Exactly 20 years ago today Paramount sent out print, TV and radio spots promoting their new Star Trek The Next Generation series, premiering in September 1987. Take a look at this promo video included on the 1987 VHS release of Star Trek IV (the 1986 hit movie that helped convince Paramount to bring Trek back to TV).
The current issue of TV Guide has an interesting Trek item in their regular ‘Hotlist: Best of the Web’ sidebar. It announces that Star Trek The Next Generation is now available to view online for free at VEOH.com That is big news as TNG is the only Trek series not available online (plus TOS, DS9, VOY and ENT episodes all cost $1.99 at XBox Live, Amazon UnBox and Apple iTunes). But once you visit the channel TV Guide lists it quickly becomes clear that this is not a new offering from CBS (who have an official VEOH channel), but rather pirated episodes being uploaded by a Norwegian teenage girl named Monica (aka ‘Meopic90’ pictured right). In addition to the channel owner clue, each episode is branded with the name and url of an unauthorized torrent site…oops.
As part of our 20th Anniversary celebration of Star Trek The Next Generation, here are clips from LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow visiting the TNG set during the first season.
Brannon Braga was one of the few Trek writer/producers to appear at this year’s Creation Las Vegas Star Trek Convention. Braga started off almost reticent, telling the crowd "it has been many years and so I am a little nervous." The veteran of Next Generation, Voyager and Enterprise made it clear that although Trek was an ‘amazing experience’ which occupied most of his adult life, he was not involved with Trek anymore and saw the con as a ‘nostalgic experience.’ After that, the Trek veteran’s appearance took on the nature of an exit interview with Braga inviting the crowd to get it off their chests: I wanted to stop by to say hi to you guys and to ask any last lingering questions you had. This may be the last one I do so this is your chance to get out you final gripes and questions.
Star Trek Generation stars Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner hit the Vegas stage like rock stars. The pair began by clowning around and that continued for the most of their fifty minute appearance. The stage was set up for a concert later which inspired the pair to go into song, starting off with a rendition of ‘Volare.’ The comedy team also did some impressions including Patrick Stewart, with Spiner’s being especially spot-on, starting off “I am the toast of England right now….” Frakes then noted was the 20th anniversary of NextGen by reflecting on what it was like for him at his first Trek convention in Syracuse New York 20 years ago filled with ‘very very angry reticent Star Trek fans.’ The actor who played Riker on Trek’s return to television in 1987 recalled the crowd’s reaction to Trek’s first spinoff: “who the hell are these impostors…the bald guy from England, the cute one with the beard, and the Jewish android.” They also joked that it seems like there is an anniversary every year now (with TNG’s 20th following last years TOS 40th). Frakes then took a dig by saying “next year is the 20th anniversary of the best career choice ever made: Denise Crosby’s ‘I’d like to quit that show now, before it gets really popular.’”
August 2007 features the re-release of "Death in Winter" a paperback release of a 2005 hardcover TNG novel. This release sets up a series of post-Nemesis TNG novels starting in September (just in time for TNG’s 20th anniversary). "Death in Winter" by Michael Jan FriedmanI’ve been reading books for nearly thirty years and reading Star Trek books for about twenty-two years. In all those years, there have only been a few novels that I couldn’t finish. The only reason I finished Michael Jan Friedman’s "Death in Winter" was to write a review.
I had a moment to have a chat with some of the CBS team behind the TOS Remastered project at Comic Con about what’s next (after TOS). David Grant tells TrekMovie.com that they have "had discussions" to bring Star Trek The Next Generation onto high definition. They have also created an HD test for one episode. One concern is the visual effects which were were done in video and therefore more difficult to translate to HD. The team are seeing if the effects can be ‘upresed’ or if they need to be entirely redone (as they did with TOS). Ryan Adams says "that is part of the tests that we are trying to massage and figure out." No decisions made yet on if, when or how, but TrekMovie.com will keep an eye on this exciting potential project.
