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TrekToday - Berman, Braga Reflect on Trek Development

Berman, Braga Reflect on Trek Development

By Michelle
May 9, 2005 - 9:53 PM

Adding to the chorus of voices theorizing on the end of Enterprise and the fate of Star Trek, executive producer Brannon Braga reflected on the irony that the franchise needed to go away in order to return while New Voyages producer and star James Cawley said that he hoped for a future of collaboration between fan-run projects like his own and Paramount's licensing division.

Zap2It's Kate O'Hare quoted Star Trek: The Next Generation's Jonathan Frakes (William Riker), who guest stars in the Enterprise finale, as saying the show's cancellation saddens him but "I, of course, am the eternal optimist, so I believe it's not over" for the franchise. Executive producer Rick Berman said that he and Braga brought Riker and Deanna Troi onto Enterprise to bring the franchise full circle and create a sense of continuity between the prequel series and the most successful of the Star Trek second-generation spinoffs.

"We were here 18 years," agreed Frakes, looking around at sets standing where those of Deep Space Nine and Voyager have also stood at Paramount. "This whole block is 'Star Trek's' block and has been for 18 years. So the next show that comes in here is going to have all of our ghosts." He noted that he and Sirtis knew seventy-five percent of the crew working on Enterprise from their own days with Star Trek.

"There are about 20 of us who have been working without a break for 18 years," noted Berman. "The fact that this family is breaking up is the part that is the most bittersweet for me."

Braga said that Star Trek breeds successful writers because the show has a challenging quality, but had no answers about when the series might ever return to television. "The No. 1 question I was always asked was, 'Why is "Star Trek" so enduring and popular?' Now I'm being asked, 'Why is it going away?'" He cited franchise fatigue after so many years of success, which he also said was paradoxical.

"More important than the passing of a little-watched sci-fi series on the sixth-rated network...is this fact: When 'Enterprise' ends on Friday, it will mark the first time since 1987 that there has not been a fresh 'Star Trek' on television," claimed a more pessimistic Washington Post, which reflected on how the characters and themes changed over the franchise's long life and concluded that a space series may be losing relevance.

"Brandon Tartikoff was taking over at Paramount and he called me in and said, 'I want you to create another series that we'll air simultaneously with...'Next Generation,'" recalled Berman of the creation of Deep Space Nine. "He said...'Let's see if the climate can withstand two shows simultaneously.'" Berman noted that he was "very verbal in saying we were taking too many trips to the well," particularly when Paramount chose to launch UPN with Voyager in 1995, but nine of the ten movies averaged nearly $80 million each in domestic revenue and fans continued to watch the television series.

With Enterprise, said Berman, he wanted to create "a 'Right Stuff' of space" where exploration was dangerous rather than technologically smooth and somewhat predictable. However, Berman and Braga came under fire from fans for tampering with canon, from the premature existence of photon torpedos to a shift from Gene Roddenberry's idealism.

New Voyages' Cawley, who plays Kirk in the fan-made episodes set in the original series era, said that he financed the first two episodes working as an Elvis impersonator at Six Flags and wished he could reach a licensing deal with Paramount. "It blows my mind that if we charged even a dollar a download, that would be $22 million" for the second episode alone, said Cawley. "I'd be happy to give Paramount three-quarters of that."

Washington Post writer Frank Ahrens was less than optimistic about whether Berman's oft-mentioned proposed eleventh feature film would ever be filmed, for though Berman told Ahrens that the project is in "the normal development process", the journalist notes that the project was taken on by former Paramount Pictures executives Jonathan Dolgen and Sherry Lansing, both of whom have been replaced by Brad Grey. "In Hollywood, orphan projects typically don't have a long life span," Ahrens noted.

These articles are from Zap2It and The Washington Post. Advance reviews of the finale, "These Are the Voyages...", which will air on Friday, May 13th, have been posted at The Toronto Star and TrekWeb.

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