TrekUnited Proposed Season 5 Co-Production Deal To ParamountBy Christian
April 15, 2005 - 7:43 PM
The TrekUnited fan campaign several weeks ago teamed up with a Canadian group of film production companies who have proposed a plan to Paramount to keep Star Trek: Enterprise going for a fifth season, it told TrekToday.
According to documents provided by TrekUnited, since the start of the campaign it has been contacted by several companies who believed they had found the secret to making a profit out of Enterprise, for instance by using new distribution methods or finding new sponsorship opportunities. Eventually, TrekUnited decided to work with a Canadian group consisting of several entertainment companies who have produced a number of major motion pictures over the past several years. This group offered a plan by which Enterprise would be able to continue on TV, either on UPN or on another nework that might be interested.
As part of the plan, the Enterprise sets would be taken out of the warehouse where they're currently stored and rebuilt at a cheaper filming location. This has become increasingly the norm for science fiction shows: Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica are both shot in Vancouver, while production of Farscape even took place in Australia. The costs of producing a fifth season would be shouldered partially by this Canadian group and TrekUnited, and partially still by Paramount. In return, the Canadian group wanted to get a share of advertising income from certain markets, with Paramount retaining all other rights to Enterprise.
After TrekUnited agreed to work with this Canadian group, the group dispatched a producer who was put in charge of turning the plan into an actual proposal, and presenting it to Paramount. The campaign agreed to let this producer handle the talks with Paramount; if the studio were to eventually accept the idea, the primary role of TrekUnited would be to spin the fifth season as a fan-driven revival and thereby generate extra publicity.
TrekUnited says that this Canadian producer managed to get in touch with Paramount last week and presented his idea to a high-ranking executive at Paramount Network Television. While not committing to anything, this executive promised to at least take the idea to the heads of Paramount proper and Viacom. Since then, the campaign has been waiting to hear back from the Paramount executive in order to hear one way or the other whether the studio wants to further explore this proposal.
Several days ago, the official Star Trek site posted a message saying the Enterprise cancellation was final. The news item included a letter that had been sent to TrekUnited a month ago, in which Paramount said they wouldn't accept money from fans to produce a fifth season. In addition, Paramount vice-president John Wentworth categorically denied that any talks were going on between TrekUnited and Paramount (story).
According to the campaign, they are still hoping to find out whether this was Paramount's way of saying they weren't interested in the Canadian group's proposal, or if it really was a case of the left hand not being informed of what the right hand was doing. In any case, TrekUnited representative Chris Wales said they decided to release this information in order to "galvanise fans by showing them what is possible with their efforts," and in order to drum up "fan camaraderie."
Even Paramount agreeing to listen to the proposal from the Canadian production group and TrekUnited does not necessarily mean the plan has a real chance of succeeding. It should be no surprise that Paramount will at least give a group with a multi-million dollar pitch the chance to present their plans, but that is no guarantee of serious interest from the studio.
Paramount has always kept production of filmed and televised Star Trek in-house, and it seems unlikely they would give up control over even part of their longest-running franchise. In addition, while it may be possible to make a fifth season of Star Trek: Enterprise financially viable - possibly even without the input of this Canadian group and TrekUnited - Paramount may have determined it is simply in the best long-term interests of Star Trek to give the franchise a rest for a few years. Finally, major practical problems exist with moving Enterprise to another shooting location. It will take a massive effort to rebuild a production team, and some of the stars may be reluctant to work such a long distance away from their families.
The official web site of the TrekUnited fan campaign can be found at TrekUnited.com. Paramount's official statement declaring the cancellation of Enterprise final is available on StarTrek.com, while the studio's denial that any talks are going on can be found at the Sci-Fi Wire.