Kirk v Picard script writing contest video bloggers George Takei and Wil Wheaton reflect on the presidential qualities Trek’s most famous captains. [Hollywood Media Elite Alert: the actors also opine on the current President]
The Kirk v Picard script contest is almost over…all submissions are in for all 4 rounds and the last scene will be decided this week. Wil Wheaton now has an ‘Encore performance’ to his previous (and popular) Kirk & Picard impersonations using lines from the contest submissions. He also does some tongue in cheek Wesley for added fun. Keep track of the goings on at the Official Blog (run by yours truly)
It was the best of comics, it was the worst of comics… The conclusion to IDW’s Star Trek The Next Generation "The Space Between" saga is both disappointing and enjoyable. IDW’s TNG comics have always been a mixture of good and problematic. Neither Issue 5 "Space Seeds" or issue 6 deviates from these expectations. IDW comics have a good sense of the characters. Each issues has presented characters that are familiar to their television versions. However, the situations they deal with and the narratives of the issues are problematic.
In a new video for the Kirk v Picard Script Writing Contest George Takei and Wil Wheaton talk about their favorite episodes. Takei’s pick is "The Naked Time" and Wheaton’s favorite is (as an actor) "The First Duty," but said "Inner Light" was his favorite as a fan. In a second video Wheaton answers some fan questions showing off his true nerdiness, and also acts out some classic Wesley dialog from the KvP script writing contest. Video courtesy of Fanlib, Clips form CBS
Things are progressing over at the Kirk v Picard Script Writing Contest. They are about half way through and just picked the round two scene. finalists. In a new video Wil Wheaton actually acts out some of the moments from the round one finalists, including part of a scene written by TrekMovie.com contributor James Heaney (wowbagger). Wheaton hams it up, but also pokes some good fun at Wesley. Is Wil trying out to be the new Kirk? Keep track of the goings on at the Official Blog (run by yours truly)
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."
Last weekend Patrick Stewart dropped by ITV’s Parkinson to talk about life back in the UK. TNG’s Picard stated that his return was permanent and that by the time he was offered the opportunity to return to the English stage had had grown "bitterly homesick." Although he did not mention Star Trek specifically, he did seem to be derisive of his time working in Hollywood. When I went to do all this exciting and thrilling work in Hollywood, and remunerative work too, and sunshine and palm trees and all of that, it was fun but there was a substance that was lacking in it. Because what I’m doing now is all that I wanted to do and I increasingly began to feel panicked.
The editors of Entertainment Weekly magazine have picked what they consider to be the best 25 sci-fi TV shows and movies of the last 25 years. Two Star Trek items make the top 10: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (#5) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (#8). Topping the list was the 1999 film The Matrix and former TNG/DS9 writer/producer Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica got 2nd place. Star Trek XI producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof also made the list via their show Lost coming in at eleventh place. Excerpts and the complete list below.
Just some little Trek items to tie you over…. The new companion for Dr. Who has admitted that she is more of a Trekkie. The Sun reports Freema Agyeman is a big fan of Patrick Stewart and the Next Generation and has even attended Trek conventions. more at Sun Online… Will Wheaton (TNG’s Wesley Crusher) is getting ready to head back to Trek. Wheaton announced that he will write a story for the next volume in ‘Star Trek: The Manga’ from Tokyo Pop. The actor says he was reluctant when first approached, but then a voice in his head said "Dude, this would be so cool! Come on, man, let’s do this!". more at his blog…
Star Trek’s original associate producer also tells us how he convinced Gene Roddenberry to add Worf to TNG.
During 2007 we will peridically post retrospective interviews, features and found clips to celebrate TNG’s 20th birthday. Here is a BBC interview with Patrick Stewart from a few years ago (edited to just the Trek bits). He talks about how he got the job, the choice of Picard’s accent, fandom and the film Trekkies.
