After writing episodes for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and pitching to producers of Star Trek: Voyager, I knew Star Trek well enough to know all the major players. Back then, it was executive producer Rick Berman who oversaw Gene Roddenberry’s legendary science fiction franchise. Michael Piller, Ira Steven Behr and Jeri Taylor were other talented writer/producers who contributed much to its evolution over the years.
Today fans can only catch television reruns of Star Trek or download the fan films which have been wowing the Internet for the past several years. However, as a constantly evolving pop cultural entity, Star Trek never fails to remake itself and attract new audiences of followers around the globe.
The next important step in the Star Trek saga will come in May 2009. Though there have been many Star Trek films with many talented directors, this new feature film incarnation will explore the lives of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) before they ever set foot on a starship. J.J. Abrams, a Hollywood producer best known for his television series Alias starring Jennifer Garner and LOST has directed this big budget prequel to Star Trek’s original series.
Mr. Abrams began in Hollywood as a feature film screenwriter. Here’s a look at the man who many are calling the new Gene Roddenberry or Rick Berman.
Abrams’ first professional sale was a film treatment which became the film Taking Care Of Business (1990) starring Jim Belushi and Charles Grodin. Next came Regarding Henry (1991) the poignant dramatic movie starring Harrison Ford about an injured man forced to adapt to a new lifestyle.
Felicity on the WB Network was Abrams’ first television show. He co-created the hit which ran for four seasons. The ABC network spy TV show Alias followed and became a big hit. Abrams was now fully confirmed as a hot Hollywood property.
J.J. Abrams didn’t rest on his TV accomplishments. He set his sights on the movies and soon hit the bullseye.
Abrams made a big splash with his feature film directorial debut. It was Mission Impossible III (2006) starring Tom Cruise. Now Abrams was a screenwriter/producer who could also direct a big budget Hollywood blockbuster. Two years before, his TV series LOST got audiences lost in the eerie world of castaways on a mysterious island. Abrams also produced Cloverfield (2008), one of the weirdest sci-fi horror movies around.
Abrams must first finish up his Star Trek feature film to truly see how much fans will embrace this new vision. There’s no guaranteed success for any motion picture, but having the beloved characters that Gene Roddenberry created which have been adored by fans for generations is more insurance than most film makers get. By the same token, the handling of such adored pop culture stuff can be fraught with danger. One only has to look at Tim Burton’s disappointing remake of Planet of The Apes and many others to make a convincing case that redoing a classic isn’t always easy. The trick lies in satisfying the expectations of the fans, while trying to bring something new and different to the equation.
J.J. Abrams is a veteran writer, producer and director. His work has ranged from broad comedy to touching drama to wild spy thrillers and horror. Since Star Trek is such a multi-faceted story telling vehicle, there seems to be no better qualified person up to the job of taking the sci-fi story of Star Trek once more into the future.