William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge (2014) Movie Script

Gene's ideas about the future
and about man, are wacky doodle. Red alert, shields up! David Gerrold:
He was a flawed man. He had great virtues,
he had great flaws. I thought Gene was going
to come across the table at me. I saw first hand Gene's
battling with the studio. Rick Berman:
Gene was considered somewhat
of a pain in the neck, he was kind of a blustery guy. D.C. Fontana:
Gene wasn't the easiest
person to get along with but he stuck up for his beliefs
and his concepts. It was just a lot of
in fighting-- it was all chaos. Ira Steven Behr: There was
really scary stuff going on. There's a lawyer going around
looking in people's desks when they're not there. Brannon Braga:
I spent the first
couple of years just worried I was
going to be fired. Sir Patrick Stewart:
My agent was the first person
to talk to us. There wasn't a hope in hell that
this show would even make it
through the first season. William Shatner:
This film is about
the turbulent years that marked the beginning
of Star Trek: The Next
Generation. How it got off the ground and survived the chaos
of the first three years. I became fascinated
with the struggle, not only the creative struggle, but the struggle for power. Those doors are opening up
on Stage 6 where the bridge for The Next Generation
was first constructed. Power is an ephemeral;
it's what is perceived. In order for power to exist
it has to be acknowledged by the people who
are involved in the work. What I began to see
was Gene Roddenberry the creator of Star Trek aging and
in diminishing health trying desperately to hold on
to his creative vision, his legacy, and ultimately
his power. Hurley:
Roddenberry had
an incredible loyalty, he was very loyal
to his friends. No, Gene screwed over
all his friends as well
as his enemies. You know, he had
a lot of demons. He was very perceptive,
had a high IQ. Gene was a historical
revisionist. Creative and contributive
and collaborative. - Very intimidating guy.
- His good nature. He could be a bully. But he was a nice man
and was a generous man. Gene had a way of making you
feel really good about yourself. He could inspire people
to do better than they believed
they were capable of. I just found him
a decent man. And had a lot
of worldly experience. A bomber pilot in the Pacific,
decorated Pan Am pilot
world wide. I had great arguments
about philosophy and
all sorts of things. He was a really
remarkable man, I thought. Gene was fun... but then later as things were
not going as well I think he got
sour. There's this twenty year
in the desert for Gene. He's the forgotten man. Fontana:
The things that didn't happen were disappointing
and very saddening. His wife Majel would go
to the conventions and they would sell
memorabilia and make
some money that way and that money helped
sustain him. When you're out of work
as a writer in Hollywood and you can't find it,
it's a difficult life. I guarantee you he had
a difficult life between Star Trek
and the first movie. We get back together
for Next Gen and for him it's like he's been called
back out of the desert and given a position
of power again. At the time Gene
Roddenberry was considered somewhat of a pain in the neck,
he was kind of a blustery guy who was not very agreeable. Everybody else forgot him after
Star Trek the motion picture, this epic disaster. Every aspect of it
got out of hand, this was a runaway train. He wasn't trusted
with anything. He had been relegated
to being the executive
consultant on the movies. They paid him very well. I think that
may have been enough. He had a big corner office
in the Hart building. He pretty much spent his days
in correspondence with people from
all over the world who had become
Star Trek fans. So they gave him this emeritus
status and he was a "has been." Arnold:
The Summer of 1986,
a special summer, Star Trek 4 about to come out,
twentieth anniversary
about to happen, and everything seemed
to be building towards
this peak. The studio had decided
to start developing
a new series. - Without Gene.
- Without Gene. The president
of the television group
was a guy named Mel Harris. He called me one day
and he said, "We're gonna do
a new Star Trek." The studio came to him
and said we want to start
a new series. Gene wasn't all that excited
about doing another Star Trek for Paramount. And so created this series
and Gene went, "Whoa, wait, no." He saw the studio
as an adversary. Gene and the studio,
it was a war. It really was. Gene says,
"No you're not doing
Star Trek without me, it's my property."
Gene had the power. Arnold:
They weren't
going to proceed, And he said, "Well,
damn it I can do it." Finally, after years
of trying to convince him to do a new Star Trek series,
he agreed. He didn't mean
to go in there and come out with
a new series in development. He was looking forward
to retirement in just
a couple of months. Gene agreed and we had a very, very
contentious negotiation with Gene's lawyer
from Bullhead City by the name of
Leonard Maizlish. Oh, Leonard. Gene's wacky attorney. Who, in himself, could be
a movie of the week. ( chuckles ) He was not the nicest person
in the world. A lot of people
hated Leonard. I can recall one day when
Leonard was almost clutching his chest and I'm
saying, "I hope you die." I personally never
had problems with Leonard. Gene wanted to be
the good guy so the lawyer
got to be the bad guy. Leonard was carrying the wrath
of Gene for all these years because Gene felt
he had gotten screwed
on the original series. Paramount owns the rights.
