywood again? Another Star Trek movie? “I have such mixed feelings about Star Trek. It’s like a romantic relationship that’s over. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I haven’t ruled it out…
In the immortal words of Yogurt from Spaceballs (pictured right holding Spaceballs-the Flame Thrower…kids love it) “Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made.” To that end Paula Block from CBS Paramount consumer products announced at a Comic-Con that CBS Paramount will be handling the licensing for Star Trek XI. CBS Para has been on a bit of a roll lately for Trek liscensing, bringing Star Trek back into the world of gaming after a 3 year drought, along with a new magazine and even a Manga comic book. Block summed it up thusly: “Contrary to some people’s opinions, Star Trek isn’t dead”
Star Trek XI isnt the only big comeback for the Trek franchise in 2006. This year also marked the return of Trek to the gaming community with the announcement of a deal with BethesdaSoft last January. Star Trek had been out of the gaming world since Activision sued Paramount to get out of its licensing deal back in 2003.
Seems like Abrams isnt the only STXI writer cutting deals. Variety (via DarkHorizons.com) is reporting that Trek XI co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci will be producing a big screen adaptation of the Thomas Perry Novel "Nightlife" about a female serial killer. This is in addition to their work as writers on next summer’s blockbuster in waiting Transfomers…and of course the script they are presently writing the first draft of…Star Trek XI. It seems that Paramount/DreamWorks cant get enough of these guys..who appear to be joined at the hip (they are actually best friends who started a writing partnership back in high school). Although best known for their writing, they have signed on Ehren Kruger (Brothers Grim) to do the adaptation of Nightlife. To learn more about your Trek Writers..Interview with the WGAPodcast Interview with Creative Screenwriting
Lost and Trek XI producer Damon Lindelof (pictured in the middle) was asked for a reaction on Lost not being nominated for Best Dramatic Series Emmy for its second season (after winning for its first season). Lindelof exclaimed “Battlestar Galactica didnt get nominated either and thats a great show”. Fellow Lost and STXI producer Bryan Burk (pictured on left), along with Lost producer Carlton Cuse (pictured on right) joined in on the praise agreeing with Lindelhof’s assessment…as did the crowd of Losties who applauded the mention of Galactica.
I had a chance to ask Brannon Braga (C0-Creator: Star Trek Enterprise, EP: Star Trek Voyager, Producer/Writer Star Trek: The Next Generation, etc) if CBS Paramount was considering bringing Trek back to TV now that Paramount Pictures has greenlit another Trek film. He quickly responded “There are no plans for Trek on TV”. In a follow-up I asked him and the panel why (even after the success of Lost and a bit of a resurgence of ‘genre’ TV) there are no shows set in the future. The panel included fellow Trek Alum Rene Echevarria (Medium), David Goyer (Blade), Jeph Loeb (co-executive producer, Heroes), Bryan Fuller (consulting producer, Heroes), and Frank Spotnitz (Night Stalker, Star Chamber) who all agreed that TV executives are still afraid of scifi, “especially when you start talking about ships, aliens, robots and all that stuff” said Fuller.
During a panel about various Trek issues, Mike Okuda (long time Trek graphic artist) told the audience that the set built for the Enterprise episode ‘In a Mirror Darkly’ is one of the many lots being auctioned off by Christie’s this fall. The original series sets were of course destroyed decades ago, so Paramount spent a considerable amount of money recreating the TOS era bridge set required for that popular episode. Since then it has been in storage, but as Mr Okuda stated “storage is expensive”. I spoke to the people at the Christies Star Trek Auction booth and they confirmed that the entire set is being sold as a single lot and they expect $25,000+ for it.
3 months to the day after the first leak hit Variety Paramount released the first teaser poster for their 11th Star Trek film at ComicCon. Even after all the confirmations and discussions about Trek XI from Abrams and even Paramount themselves (especially in the last week), there is something about a visual image that makes it seem even realer.
Todays Daily Variety has a 3 page spread on the 40th Anniversery of Star Trek with a number of articles. Most cover the history of the franchise, the fans and fanfilms. They also got Mr Abrams to talk about Trek XI. Abrams starts of by telling Variety that he started off working on Trek at his Bar mitzvah…because none other than Nicholas Meyer was in attendance! He again confirms that he will be working with his usual suspects (Burk, Lindelof, Orci, Kurtzman, etc) and again says that it is too early to talk about plot details and again cant confirm if he will direct. He reveals that Paramount has flooded the team with ‘every published Star Trek work’ including the books…now that must have been a big delivery. The team he says has a variety of levels of Trek fandom, calling himself a ‘big fan’ (but wont go so far as calling himself a ‘Trekker’), Orci ‘has immediate recall of all things Trek’ and Burk seems to be a newbie…giving them as he says ‘all points of view’
After months of not hearing anything now JJA is talking to everyone! This time it is TV Guide’s turn, but of course he is still being cagey about details on plot… refusing to confrim or deny ‘young Kirk and Spock’. He did reveal that he is a big fan of TOS and TNG, but no so much DS9, VOY and ENT. While die-hard Trekkies may balk at this, lets face it…that is pretty much standard based on the ratings. Here is the moneyshot: “We’re in the middle of breaking the story, and it’s coming along great,” Abrams said. “We have an incredible beginning of a really dramatic story, and it very much honors the canon of Star Trek. On the other hand, it won’t be like anything you’ve seen before.” He adds, “I’d be happy to start sooner than Paramount thinks, but not a moment before it’s ready.” So there you have it…soon, canon-friendly, but different…what more can you ask continue reading for the full text of the TV Guide interview and a comment JJA gave to Cinefantastique …
News of the JJ Abrams deal with Paramount and Warner TV hit the wires and the trades on Monday (2 days after your humble blogger brought you the news). For the most part the reports focus on how amazingly rich and powerful Mr. Abrams is about to become, but our favorite topic (Trek XI) is mentioned in almost every report…most like this tidbit in The Hollywood Reporter Abrams already is attached to direct and produce a revival of the "Star Trek" film franchise for Paramount, which is his first project under the new feature deal. but Variety (who were first with Trek XI news in April) has a bit more info on how Paramount views the Trek franchise and Abrams place in it:
Much has been made about the recent rumor reported by the Insider that JJ Abrams wants Matt Damon to be the next Captain Kirk. The original report specifically said that JJ Abrams sought and recieved Shatner’s blessing. Since then USA Today reported Shatner as OKing Damon as young Kirk, quoting him “”I think it’s great. The tragedy is that when somebody else is playing you younger, you’re really old.” Now StarTrek.com is getting into the mix saying sources ‘close to Shatner’ claim Abrams seeking his advice is ‘news to him’ going on to say he hasn’t heard anything from Abrams or the producers of Star Trek XI. So there you have it…clear as mud.
Was Trek the clincher? It has been reported that Paramount’s Brad Grey has been actively pursuing Lost co-creator and MI3 Writer/Director JJ Abrams to sign on with Paramount after his deal with Disney ended this summer. Although Abrams had many suitors (Sony, Disney, Warner, etc) Grey had something the other studios didnt…Star Trek. Grey went so far as sheving another scifi project (Jon Favreau’s John Carter of Mars ) in the pipeline for 2008 to make room for a new Trek feature. Getting hold of this venerable (but now dormant) scifi franchise was a fanboy dream and something it appears that Abrams and his band of brothergeeks couldn’t resist. On Saturday the LA Times is reported (reg required) that Paramount had finally got their man for Trek XI and beyond.