In the first part of a multi-part interview, Rick Berman talks about his eighteen years working on Star Trek.
Coming into Star Trek and not having seen the original series turned out to be an asset when it came to Rick Berman as far as Gene Roddenberry was concerned.
“I made it very clear to Gene that I had not watched the original series,” said Berman. “I had seen one of the movies. I’d probably seen a few episodes of the original series at some point, in my pre-college or college period. But it was nothing I was serious about watching at the time.
“Gene was very specific about the fact that my not knowing much about Star Trek was something he was very attracted to. He wanted somebody involved in the production of the show who did not grow up with Star Trek and wasn’t enamored by it over the previous two decades like most of the people who were involved with show. We’re talking about before the (TNG pilot) script was written.”
Roddenberry’s declining health meant that Berman did more, although Roddenberry still kept his hand in. “As the first few years of TNG went on, Bob Justman left the show and Maurice Hurley and I were involved,” said Berman. “And then Maurice left and a fellow named Michael Wagner was hired. He lasted a very short time, and then Michael Piller came on. Gene was comfortable with me taking care of the day-to-day supervision of this program that he’d been involved with for about two years at that point, and he stepped back. He’d come to the office every day. He did a lot of correspondence with people. He and I would talk a lot. He’d read some scripts. But his involvement got smaller and smaller as the months went on. Then he got ill and his involvement got quite a bit less. By the time he passed away, I was, I guess you could say, running TNG along with Michael Piller.”
Berman is currently enjoying traveling, working with his wife, who “teaches non-fiction writing to incarcerated boys at a specific school in Los Angeles,” and is involved with The Denan Project, which “provide[s] free medical care, potable water, agricultural training, education, and other critical services for the people of Denan, Ethiopia and the surrounding villages, and to other impoverished communities in the developing world.”