At last weekend’s FedCon 16 in Germany Jonathan Frakes let loose on Paramount and the last Trek movie, but then had some nice things to say about JJ Abrams and the next movie. Regarding the box office failure Star Trek Nemesis, the director of two previous films joked "there was a perfectly good director available." He then used a couple empty seats reserved for Paramount to poke some fun at the studio. Holding up the chair signs he yelled out "this is a perfect example, see who is not here…Paramount…need I say more? That speaks volumes." To cheers from the audience he continued, "Paramount doesn’t show up. Paramount doesn’t know what to do with the franchise."
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy appeared at Creations Star Trek Convention in Minneapolis on Sunday. TrekMovie has received a number of reports from attendees regarding how Shatner and Nimoy started out by saying they had no real news regarding Star Trek XI, with Shatner even joking he was "out of the loop." Both actors did express an openness to appearing in the film (especially Shatner). Nimoy was more subdued; noting (as he has done previously) that he would only be involved "if they had a meaningful role" for him However, they said that they had not yet been contacted by the Trek XI team regarding appearing in the film. Shatner did talk up his upcoming novel Starfleet Academy: Collision Course, noting how it also tells the story of Kirk and Spock’s early years.
Producers Dave Rossi, Mike Okuda and Denise Okuda along with visual effects supervisor Niel Wray came to the Grand Slam SciFi Summit to talk Remastered Star Trek. Before taking questions they showed off a four minute reel of the new effects which seemed to wow the crowd. The video even showed some clips from upcoming shows as well. After the clip they opened it to questions and to prepare himself Dave pulled out a TOS era phaser to fend on any ‘you are ruining my childhood’ type purists. As it turns out there weren’t any purists to fend off. In fact some who came to the mic admitted that they were purists who had been ‘converted.’
It is still a bit early for Star Trek XI to have any official panels or presentations for the Creation Grand Slam being held this weekend in Burbank, but J.J. Abrams still had a presence. Trek XI’s writer/director sent a message to the fans, which was read to the crowd by Richard Arnold Saturday morning. Dear Grandslammers, We are currently in pre-pre-pre-production, and are all beyond excited — and honored — to bring you the next chapter in the Star Trek saga. There will be much more to say at next year’s convention — but for now, know that we are working hard to do you proud. Thank you for your support, and for keeping Mr. Roddenberry’s vision alive. Best, J.J. Abrams
If you live in the Bay Area make sure to drop by Wondercon on Friday at 5:30 to see the panel Trek Lives! The Rise, Fall and Rise of Star Trek. The panel is set up by Geek Monthly Magazine and will feature other Treksperts ‘discussing the past, present and future of sf’s first franchise.’ I will be joined by Jeff Bond and Daren Dochterman as well as Robert Meyer Burnett (director of Free Enterprise). Daren will be showing some of his rare audio and video stuff from Trek history. I will pontificate on TOS-R, STXI and the future of Trek! I will also be hanging around the Geek Monthly booth. For more info see the Official Wondercon Site
William Shatner appeared at a couple of Trek conventions over the weekend and gave some more details from his conversations with Star Trek XI Producer J.J. Abrams. According to TrekWeb, Shatner again confirmed that the characters of Kirk and Spock would be in the film, telling the crowd in Springfield, MA that "I had a talk with J.J. Abrams a while ago and they were writing a new script – and we are all hoping it will be wonderful…and he said, they were going to get the Kirk and Spock characters in there." The next day Shatner was in New York where Doug Wilson of TrekCore.com reports Shatner as saying "J.J. [Abrams] is committed to having Leonard and I, Leonard and me, in the film." Shatner also suggested that Abrams would be looking at unkowns for the roles of the younger Kirk and Spock.
The popular culture presented at a Detroit’s Motor City Comic Convention is multifarious. Last weekend’s con had The Greatest American Hero’s Robert Culp to I Dream of Jeannie and The Bob Newhart Show’s Bill Daily to Desperate Housewives’ Dagney Kerr all there to blend the worlds of science fiction, comedy, comic books, and entertainment. For Trekkies there were Star Trek XI posters offered as swag, fans dressed in Trek costumes, Trek items for sale, Lori Petty (Noss from Voyager) signing autographs and last but not least Michael Dorn (TNG: Worf) sharing his thoughts on Trek’s past and future. About 100 people crammed into a small room to hear Dorn discuss his views and experiences of Star Trek.
