A week ago HDNet began showing Star Trek: Enterprise in HD. This makes it the sole source for any Star Trek TV in HD, as the new Trek Remastered is not being broadcast in HD (story). Since they currently have a monopoly on Trek in HD, TrekMovie.com contacted HDNet to see what is next and owner Mark Cuban himself answered our questions about the future of Trek on HDNet. Cuban tells TrekMovie.com that HDNet has spoken to CBS Paramount about the new Star Trek Remastered in HD but they are not interested in the show presently. Cuban did say he was open to HD version of other Trek series (like TNG) in HD if they become available, telling TrekMovie.com "It depends on the response to this series. If we find a lot of people are subscribing to HDNet to see Enterprise, we will of course look for more." But for the 10 Trek feature films in HD, Cuban is ready to go, telling TrekMovie "we are in discussions about them." Cuban and HDNet did not give any further details on when we might see the feature films in HD and our sources within Paramount and CBS are still trying to figure out where in the vast former Viacom empire deals with HDNet are struck.
A week ago we reported how WWME is really running with Trek Remastered, here is a new promo featuring Chicago fans version of the Star Trek opening monolog and theme: Are we seeing a resurgence of original series nostalgia…JJ Abrams is certainly banking on that.
Sociologist John Tenuto shares some preliminary findings from his study of scifi fandom… The concept of the Star Trek fan is a myth.Those attending Star Trek conventions see a variety of people that questions the simplistic view that all Trekkers are the same. Star Trek fans are multifarious in political views, occupation, demographics, and shape. Yet, the myth persists that all Star Trek fans are similar. Similarly geeky. Similarly minded. Similarly shaped. Similarly bereft of social relationships. This is not true. Never has been. Probably never will be.
Week 2 of Trek Remastered gives us Devil in the Dark. Don’t expect much in terms of new space effects with Kirk and a few red shirts hunting Horta. That being said this week will mark a Trek Remastered first with some redone (and possibly animated) versions of the old matte paintings. Check our listings for your station and showime (if your local time is not there then send us a tip to add it). Promos are already airing, here is one from Chicago (thanks to a loyal reader) TrekMovie.com will have screenshots and a review up this weekend, and if you see any promos for Trek Remastered let us know. but you don’t need to wait for that to tell us what you think of Devil in the Dark Remastered.
Because Trek Remastered is syndicated the airtimes are based on the local broadcaster, with the show often being aired in the wee hours of the morning. Some stations are taking a different tack and Chicago’s WWME is a perfect example. Up until recently Star Trek Enterprise showed at 11 am on WCIU in Chicago, the nation’s third largest media market. When Star Trek Remastered was announced Weigel Broadcasting, who had the conract for Enteprise, took it as an opportunity. They decided to move the show to 6pm Saturdays and put it on WWME (also known as ‘MeTV‘) with a rerun on the following Sunday night at 11 pm. "It is a much better time and a pefect fit for MeTV," says Sean Long Program Director for Weigel. MeTV almost exclusively shows reruns of classic TV shows and starting next week Trek will be preceeded by the classic scifi show Lost in Space. "We are really excited about the the show and especially the new effects," said Long. They were so excited about new Trek they issued a press release and have been heavily promoting the show (see previous story). "We expect better ratings for the show in its new slot," said Long. WWME are already happy with the results telling TrekMovie.com that their overnight ratings showing a 550% improvement for the timeslot (previously airing back to back episodes of Batman). "Enterprise never really found its audience, but the classic show is for everybody," said Long. WWME plan on continuing to promote the show and said they would even be interested in showing Trek in its uncut form if CBS made that available.
