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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: And is the season two Blu-ray still aiming for a 4th quarter 2012 release??


Yes. Absolutely.


TT: And two seasons every year thereafter?


Yes. That's the plan. It's really sort of interesting because this restoration project is unprecedented. No one's ever done it before. There's three different entities paying for the restoration and the special features; CBS Television, CBS Home Entertainment and then Paramount as well. It shows, I think great foresight on their part that they've even done this. They didn't have to do it. Y'know they could have just said "sorry guys this is how the show was finished, it was finished in 480i, and we're just gonna put it out on Blu-ray as an up-res conversion" and go ahead and do it, but there's people at CBS that had a lot of foresight that said "you know what, we owe it to the legacy of Star Trek and the history of the show in particular, to go back and do it this way, and put it on high definition because that's how it's going to exist for the next 25, 50, 100 years. And I think it's amazing that they did it, and made a commitment to do all 7 seasons.




It showed great foresight on the part of CBS and Paramount to restore the entire series, because everyone knows that season one and two was The Next Generation getting their sea legs and when season three came around and Michael Piller had joined the staff and sort of reshaped the writing room and put the emphasis instead of on external threats he said "look this show needs to be about our characters" and all of the shows writing changed, and became more character centric rather than alien of the week centric or threat of the week centric. If season one didn't sell well and the rest of the shows were going to be based just on the sales figure of the Blu-ray we might have been in trouble, but because CBS had such foresight and said "No, we're going to go all in and we're going to restore the entire series", I think it's great and that we're going to get all seven seasons of The Next Generation and I'm really excited.


I was over at CBS Digital the other day and they started work on season three, I can't wait to see Yesterday's Enterprise, and Best of Both Worlds: Part 1 in HD, and other episodes that I like that a lot of other people don't necessarily think about as their top ten episodes like Who Watches The Watches, which has some great location work, and I love this episode called The Survivors "" I'm a huge fan of that episode, that's the episode where Worf famously says "Good tea, nice house", I mean I love that episode, but I just can't wait and it's looking so great and it's just a joy to watch these episodes, because it's almost like you're seeing them for the first time. When they're done they're like "OK Rob, you've got five more episodes coming to you, I'm like "Wow, this is awesome", y'know, and you put "˜em in and you watch "˜em, it's amazing. I just watched the Outrageous Okona, with Billy Campbell as Captain Okona, and even that episode with Joe Piscopo and Data learning jokes I never liked, but watching it again in HD, I'm like "Wow this looks great "" I'll watch this again! [Laughs]


TT: There's been some speculation that the season two episode Measure of a Man, may be featured as an extended episode, can you shed any light on this?


This is the thing. Melinda Snodgrass, who wrote Measure of a Man happened to have a VHS video tape of an extended version of the episode, that has a lot of footage sprinkled throughout, but it's got extended court room scenes where Picard is defending Data's right to live as a free being and the problem is it only exists as a VHS video tape. That's it. And the question is; should we rebuild the episode, and the use the VHS stuff and drop it in, or can we find all of the negative and recreate the episode? Because a lot of the time they would make these television episodes and they would run long, the first cuts would run long, and they were trimmed down to the final versions, but nobody ever kept them because you'd figure that when you're done being cut down to its running time, it's of no further use. But the writer managed to have this tape, and Measure of a Man is such a great episode that it was our thinking that we might just put this episode on right off the VHS tape, or we might rebuild it and intercut it, kind of the way they did when they originally put The Cage out on video tape, when some of it was black and white. We don't really know yet.


TT: So that decision has not been made yet?


Well, we don't even know if it's worth doing, but we're looking at it now. As a matter of fact, I was just watching it just the other day. It's not been made yet, but it's exciting to have that stuff. It's kind of like the blooper reel. The bloopers that we made use of, there's a blooper reel and then we incorporated some of the same bloopers and different ones into the body of the documentary. Star Trek bloopers only exist because producer Bob Justman used to collect them and put them on a tape and they would show them at the end of the year to the cast. Those tapes, thank God, were preserved in the archives and we were able to make use of them, but that's only because Bob Justman saved that stuff.




And that's another thing, Roger and I went to Paramount publicity, we went to a guy named John Wentworth who's now the senior vice president of publicity for CBS, he worked on The Next Generation as a studio publicist back in the 80's and he had all these boxes of publicity photos and things. He just gave them to us, and we found photographs that we used in part three of the documentary, because we didn't have them yet when we were making part one and part two, but we found all these photographs that no one's ever seen, y'know like of the art department guys on the bridge of the Enterprise, and other things that we found for later seasons. We found all these photographs of Ronald Reagan visiting the set of The Next Generation that have never been seen, and we found pictures of Colin Powell, the secretary of state came to the set and he actually had the nuclear football suitcase, the suitcase that had all the codes to launch our nuclear missiles, he had those. There are pictures of him on set with that nuclear football. There are also pictures of when the cast of The Next Generation were invited to go to the White House and hang out with the original Mercury Seven astronauts. And while they're just photographs, they've never been seen before and because Roger and I are such fanatics and we're always trying to find new stuff, if we get access to it, I wanna see it. So it's great for us, and we want to pass all that along to the fans, so we're always looking for whatever cool stuff that we can find to use, we'll use it.

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