The last time we saw Captain Picard he was sitting in space dock fixing up the Enterprise and saying goodbye to old friends after the events of Nemesis. Now that the TNG film era is over, it is up to Trek Novels to continue the story. Riker and Troi have already set off in the popular ‘Titan’ book series, and so Picard must move on without his loyal first officer and trusted counselor. The first of these post Nemesis novels (Death in Winter) was released in hardcover in late 2005, and it focused on Picard/Crusher romance that has been brewing for far too long. That book gets re-issued in paperback later this year along with a slew of new TNG books to help celebrate the TNG 20th anniversary. In the second part of our interview with Simon & Schuster editor Margaret Clark, we find out what is next for The Next Generation.
This week issue 3 of Star Trek The Next Generation The Space Between hits the stores with a story set sometime during season 7. After reading issues 3 & 4 the narrative threads that IDW promised are now becoming apparent. One thematic is that each issue focuses on characters, often one character, with a "A" narrative, and there is a "B" narrative with other characters. The photo covers clue you in to this, with issue 3’s featuring Worf and Troi whose romance is set against the story of the Enterprise crew being challenged by a very cool ship that is a hybrid of a Romulan Warbird, a Borg vessel, and a Federation starship. The issue deals with how the crew must defeat this mystery ship while Worf has to figure out how to balance his romance with Troi with his obligations to Starfleet.
As the 20th anniversary of The Next Generation approaches (on September 28) you’ll start to see more and more tidbits, information, and a general celebration of TNG around the web and here at TrekMovie.com. To get an early start one of our intrepid community members Greg Mefford has put up an Entertainment Tonight clip of TNG’s announcement back in early 1987. It includes an interview with David Gerold as he writes a season one TNG episode.
Patrick Stewart seems to be continuing to distance himself from Star Trek and Jean Luc Picard. In an interview with The Stage, the veteran actor talks about the life changing event in 1986 when he choose to do Star Trek: The Next Generation instead of taking a role in "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf" on the London stage. I was a different actor after that — doing that kind of play, and finally being able to make truth of an emotional commitment to a role like that in such a small, exposing theatre, with the support of three magnificent actors [Billie Whitelaw, Saskia Reeves and Matthew Marsh], made all the difference to me. The calamity that then happened to me was that I was offered Star Trek: The Next Generation. […]It did change many, many things, and I’m immensely grateful for that. I have worked hard not in any sense to feel they were wasted years —though time is a factor in all of this, and I now have a lot of catching up to do. I feel that acutely — not that there have been lost opportunities, but that there are things I might have done and I’ve got to do a lot of them quickly now.
2007 is the 20th Anniversary of Star Trek The Next Generation, and IDW is planning to celebrate by setting their first Star Trek comic in Jean Luc Picard’s time. IDW is the latest inheritor of the Star Trek comics license (after being owned by both DC and Marvel over the years). The six issue series titled "The Space Between" spans the TNG era, with the first issue taking place in season 1 and the second during season 5. IDW have assigned an experienced team with writer David Tischman and Casey Maloney doing the artwork. Considering that IDW has experience with comics based on media items (such as Transformers and 24) it is no surprise that fans should be hopeful for the future of Trek comics. TrekMovie.com got a chance to speak to IDW editor Dan Taylor and see the first two issues and we like what we are seeing (and hearing).
In the latest issue of Star Trek Magazine, Brent Spiner (Data) talks about the last Trek movie, Star Trek Nemesis. Not only did Spiner star in Nemesis, but he co-wrote the story (along with screenwriter John Logan). Spiner on why the film failed We worked on the story with the intention of making it for the fans. With every Star Trek movie prior to that we tried to find a way to bridge the gap between the fans and the general public. Even reading the latest quotes from J.J. Abrams about the next movie, it makes sense for the movie to be as inclusive as possible. With Nemesis we said, ‘Forget that! Lets make a movie for the fans, because that’s the people who actually go to see the films.’ And what happened? They didn’t go! Usually the films opened big, even if they had a lot of competition, but Nemesis didn’t even do that. This was a message from the fans that they were done with us.