On Thursday, William Shatner breezed into Richmond BC for an event so far off the radar it didn’t appear on his website’s official schedule. Shatner was in BC to host the first ever Canadian Awards for the Electronic Arts and Animation. Prior to the show there was a "Champagne Reception" and it was here that Shatner fielded all manner of Trek related questions. The press gaggle was on him like an EF Hutton commercial peppering with questions, however Shatner did try to stay on message about Canadian animation. As a result, many of his replies to Trek questions were brief and often showed his trademark sarcastic wit. On how he he celebrated the 40th anniversary of Trek Shatner quipped, that he and "George Takei spent some time alone together but I’d rather not go into details."When asked by one reporter about his years as Capt. Kirk, he said: "I’m all done talking about that stuff." He did say that he thought that the role of Captain Kirk should be played by somebody very handsome, "just like in the original series," being careful not to endorse Matt Damon when the interviewer mentioned his name. When asked about JJ Abrams, he quipped in reply, "JJ Abrams? Who’s he?..is he an actor" — still apparently stinging from the"odourous gas" comments earlier in the week and trying to dodge any further controversy. When asked if he was involved in the production of Star Trek XI he replied "I haven’t been asked for input on the new movie".
IESB is reporting that Matt Damon ‘was quick to say he hadn’t heard anything about it’ in reference to him playing Kirk in JJ Abrams Star Trek XI. Damon’s publicist also told IESB "We’ve never heard anything on our end. I even called Endeavor, Matt’s agency, to see if they had heard anything – they hadn’t. There has been nothing from Paramount and I haven’t heard anything from JJ’s camp." The Damon as Kirk rumor was started months ago by Mark Malkin of the Insider and grew to monumental proportions when (briefly) IMDB listed Damon as being confirmed for the film (story). When TrekMovie.com asked Malkin about this he was quick to point out that he never claimed that Abrams and Damon were talking; only that Abrams was interested. And these latest comments from Damons publicist are essentially the same ones she gave the Wall Street Journal a month ago. TrekMovie.com did talk to a source inside Paramount about this who noted that that no one has been appraoched becuase (as we have reported here in the past) there is no script, no budget and no greenlight yet. So essentially no one can be approached for Star Trek XI formally.
When word of Star Trek Remastered hit the web last week, very often discussion mented the name Daren Dochterman. It was a reasonable to speculate that Dochterman was inovled in the new project since he was the digital effects supervisor for ‘Director’s Edition’ of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and had recently launced TrekEnhanced a site dedicated to the notion of adding CGI effects to the original series. The speculation of his involvement was so rampant that after the official announcement from CBS, Dochterman issued an official statement to tell fans that although he had pitched, he wasn’t involved. TrekMovie.com decided to give Daren a ring and talk to him about his history with Trek and the new Trek Remastered project.
One area that hs been the source of much discussion regarding Star Trek Remastered has been the issue of it’s availability in true HD. The original press releases was not entirely clear and at one point CBS did claim that ‘only a handful’ of stations would be getting Trek in HD. However, when pressed on the issue during last week’s conference call, CBS downgraded ‘handful’ to ‘none’. Trek Remastered producer Dave Rossi stated “Our understanding is the major affiliates don’t have the storage capacity to do anything but live broadcast, so the choice has been made that we’re going to air them in their standard definition" TrekMovie.com has spoken to some Trek Remastered affiliates who say they are fully capable and want the show in HD. CBS acknowledged this in an email to TrekMovie.com, but claimed that these affiliates are only a small minority. CBS did tell us that they would start sending out the HD version ‘once enough stations have upgraded,’ but weren’t specific on what constitutes ‘enough stations’. Now TVWeek have picked up on this issue: But some station owners, who have spent millions to upgrade to high definition, said the "Trek" team’s argument is not, as a certain Vulcan officer would say, logical. "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" are going to be syndicated (by CBS) in HD starting next week, with about 50 upgraded stations on board. And Bill Carroll, VP director of programming at Katz Television Group, said stations want "Star Trek" in an HD format." Stations are looking for as many HD opportunities as they can, "Mr.Carroll said. "You don’t make these kind of investments if you don’t believe there’s an emerging audience."
