Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Light for a Cloudy Star Trek Future?

by William S. Kowinski

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for Star Trek news---some hopeful, some disconcerting, some just confusing. Much of it suggests more questions than answers.

Some of the news seems to come from the gradually unfolding consequences of both the end of the Star Trek franchise as we’ve known it for some 20 years, and of the latest corporate changes for Paramount. In the world of Star Trek, Decipher, the company that published the Star Trek fan magazine since 2001, announced it was closing down its publishing and the Communicator with it.

Then Paramount announced its Digital Entertainment division was also shutting down, which put the future of the official site, Startrek.com in doubt.

Both moves seemed related to the splitting of Paramount and Viacom into two separate entities. With Paramount in charge of movies and Viacom in charge of television (and books), nobody seems to know who will be in charge of Star Trek, and its future movies and television, if any. (So far, there hasn’t been a disruption at Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, which does Star Trek books. They’re part of Viacom.)

Then came the startling news that Paramount is buying the studio Dreamworks SKG, which means among other things that Steven Speilberg will be making movies and developing projects for Paramount. His science fiction blockbuster of last summer, War of the Worlds, was a Paramount and Dreamworks co-production.

Like the rest of this news, the most that can be said now about the Paramount deal is that it could be good for Star Trek, or it could be bad. It could mean a more powerful and aggressive Paramount, with new producers and directors of some clout and taste, with experience in successful sci-fi features. Or it could mean that the Trek franchise gets lost amidst bigger deals and priorities.

There seems to be hope that the apparently bad news for the Communicator and Startrek.com will have a happier ending. Larry Nemecek, managing editor of the Communicator, is convinced his magazine will continue publishing, but is being affected by the Paramount/Viacom confusion. In the meantime, Eugene Roddenberry has indicated interest in Startrek.com.

What apparent good news there was had to do with the potential eleventh Star Trek feature film. Within a couple of days of each other, news stories quoted Patrick Stewart as revealing that he had been part of serious discussions about a new Trek film to be made a couple of years from now, and Bryan Singer (director of the first two X-Men films, and the upcoming Superman Returns) indicating his interest in directing the next Trek movie.

These two stories immediately reminded me of Leonard Nimoy saying that whenever Star Trek has looked absolutely dead, it always came back, stronger than ever. Since the hard fate and bad feelings of Star Trek Nemesis, it seemed the chances for a new movie were slipping away, and even if there was one, it certainly wouldn’t be another Next Generation film. Patrick Stewart in particular insisted that he was finished with playing Jean-Luc Picard.

So what does this mean? I don't really know, and I have no inside information. But I can tell you what my instincts suggest to me.

1 comment:

Eric V. Kirk said...

It would be interesting to have a serious director like Spielberg work up a Star Trek movie.