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Exclusive Interview with Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray Producer Robert Meyer-Burnett

By: Ben Gourlay | Editorials in HT & Movies | Posted: Jul 26, 2012 8:46 am
Manufacturer: Paramount

TT: For forthcoming seasons of the Blu-ray, are you going to continue to produce the extra features?


Oh, absolutely. And the idea was, that Roger and I had was that when you watch the documentaries, it's one ongoing story, and in season two for instance there was the writing strike going on, so they only made 22 episodes, including the Shades of Gray, that ridiculous flashback clip show that they made and then they also had to dip into the scripts that were written for the aborted Star Trek television series from the mid 70's.


TT: Yeah, Phase 2?


Yeah, the Phase 2 series. As a matter of fact I'm doing an interview tomorrow with Judy and Garfield Reeves-Stevens who were producers on Enterprise and have written some of my favourite Star Trek novels and they also wrote the book on the Phase 2 TV series, so that's interesting as well and then also the departure of Gates McFadden, who was replaced by Diana Muldaur as Dr. Pulaski, and what went on there. So these are all very interesting stories. Today, I just finished a rough cut where I sat down and moderated a conversation with the entire main cast of The Next Generation, at least that survived at least one season so there's no Denise Crosby in this, but everyone else; the main eight characters, I sat down with and it's kind of this rollicking, free-wheeling conversation about Star Trek and their lives and no one's ever really done that before, and I'd never done that before as a special feature, and it turned out pretty great. I mean, I think season two would be worth buying if that was the only special feature on the disc, because you really get a sense of who our cast really is, and it's pretty funny. I mean, they truly love each other. These eight people have been talking about the show, they were thrown together 25 years ago and still seem to be having as much fun today as they probably were having back then, "˜cause one of the things you learn when you're working on this stuff is the cast and crew of Star Trek were having a phenomenally good time when they were making the show and it's really infectious to be around them.




But yeah, we've got plans, we're doing this thing in the future, I think it's going to be on season three or season four, we're doing this piece called Episode 179: Inside The Writers Room, where we're gonna get Ron Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame and Brannon Braga and Naren Shankar and René Echevarria into a room and they're going to take us through the process of breaking a story. The idea that we pitched to them is if All Good Things was not the last episode of the show, and you guys had to come up with another episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, take us through this process, and let's write an episode here and show us how it's done. Because no one's ever really documented how a TV writers room works, and that's something I'm really interested in seeing. CBS home Entertainment is pretty happy when we throw them all these ideas, they're like "well great guys". As long as we don't break the bank in terms of our budgets, they're allowing us to do whatever we want. We're just thinking stuff up and doing it.


I'll give you an example; on season one you'll see an interview with actor Stephen Macht, who people might remember from being the sheriff father on the movies like Monster Squad and things like that. Well I'd been directing a TV show stateside called Femme Fatales, and he was in a couple of episodes of Femme Fatales, and I had met him on set and when I interviewed Rick Berman, both Rick Berman and Dorothy Fontana separately mentioned the fact that Gene Roddenberry wanted Stephen Macht to be Captain Picard. He did not want Patrick Stewart, it was Bob Justman who wanted Patrick Stewart and I said "well I'd never heard that before" so I called Stephen Macht up and it's sort of, for me it's a weird thing to do because you don't know how actors are going to feel talking about the parts that they don't get, especially parts that become iconic and part of the world wide pop culture lexicon, but he was willing to talk about it, and one of the things that I thought was really interesting was listening to him talk about where he was as a young actor and the choices he made and one of the things I figure about that it's a great Star Trek story that no one had told, but it's also a story, a cautionary tale about anybody who wants to get into the entertainment business and act and do things like that. So I think that one of the great moments in the season one set is hearing him call himself a putz for not taking the job of Captain Picard, not reading for the part, not reading for John Pike, the head of Paramount at the time. And when do you ever see that? You don't hear those stories on special features, so I was pretty happy about that.

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