Spotted this tidbit about Denise Crosby in the most recent Vegas con report on StarTrek.com After producing and hosting the first two "Trekkies" documentaries, Crosby said she is toying with ideas for a third one. "We’ll see — I’vegot it in mind to do. I’d like to do three; I just think three seems more complete — I’m looking at the boxed set down the line, y’know?" She said the theme of the next project would likely involve what she called "fan filmdom." It would be an interesting move for Paramount to put out another ‘Trekkies’ movie around the same time they are trying to expand the audience for Star Trek with Star Trek XI. If it does happen one would hope that Crosby and the other producers strived to be a bit more balanced then the previuos two films. Many Trek fans have felt that Trekkies I and II reinforced many of the negative stereotypes of Star Trek fans, some of which are now being dispelled by Trek Sociologist John Tenuto. The choice of the so called ‘fan films’ is also interesting, it could be seen as one step closer to legitimacy for these independent Trek films.
StarTrek.com has posted a very belated con report from the Creation Vegas convention from 5 weeks ago (see our story here). This one covers many different people but has some more detailed comments on Trek XI from Michael Dorn, Rod Roddenberry and Paula Block…here they are… Rod Roddenberry Thinks Abrams ‘gets it” I am very open to J.J. Abrams doing this next movie. I like thefact that it’s someone new. I also like the fact that he’s an actualfan of the show … I’d be concerned that it might be, y’know, another version of ‘Star Wars’ but now called ‘Star Trek’ … [But] I think he’s one of us. He gets it, he has the passion, and I think he’s gonna do a great job. I just want to make sure he’s strong enough to stand upto the executives that say, ‘We need bigger breasts.’ That comes afterwards — let’s get the story first.
StarTrek.com has just posted a con report from the recent PlanetXPo in Seattle which describes a Trek XI themed ‘radio play’ performed by a number of Trek Luminaries. The play was titled ‘My Kingdom for a Kirk’ and mimicked a theoretical casting call for a new captain Kirk. Star Trek Enterprise’s John Billingsley played the part of Trek XI producer JJ Abrams, assisted by his secretary "Miss Rand" played by Grace Lee Witney. Auditioning for the role of Kirk was none other than George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig…all playing themselves. Takei self deferentially told ‘Abrams’ that he should actually do a movie about ‘The Adventures of Captain Sulu on the Excelsior’, then acquiesed to doing his best attempt at a Kirk (in full Shatner mockery). Nichols tried to convince Abrams that he should have a woman play Kirk and Koenig tried to convince him he wanted a Russian Captain Kirkov. The original series stars were followed up by Tim Russ and Gary Graham vying for the part of the new Spock. Alan Ruck, J.G. Hertzler and Garrett Wang also show up with the play ending with ‘Abrams’ deciding he is willing to pay Matt Damon anything he wants.
TrekBBS friend Sean brings TrekMovie this new con report: Nimoy and Shatner Look Back, Express Hope for the Future Two legends, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, shared the stage on Sunday to celebrate Star Trek’s 40th Anniversary at Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention in Sacramento, California. As usual, they didn’t disappoint the sold out audience gathered to hear them share their memories of the franchise. Nimoy appeared first, looking fit and happy. He shared with the audience that he had “been contacted” by JJ Abrams, director of Star Trek XI. He did not go into anymore detail, except to express positive impressions of Abrams and hope for the film. One audience member asked him if the movie was supposed to be about a young Spock, would Nimoy consider an offer to play Sarek? After a brief pause, Nimoy said “Someone get Abrams on the phone right away!” Nimoy went on to say in all seriousness, that he was retired from the movie business, preferring to focus on his photography and spending time with his family. When it came time for Shatner’s appearance, he began with the statement that, although there was no Star Trek right now, “Something is in the wind. Something exciting.” He was referring obviously to the new movie, and also had praise for Abrams. “He seems to be a bright and talented young man.” Shatner said he did not know whether or not he would be asked to appear in the film, but did not rule out an appearance.