In their recent press call, CBS said they would give Star Trek Remastered a promotional push. Well that push has started. At a number of Con this weekend (more on that soon), CBS showed a new trailer that they have also put up on YouTube. UPDATE: TrekMovie.com now has a higher res version available as a download …and stations across the country are also starting to show promos…here are a couple from WWME (Chicago)
As mentioned here earlier, CBS was planning on putting more behind the scenes stuff up on YouTube…the two short vids up so far are taken from the same source as the vid put up on StarTrek.com, but some is new
As mentioned in a previous article, the Emmy Award winning team at EdenFX love Star Trek. Although CBS decided to go in-house for Star Trek Remastered, the team are still inspired to play with their Enterprise models. Eden sent over some of their ‘fun shots’ as a 40th birthday present for their fellow Trekkies…try not to drool. NOTE: These are shots being done independently of CBS and Star Trek Remastered. (click on the pics to see them full sized)
CNN have put up an article including 3 video clips of an interview with Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. It appears the interview was done a few weeks ago at the time of the TV Land Launch. One of the questions was about younger audiences accepting the original effects, to which Shatner said that ST audiences “ignore the primitive effects” and Nimoy quipped “the audience is in it for the stories and we had good stories.” Ironically, just yesterday the President of CBS Paramount Television said that it was ‘imperative’ to update the ‘primitive effects’ for the younger audiences. For the most part it seemed hard for the interviewer to get a straight answer out of the pair, but the subject of Star Trek XI did come up. When asked if Paramount should just ‘declare victory’ and stop making new Star Trek, the actors mocked the question saying sarcastically “so you want Paramount to say we’ve made enough money?”. On the notion of Paramount recasting their characters, Nimoy said “I think they should” and again Shatner responded with a joke saying “I on the other hand, resent it totally.” When asked specifically about Star Trek XI producer JJ Abrams, Nimoy commented “he is very talented,” going on to say “We will help anyway we can.” Shatner added “as long as they can meet Leonard’s price.” Again it is worth noting that Shatner and Nimoy continue to talk up Trek XI and take it as a given that their original characters will be recast. They also had some good anecdotes about the animated series and even John Wayne. Check out CNN for the article, partial transcript and links to video. .
This morning CBS Paramount held a telephone press conference with Star Trek Remastered producers David Rossi, Mike Okuda and CBS Paramount Domestic Television President John Nogawski. Although the call covered a number of issues, the CBS team wanted it to be clear that Star Trek Remastered was about improving quality and not about changes to the narrative of Star Trek. “We are not changing the story,” said Okuda “We are passionate about Star Trek and are just enhancing the experience”. Nogawksi discussed their reasoning behind the project saying that with a new generation being brought up with HDTV it was ‘imperative’ that they update the classic series. Mike Okuda said that like Rossi he was initially reluctant, but after he was assured that CBS wanted to preserve the shows original intent he became very enthusiastic. Okuda and Rossi went into detail on how every new CGI shot will mimic the original choices made the original editors and director, right down to the placement of stars. “We think of the original show like a period piece,” said Okuda. The producers said that they have been checking out fan response on various Trek boards and felt that their respectful approach has gone over well.
As with anything regarding Trek, news of the newly remastered Star Trek: The Original Series with new CGI effects has sparked much debate amongst Trekkies, pitting enhancement advocates against Trek ‘purists’. Today on G4’s Attack of the Show, Star Trek Remastered producer David Rossi debated the project with Geek magazine editor (and contributor to the new ‘Star Trek Constellations‘ book) Jeff Bond. Rossi began by saying that he considers himself a ‘purist’ and would have been against the project years ago, but after seeing how younger audiences ‘snicker’ at the old effects he feels the show needs a facelift. “There is no reason why a ten year old shouldn’t be able to to sit down and get immersed into the show and realize that Captain Kirk and the crew and the Enterprise are kick ass,” argued Rossi.
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
Since breaking the story on Star Trek going HD, TrekMovie.com has been trying to get more and more updates to keep answering the questions coming from the fans. One burning question was about the ratio, will it be formatted for HD TVs in 16:9, or as originally formatted in a 4:3 ratio, or both. Many thought that after seeing the Eden test it might be in 16:9 widescreen, but the official CBS photo is in 4:3. Now we have that info and some more directly from CBS Paramount: Ratio: 4:3 (no letterboxing on regular TVs, ‘windowboxing’ on HDTVs) Countries: USA only Episodes/yr: 40 (one new episode per week, with some repeats) First Episodes: “Balance of Terror”, “Miri”, “The Devil in the Dark”, and “The Naked Time” Station List: TBA (only ‘handful’ will broadcast in HD) Runtime: TBA (not original 51 minutes, will be edited down for commercials) New TOS In HD Section There is a new “TOS In HD” page which will have all the details on the new project, it will be updated regularly.
