The Star Trek sequel countdown returns with more spy shots from the movie along with some details on which classic villains might be returning to the big screen, plus more non-sequel Trek news including a possible TV show and a look at the new Star Trek: The Next Generation DVDs.
CHARACTER SPOILERS TIME
This week the only non-spoilery Star Trek sequel news is a bit of talk from the new Kirk, Chris Pine, who spoke to Access Hollywood at CinemaCon 2012 in Las Vegas last week, where he offered up the following:
“Of course I’m gonna tell you I think it’s gonna be better,” he laughed. “You pick up the characters from where they left off, and the development of the characters — I think — is just as exciting as the first one. And it’s relentless,” he added. “I think that’s the best adjective I can use.”
“We’re almost done,” he told Access. “It’s wrapping up very soon. It’s just as action-packed as the first one.”
Now to the spoilers...
You have been warned...
Spock (Prime), Khan, and Klingons on screen in 2013
The last few days has seen some big spoilers come out for the Star Trek sequel, or at least new reports confirming or conflicting with previous rumors, so it is always worth it to take things with a grain of salt. First up we start with Leonard Nimoy, who was being interviewed by CNN last Friday at an event in New York welcoming the Space Shuttle Enterprise to its new home (moving from the Smithsonian Museum to the Intrepid Museum). The veteran Star Trek actor was asked if he would be reprising his role as Spock Prime for the 2013 Star Trek sequel and he replied "we are talking." Then mega geek site Aint It Cool News reported that their sources had confirmed that Nimoy was indeed back for the Trek sequel, and I was able to confirm the same with my sources for TrekMovie.com.
Leonard Nimoy hints to CNN that he is in the Star Trek sequel
This bit of news came as a surprise to me and many fans who had assumed Nimoy was once again in retirement and happy to let Zachary Quinto own the role of Spock moving forward. There had also been reports that no original Star Trek stars would be included in this film. Of course the news has been welcomed by Trekkies because, well, it's Leonard Nimoy playing Spock! But there is a bit of controversy amongst some fans in the "Bring Back Kirk" camp who are wondering why, if director J.J. Abrams is willing to dip back into the original actor pool, he didn't take this opportunity to make William Shatner a happy man and give him one more trip into space.
While I sympathize with those who want Shatner back, the problem is that to bring him in as Kirk Prime you have to resurrect him (remember Kirk died in Star Trek: Generations) and then create a story mechanism to transport him to the alternative universe (and before you say it, no the ridiculous Nexus is not going to do it). That being said, Shatner could appear as a recording made before his death and carried into the new universe by Nimoy's Spock, but this idea was rejected by Abrams for the 2009 movie for being too forced.
The next big spoiler are more reports of the consistent rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Khan Noonien Singh, the genetic superman from the past who was featured in the original series episode "Space Seed" and more famously returned in 1982 for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (played both times by Ricardo Montalban). Rumors of Khan's involvement were first reported by a number of sites including Vulture and Latino Review back when Benecio del Toro was in talks for the role. AICN's latest report also taps Cumberbatch as Khan, and my own sources have also backed this up.
This bit of news is actually a lot less surprising than the Nimoy return. The first clue came way back in 2009 when producer/writer Damon Lindelof revealed on the Star Trek Blu-ray commentary that the team had considered a post-credits scene featuring Khan's sleeper ship the Botany Bay, so Khan was apparently always a sort of default villain for them. Then there was Abrams' casting search for a a Latino (Montalban-like) actor and multiple reports from a number of other sites have also been indicating this for a while. And while I may not consider it a rumor anymore, it still is officially a rumor as Paramount is saying nothing and will likely not say anything about this any time soon (or ever).
The inclusion of Khan is a more controversial topic for the Trek faithful, but the main concern for some is that the new team will be retelling stories we have already seen. However, it is my understanding this is not the case. Personally I have always been open to the idea of Khan returning for the sequel, and when speaking about this at cons I have noted how Chris Nolan showed us you can use a classic character and give him a unique spin, like he did with the Joker in The Dark Knight.
One last bit of spoilage is my latest reporting that Klingons will be featured in the movie as well. This has been hinted at and rumored before and is something I have been hearing for a while and so I finally felt I had enough sources to confirm it (again unofficially).