Creation Chicago Star Trek 40th Anniversary Convention: Sept 8th: Shatner & NimoyThe hall was filled to capacity to see Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. Nimoy took the stage first and reminisced about for about 20 minutes, taking time to discuss the origin of his book ‘I am Not Spock’. Then Shatner came on and in his usual energetic way, shared memories of Star Trek, and going on to volunteer several interesting discussions about Star Trek XI. Shatner mentioned that he had spoken with JJ Abrams just one day earlier. [Editor’s note, TrekMovie.com reported last week that Shatner and Nimoy said they were expecting calls from Star Trek XI producer Abrams] Shatner went on to say that he and Abrams will be meeting some time this week. He talked very positively about Abrams, believing that he will be able to create a great version of Star Trek. He also jokingly discussed how very young Abrams is. Shatner’s enthusiastic comments certainly connoted that Kirk and Spock are characters for the film, and that there is a good possibility of Shatner and Nimoy reprising their roles for the film. Nimoy also seemed to be amenable to the film and Abrams, but said he had not yet spoken to Abrams directly. Here are a couple examples of Shatner’s hints: "On the horizon there are good things for Star Trek and hopefully my involvement" "the magic of Star Trek is in its origins and that is coming back."
I’ve got a few con reports from today’s Toronto Fan Expo regarding Abrams, Nimoy and Shatner. At the con, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner stated that their representitives have been contacted by the office of Star Trek XI producer JJ Abrams. Apparently JJ wants to to talk and has requested their home numbers. Nimoy said he gave his out and is awaiting JJ’s call. Shatner, who had brought the subject of Abrams up, joked that he wasn’t ready to talk to the man who was ‘going to revive the franchise’. Shatner in recent weeks has made many glowing comments about Abrams and about wanting to be in Trek XI…we suspect he will take Abrams call.UPDATE: Video from inside the room from John at the MovieBlog
After leaving the world of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica co-creator Ron Moore has never been shy about his views of modern Trek. He often cites the many flaws within recent Trek shows as exactly what he is trying not to do on his award series. Trek Movie Report had a brief chat with Moore after Sunday’s BSG panel and asked Ron what he thought of Trek XI. He said he didn’t know much, joking “I only know what I read, you can probably tell me more”. When asked about his views in general he seemed quite optimistic about Trek’s new future, saying “I think it’s a great idea, and I am glad JJ (Abrams) is doing it”
CNBC’s ‘On the Money‘ show took a trip to the Vegas Con to see just how much money there was in Star Trek. Their conclusion…A LOT. They estimate that the franchise has been worth $4 Billion for Paramount. A recent unnamed source from Paramount has caused a bit of a stir with his not too favorable comments to IESB about the Trek Franchise, but CBS Paramount VP John Wentworth goes on the record with CNBC: Star Trek is certainly more than a show, more than a movie. It is more than an auction, it’s more than a theme park, collectively it is just the most successful franchise I’ve ever seen in entertainment
As expected, there was no real news from the Official Star Trek Convention in Vegas, but our friend ‘davidoflondon tips us off to what some of the Trek luminaries were saying about it. Captain Kirk himself William Shatner continued his fawning over Trek’s new master by saying “JJ Abrams is going to lift us on the wings of fantasy”…We get it Bill, you want to be in the movie. Shatner was joined by Mr. Spock himself on stage and Bill ribbed Nimoy about how the first pilot for Trek (shot with Jeffrey Hunter playing Captain Pike). Shatner referred to it as “the one you were in that didn’t sell”.
Ever wanted to do the ultimate Trekkie roadtrip? Want to know the best route from the Aquarium from Star Trek IV to the Vulcan’s landing spot in Star Trek First Contact? Well now you can with Google Maps Star Trek Places (You can also see think links on GoogleEarth) has been showing off their Trek related goodies at their booth at Official Trek Convention in Vegas. Google has also launched a special website for Trekkies that allows fans to share Trek related artwork. IT News Online has a full breakdown of the technology behind Google’s new Trek themed sites and projects. Google seems to really love Trek, this is from their press release: “Wherever and whenever science fiction fans gather, an appreciation of technology – and alien visitations – can’t be far behind…While in Las Vegas to help celebrate Star Trek‘s 40th anniversary, the Google booth will showcase these science fiction scenes and structures, created by users, highlighting intergalactic life.”
Tipster ‘davidoflondon‘ sends us a Trek XI tidbit from Yesterday’s events at the Official Star Trek Convention in Vegas. Star Trek Nemesis and Star Trek: The Next Generation co-stars Brent Spiner (Data) and Jonathan Frakes (Riker) spoke to the fans and took some questions. As expected the subject of the next movie came up. When asked if Spiner’s character Data was really dead they said that it was up to Trek XI producer JJ Abrams. Well known for being jokesters, Frakes and Spiner put their tongues in cheeks when asked if Frakes would direct Trek XI. David reports: He (Frakes) said he was definitely going to and he wanted Brent to play every role. He said Brent does a particularly good Picard and Brent, of course, obliged with an impersonation of Patrick Stewart.
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)
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.
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.