A few months back this site (when we were called ‘The Trek XI Report’) and TrekWeb reported on some comments from Marina Sirtis (article here). The actress had some rather negative views of the executives at Paramount and J.J. Abrams plans for the franchise. The quotes were taken from publically available transcripts of an online chat she held with fans. Gustavo Leao of TrekWeb is now reporting that she has posted a new message to her fans voicing concerns about this: I have always thought that the chats I have with my fans are private to us and I never imagined that anyone would then take any information I divulged and post it on another site. What I tell you guys is for us only. My feelings on certain topics such as Shatner were never intended to be made public. To be honest I feel utterly betrayed.
Brent Spiner (TNG: Data) is already on record as being against the prequel concept for Star Trek XI and now he is also questioning the ability for Trek to again break out to the mainstream. In an interview with FilmFocusUK, Spiner jabs at JJ Abrams and Paramount saying that they spent too much money on Mission Impossible III. He then questions whether they will do the same on Trek XI And that’s the big fear with this Star Trek movie because this new regime at Paramount; I don’t know that they understand the franchise. Maybe [Abrams] will be able to do it, maybe he’ll be able to bridge the gap between the fans and the general public, but everyone’s tried to do that – that’s always been the intention – and they’ve never been able to do it. They’ve realised that if you spend any more than fifty million dollars on one of these movies you’re going to lose money. There are only so many fans that are going to go. If they come along and make an one-hundred and fifty million dollar movie they’re going to have problems. But I think he could be the guy to do it. He’s a perfectly capable guy and his shows are fun and he seems to know what he’s doing.
In April G4 TV created a new way to watch the Original Series called ‘Star Trek 2.0’. The new format presented the show in a ‘window’ surrounded by ‘interactive content’ in the form of chat, trivia, stats and a stock market type ticker called a ‘Spock Market’. Trek purists consider it butchery, but apparently it has been their top rated show amongst the key young male demographic. Now G4 is announcing that they will do the same for TNG with the launch of the somewhat redundantly titled ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.0’ in January. More info at G4.
Jonathan Frakes (TNG: Riker) seems to be one of the only ‘Next Gen’ actors who is ok with JJ Abrams plans to go back to the TOS era for the next Trek film. But in a new interview with IF Magazine he still thinks that we will eventually see some of the familiar faces from the recent Trek shows, and makes it clear he is ready as well. iF: Do you think there will ever be a return of NEXT GENERATION crew in one form or another?FRAKES: I think probably, they’ll use STAR TREK actors from different crews, based on whom they can get and whom they’ll want to use for a story. I think the audience really likes to see people again whom they have identified with. I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to use some of us in something. iF: Sort of like you coming onto ENTERPRISE for the final episode?FRAKES: Yeah. Marina [Sirtis] and I are always available.
The man who directed two out of the 4 TNG era Trek films seems OK that their reign is over. In an interview with the Indiana Star Jonathan Frakes (TNG: Riker) admitted that he doesn’t know anything more about Trek XI than what is rumored, but didn’t understand those fans who are against a Kirk & Spock prequel: Seems like a perfectly good idea. . . . (The movie’s producers) just need to remember Gene Roddenberry’s vision It is good to see that he hasn’t joined the chorus of other TNG actors (Sirtis, Spiner and Dorn) who are slamming Star Trek XI for its rumored premise (and presumably for not including them).
Just in time for Halloween, LA Theatre Works present the classic radio play ‘War of the Worlds’ performed by a whole bunch of Trek stars. Lending their voices are John de Lancie, Gates McFadden, Leonard Nimoy, Dwight Schultz, Armin Shimerman, Brent Spiner: and Wil Wheaton. de Lancie, a LATW regular, directs. It was originally aired last night on KPCC in Los Angeles. No word yet how many Angelinos thought aliens were actually attacking Grovers Mill, New Jersey. It is available online for free until Nov 4, after that it will be available for purchase. [Listen with RA ]