This is also something that is no surprise. Almost all of the Star Trek feature films have featured Klingons, Trek's most famous adversary alien race. In fact JJ Abrams shot a whole Klingon sub-plot for the 2009 Star Trek movie which ended up being edited out and relegated to the DVD/Blu-rays. This time I expect the classic baddies will make the final cut. When it comes to the Klingons there seems to general agreement amongst the fans that this is good news. I am very much looking forward to seeing the new Kirk face down some Klingon warriors.
Volcano planet pix + More wardrobe variations spotted + production wrapping soon
There are also more minor spoilery spy photos from sequel location shooting online. The first set are a follow-up from the Volcano shots shared in the last update (the ones with Quinto hanging by a rope in the Iron Man like suit). These new pics come from Entertainmentwise and show some fake alien red plant life that are said to be from the same planet as the Volcano.
And there are also some more pictures of Quinto in his Volcano suit online (at Movies.UK.MSN.com and Digital Spy).
There are also some more shots of the actors hanging around the location floating around the web. This time the X17 agency (via The Daily Mail) spotted both Zachary Quinto (Spock) and Chris Pine (Kirk) wearing a black shirt/grey pants combo.
The shirt bears the Starfleet logo and is in fact the undershirt for the standard red, gold and blue tunics seen in the first movie. We know that those colorful uniforms will also be featured in the sequel so this new outfit is likely just a variant. It is also possible this is part of the outfit seen being worn by Starlfeet officers in 2009 Star Trek movie, but without the jacket. Many fans are speculating that these grey outfits (with and without the jackets) are what Starfleet officers wear when not on board ship (where they don the more colorful class-style uniforms).
Pushing Daisies Creator Wants To Bring Star Trek Back To TV
Not all the news this week is about the Star Trek movie in development -- there is also another glimmer of a hint that Trek may once again return to the small screen. Writer/producer Bryan Fuller (who created Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, and Dead Like Me) is a huge Trekkie and actually got his start in the business back in the 90s working on Star Trek Voyager. Fuller is currently working with NBC on Mockingbird Lane, his reboot of The Munsters as well as developing a show about Hannibal Lector, but the final frontier is still on his mind. In the last couple of years Fuller has often expressed an interest in creating a new Star Trek TV show, possibly set in the new Star Trek movie universe. He has also talked about collaborating with X-Men director Bryan Singer, who is also a big Trek fan. The two are currently working together on Mockingbird Lane, and in a new interview Fuller gave more thoughts on Trek, saying:
"Bryan [Singer] and I are big fans of Trek and have discussed a take on what we would do, and we would love to do it,” Fuller says. “I don’t think anything is going to happen in any official capacity until after the next movie comes out. And I’m sure it would be wisely under J.J. Abrams’ purview of what happens. He’s the guardian of Trek right now.”
This is encouraging as we have creative (and successful) people in Hollywood talking about bringing Trek back to TV, so this isn't just some fanboy fantasy. However, Trek TV still remains a somewhat risky project. The last series (Enterprise) was cancelled after four seasons by UPN, a network that itself was cancelled when it was merged with The WB to create the CW. While I have always believed that Trek is at its best when on TV due to having the time to tell more complicated stories (over multiple episodes) and develop more character arcs, it is also a harder sell to the execs. While science fiction (including Star Trek) can enjoy success on the big screen, it has not been a big winner for TV. Even cable channel Syfy changed its name from SciFi and they have purged their schedule of space opera, saying goodbye to Stargate Atlantis, Stargate Universe, and Battlestar Galactica in the last few years).
