TNG Cast, Crew Look Back on 20 YearsBy Michelle
September 26, 2007 - 10:16 PM
Entertainment Weekly has included a mini-magazine with this week's issue in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation and has interviewed many of the cast and crew about its success.
The EW web site offers an insiders' view of the series' development, with such revelations as the fact that Gene Roddenberry strongly resisted casting Patrick Stewart as Picard and Denise Crosby's admission that had she known how important the show would become, she would not have asked to have Tasha Yar written out during the first season.
"In the mid-1980s, Paramount realized that they were making zillions of dollars on this old television show and if they had a new one, they could milk the cow again," recalled producer Bob Justman. Justman suggested that Roddenberry watch Blade Runner to see the evolution of special effects, and Roddenberry asked Rick Berman to join the production team.
"Gene was very open to innovation, to looking at things from original angles," said scenic artist Michael Okuda. "He knew the feelings he wanted to evoke, but he didn't necessarily visually know how to evoke it." Okuda felt that rather than having a lot of "blinky, flashing lights" like the original series, they would do better to "go in the opposite direction. I wanted to show that this ship was so advanced that it was simple."
The cast told the familiar story of how the characters of Tasha Yar and Deanna Troi were switched around, with Berman explaining that Jonathan Frakes was only the studio's second choice for Riker but the first choice, a bigger name actor, failed at his studio audition. Justman was enthusiastic about Stewart after seeing him perform live, but according to Berman, Roddenberry said, '''I'm not going to have a bald Englishman in his 40s become my new captain.''' Eventually he was persuaded.
Roddenberry warned John de Lancie (Q) that the actor had no idea how fame would change his life - though de Lancie did not know who Roddenberry was at the time. "He said, ''You have no idea what you've gotten yourself into.'' I said, 'I don't know what you're talking about,'" recalled de Lancie. None of the actors liked their very tight suits, but they quickly became friendly.
"Midway through the first season, I told Paramount I was going to retire. I'd accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. Star Trek wasn't a fluke," concluded Justman.
The original article is here.