TMR got a tip that was so outlandish yet so detailed that we had to follow it up. We were told that a San Antonio modern rock band called ‘Electric Crush‘ were signed on to provide music for Star Trek XI, and specifically that they would be recording a Star Trek XI music video in L.A. on September 30th. This seemed like a joke and of course Trek XI composer Mike Giacchino has said he wont start working on the score for quite some time, but the tip’s specificity was curious. TMR contacted the band’s manager Keith Chester just for the hell of it and got a big shock when he asked “how did you find out?”. He went on to say, “yeah it’s for the new movie called ‘Of Gods and Men’”…and then it all made sense. Of Gods And Men is the much anticipated new independent (unlicensed) Star Trek movie with a cast and crew that includes a number of former Trek stars and writers. The Trek Report has confirmed the story with Sky Conway the producer and co-writer of the new fan film. Electric Crush will be filming a music video of their song ‘Taking Away’ on the set of ‘Of Gods and Men’ in late September. The song will also appear in at least one of the webisodes and any possible ‘behind the scenes’ DVDs. The first of three Of Gods and Men webisodes will be available in December at an internet near you.
Over the last week The Trek Movie Report has got a number of tips regarding an article in the new Star Trek Magazine titled “Blank Slate / New Film Producers Deny Kirk and Spock Recasting Rumors”. Coming from the officially licensed Star Trek magazine this at first did seem like significant news. A few other websites ran ‘news’ that the Kirk and Spock recasting rumor had been ‘officially denied’, but the Trek Movie Report noticed something a bit familiar to the story and decided to dig deeper. After speaking to one of the editors at Titan Publishing it is clear that the headline was not based on any recent conversations Star Trek Magazine had with any Trek XI producers. Although Titan (who also publish the official magazines for both Lost and Alias in addition to the Star Trek Mag) work with Trek XI and Lost producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof regularly, the editor confirms that they were not contacted for that particular article. “As far as we know Paramount have a policy to not confirm or deny any plot details on Trek XI and our article was trying to convey that” said the editor.
Four days ago we reported Leonard Nimoy had told the Toronto Star ” I do, by contract, have the right to approve the casting” (for a recasted Spock). Well this bombshell ran around the internet and raised 4 key questions: Is this true? Does it apply to Shatner too? Is this an old contract? What power does he (do they) really have? Yes/Yes/No/Some According to a Paramount source it is indeed true: “I can tell you what Nimoy said is accurate, and it applies to Shatner too”. The source also confirmed that no other Trek actor (including ones no longer alive) has the same deal, just Nimoy and Shatner. For the third question, a reasonable assumption would be that these must be old contracts from their heyday in the 80s or maybe during the run-up to Star Trek VI (the last time Paramount considered recasting Kirk and Spock). As it turns out, according to the source, the contracts are brand spanking new and related specifically to Star Trek XI. Which begs the obvious question…why on earth would Paramount and JJ Abrams go out of their way to hand over casting veto power to William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy?