Developing a new Star Trek series would be a much bigger endeavor for CBS (who own the rights to Trek on TV) than your typical new pilot. Being set in the future you have to build more sets, costumes, props, etc. Plus there are all the special effects. So bottom line you have a show that costs more with a market that is smaller than CBS likes to see, which is why they are more likely to crank out more versions of CSI and NCIS than another Star Trek. But if the JJ Abrams Star Trek sequel (and maybe another after that) continue to show how the brand has been revitalized, and with big names like Fuller and Singer knocking on their door (and there are others who are interested too), CBS will likely start to at least consider putting Star Trek back in their front burner sometime before the decade is out, and hey 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the franchise, so that sounds like a good time to me
The cast of "Star Trek: Enterprise" who had their mission cancelled after four seasons in 2005
Of course once you make the decision to bring Trek back to TV there are a million decisions to make with Trekkies often focusing on setting. Will it be in the prime universe, the new movie universe or a new universe? Will it be on a ship or a space station? What century do you set it in (so far Star Trek shows have covered the 22nd 23rd and 24th). And if on a ship, is it a ship called Enterprise? While all of these are critical, I actually think they are less important that issues related to theme, style and approach. Is this a dark and serious show like Battlestar Galactica, or a more light-hearted and campy show like a Stargate SG-1. Is the show more episodic like the original Star Trek (or any modern procedural), or is it highly serialized with a complex meta-story and mythology (like Lost), or something in between (like Fringe).
And even more important are who you bring in to create and run the show. With regards to Fuller, I support the idea of him helming TV Trek. Some of his Star Trek: Voyager episodes were the best of the series (and he was just getting started). He has also shown with Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me a unique talent for creating interesting characters and universes while balancing drama with a bit of humor. And of course Bryan Singer is no slouch either, with movies like X-Men: United, The Usual Suspects, and Valkyrie being exceptional efforts.
There are other well known Trek fan/Hollywood writer/producers who I could also see in the captain's chair, including Manny Coto (formerly showrunner on Enterprise, now working on Dexter). And of course there is the obvious choices of the current Trek movie team of JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Lindelof, but they all have very full plates so even if they (or a subset) were involved with launching a new show, they couldn't be there for the day to day. And I by no means think that CBS need to bring in Trek vets. For example, Liz Sarnoff (who worked on Lost and is currently exec producer on Alcatraz) has expressed a special love for Star Trek.
The bottom line for me is to bring in a team who have an understanding of what makes Star Trek great, but are also capable of creating television that works for a modern audience. The next series needs to be a show for the 2010s and 2020s and not a rehash of the past. If you ask your typical fan when they fell in love with Trek, almost all will say when they were a teen or even younger. While I am not advocating turning Trek into the next tween sensation, if they want to create a (pardon the pun) next generation of Trekkies, CBS needs to look beyond the fanbase and create something that works for multiple audiences, not unlike the approach taken by JJ Abrams his Star Trek movie.
Can JJ Abrams "Star Trek" (and sequels) help set the stage to launch a new Star Trek TV series?
Even more news...details on Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1
As I have reported in past updates, one of the other big projects going on right now is the remastering of Star Trek: The Next Generation in HD, just in time for this year's 25th anniversary of the show (I know! Don't you feel old now fellow TNG fans?). Anyway, CBS has just officially announced that the Season One Blu-ray will hit stores on July 24th. They also released the full set details with disc-by-disc breakdown, revealing that the set will include a number of new special features including a documentary on turning TNG into HD (not an easy process), new interviews and even a new gag reel. Check out my TrekMovie report for the full details.
Box art for Star Trek: TNG Season One Blu-ray
EW also has a clip from the remastered season one episode "Where No One Has Gone Before."
CLICK TO SEE CLIP AT EW.COM
Here are some rapid-fire news bits for you from the world of Star Trek:
On Saturday the entire cast for Star Trek: The Next Generation were reunited on stage at a con in Canada - see full report and photos
The second issue of Morgan Gendel's, online comic sequel "The Outer Light" can be read at TrekMovie.com
A Kickstarter project has successfully funded a launch of Kirk and Picard (action figures) into space using high-altitude balloons.
The MMORPG Star Trek Online was the victim of a hacking attack and the publisher has asked players to change their passwords
Finally, some sad news...Star Trek (and Stargate) composer Joel Goldsmith passed away (read full obit)
The Star Trek Sequel Warps Into Theaters In 371 Days
Anthony Pascale is the owner/editor-in-chief of the number one independent Star Trek site: TrekMovie.com. You can find his Star Trek Sequel column here at Movies.com every other Monday. Follow Anthony on Twitter @TrekMovie.