One company that vied for the CGI effects work on the new HDTV Trek project was EdenFX. The L.A.-based digital effects house has a long relationship Paramount and Star Trek dating back to the 90s. The team has racked up a couple dozen Emmy’s for their Trek work, most recently in 2004 for Star Trek: Enterprise. Last year when Eden created a digital version of a ship from Kirk’s era for the ‘In A Mirror Darkly’ arc, fans got a taste of what the classic Trek might look like with state-of-the-art visual effects on HDTV . When word of a new HD Star Trek: The Original Series project started going around town, EdenFX was on the scene immediately. The company quickly put together a bid including test footage (see below). In the end CBS decided to do the initial CGI work in-house. However, EdenFX owner John Gross is still optimistic they can be part of HDTV Trek as the project goes along. CBS Paramount has committed to deliver ‘new’ episodes on a weekly basis, so it sounds like there is a lot of work to do over the next two years. EdenFX Test video (QuickTime – opens new window)
Star Trek’s return to video games this fall has been shaping up to be a fanboy fantasy. Not only will ‘Star Trek Legacy’ feature a story written by Trek vet DC Fontana, it includes voicework from all 5 Trek Captains (Shatner, Stewart, Brooks, Mulgrew and Bakula). Fans could have reasonably assumed that the epic story spanning the entire Star Trek timeline would include some or all of the classic battles from the Movies and TV shows, such as Kirk’s epic battle with Khan in Star Trek II. In fact, the game’s publisher Bethesda has used the Wrath of Khan battle to demonstrate the game at E3 (see video). But Bethesda developer ‘Gary’ has thrown some cold water on this notion, from the official forums:
News of Star Trek: The Original Series coming to HDTV with new CGI effects has swept the interweb today from G4TV to Slashdot to dozens of forums in the geekosphere. The news is promting a lot of questions and speculation; The Trek Movie Report has learned some more details that should answer some of those questions: Broadcasts start in mid/late September No DVD (or HD-DVD or BluRay) release in the near future Episodes will NOT air in the original production order (nor original airing order) First episode will (probably) be “Balance Of Terror“ CGI Trek Videos on YouTube (here and here) are not related to this project TV Land and G4 will continue to show ‘classic’ Trek in standard 4:3 ratio Again since this is not official some details may change when finally announced by CBS Paramount, which should be soon (they only have a few days until Trek’s 40th B-Day!)
Before JJ Abrams gets to bring the TOS era back to the big screen in Star Trek XI, CBS Paramount has a secret plan to get it back on the small screen, but with a makeover. Over a month ago it was announced that CBS was selling a new broadcast TV (not cable) syndication package for the original series. At the time it seemed a bit odd to try selling a 40 year old show to local TV stations, especially after it has just been sold to yet another cable outlet (this time TV Land…home of retro TV). The Trek Movie Report has now learned from trusted insiders, that CBS Paramount are actually offering an HDTV enhanced version of the Original Series with new state-of-the art CGI visual effects.
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”
One of the persistent rumors about Star Trek XI is that it centers on the life of Kirk and Spock at the Academy. The Academy story is not a new one, it was originally proposed by Harve Bennett as an idea for Star Trek VI; the studio eventually went with Nick Meyer’s Cold War themed ‘Undiscovered Country’. Last year the Academy notion came back when William Shatner revealed that he is working on a Starfleet Academy book series with his longtime writing partners Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. He also revealed at the time that he had pitched the idea as a series to ‘top executives’ at Paramount. The Trek Movie Report has learned from a studio insider that the Shat went right to the top and pitched it to none other than Viacom Chairman Sumner ‘Get Tom Cruise Off My Property’ Redstone. Supposedly Shatner went in to Paramount after Star Trek Enterprise became ratings challenged in it’s second year. Shatner believed that Paramount/UPN would replace Enterprise with his Academy show, but they stuck with Enterprise for 2 more seasons before pulling the plug. There are currently no known plans for new Trek on TV. But Shatner still plans on getting his story out there in book form,
In Hollywood, movies don’t truly get started until there is a script. Our studio sources have been telling us that only the ‘story’ (or ‘treatment’) for Star Trek XI has been completed. Now, according to Trek XI executive producer and co-writer Roberto Orci, it seems that Halloween is the target for the first draft of a script with filming starting as early as next summer. Orci revealed the schedule in response to an online query about the Trek XI time frame this Wednesday, saying: Just started writing it. First draft by end of October, second by x-mas and hopefully shooting in summer or fall. If all goes REALLY well.
It looks like JJ Abrams can add ‘graphic artist’ to his growing list of credits for Star Trek XI. Recently our intrepid ‘VegasCon Correspondent’ DavidofLondon picked up an anonymous tip that the Star Trek XI teaser poster was designed by Abrams himself. Today the Trek Movie Report contacted David’s source as well as an additional studio insider who both confirmed this tidbit. One of the insiders pointed out that it is not surprising since Abrams is an experienced designer and even did some of the design work on his debut film Mission Impossible III. It is surprising when you consider that in July Abrams was co-writing Star Trek XI, signed two Hollywood megadeals, co-wrote a script for Lost, and put the finishing touches on the MI:3 DVDs. This shows a serious hands on approch for Abrams. The possible hints he embedded in his design truly make it live up to the description of ‘teaser’.
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