There was never any dispute
about that, but Gene Roddenberry
is the creator of Star Trek. Gene had as much celebrity
as the show itself. I actually thought he was
imperative to the DNA of a successful reboot
of Star Trek. So, what happens? I needed Gene Roddenberry
and I needed to make a deal and Leonard Maizlish
knew exactly where he had me. Pike:
Look, his job was to represent
Gene Roddenberry, and as tough as he was,
he did a hell of a job
at doing that. We made the deal giving Gene
a compensation package that was sufficient
to Gene and to Leonard. Paramount would still own
the property Star Trek, but Gene would take
his fair share out. And by the way... it was a handsome share. So, Gene said yes
to doing a series, and then suddenly he's startled
by his own statement. Yeah, I don't think
he was prepared for
what that meant. And he wasn't a fit man. Gerrold:
Every weekend Majel
would pour him onto the train and send him to La Costa
the facility where
they'd dry him out. Because of the drinking, because
of the recreational drug use, he needed to clean himself up. Which he did, over the next
couple of months. As everything
was being worked out, the I's were being dotted,
the T's were being crossed. Now it was decided, all right, Gene, you will
assemble your team. Does anybody have a concept
at this point? No, they had no cast,
they had nothing. Do you go back and conceptualize
what this show is? Gene brought in almost
immediately, Eddie Milkis, Bob Justman,
me, Dorothy Fontana. Arnold:
People that he had trusted
and relied on heavily during the original
series production. We began to meet
at lunch time at the Paramount commissary,
in the private room there. Gerrold:
Everybody in the commissary
would watch us walk in and walk into the executive
dining room. "There goes a hundred million
dollar deal on the hoof." And it was fun,
it was really fun. Arnold:
The fans you would have thought
would've been Gene's biggest supporters,
absolutely not. I think that a lot
of the fans were very verbal about someone taking away
Captain Kirk. Gerrold:
They were angry because
he didn't have Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in
the new series and how dare
he call it Star Trek. I had done a show
called Get Smart Again, which was off of the Get Smart
series, and I think there's a big problem
if you try to recreate,
it's quicksand. Crosby:
When I got this script
to come in and audition for The Next Gen
and I thought, "Oh my God,
I don't know if this is something
that anybody should be doing because it was such an iconic
thing, Star Trek at this point. "You cannot revive an
iconic series, you cannot
replace those guys." This had the markings
of some little seedy... John De Lancie:
It was both really exciting
and also, there was this thing
in my mind of going, "Ooohhhh, are we trying
to create or recreate?" Ronald D. Moore:
In the 1970's people started
saying that Gene was a visionary,
he had this utopian vision
of the future. I think that he started
to believe that and then Next Generation
became a vehicle to demonstrate this utopia. I remember he used to tell me
that L. Ron Hubbard was a friend of his
and that he went and
started a religion. Gene always thought
that if he had wanted to, he probably could have done
the same thing. Gerrold:
He would go to conventions
and he loved being the great bird of the galaxy.
Who wouldn't? He gave college lectures
for years in the 70's and tens of thousands
of people would show up
at these lectures. He was starting to believe
his own publicity. Isaac Asimov sent Gene
a copy of his book called
Asimov's Guide to the Bible. Gene got very
interested in learning
more about humanism. Shatner:
The research prior
to The Next Generation lead him to have a thesis that,
if not perfection, man was evolving
in a humanist way. In The Next Generation
he tried to impart his humanistic philosophy. Most science fiction
that we experience today is a relatively dismal view of what the future's
going to be like. Gene was obsessed with
the idea that the future
was going to be better. There was tremendous
anticipation because it was the rebirth of this
phenomenally successful series. Barry Diller had this idea
of starting a fourth network. Pike:
And he wanted to take
Star Trek and use that as the corner stone
of a new network. We had the commitment
to do the new series and we assumed it would be
a twenty-six episode commitment. Well, at the eleventh hour
they cut that to thirteen. I can't make the numbers
work at thirteen,
I need twenty-six. I'm not sure what to do here, but let me go explore
the other three networks. It was a science fiction
show and at that point in the mid eighties there was no
science fiction on television. First, I went to NBC,
to Brandon Tartikoff,
it was dismissed out of hand. I then went to ABC
and Brandon Stoddard, and he thought it was
simply a bad idea. The third meeting was with Kim
Lemasters, President of CBS
Entertainment, and he said let's do it
as a mini series. Well, that clearly
doesn't work. It is then when we went back
at Paramount. Lucy Silany who was
President of distribution said, "Wait a minute, I can
give you twenty-six episodes. Why don't you produce
the program and we will take it out
in first-run syndication." Well, nobody had ever done
a program like that in
first-run syndication. Tell me what first-run
syndication is. First-run syndication is
programming that is basically sold market by market,
station by station, on independent stations,
wherever they wanted to place it
or on network stations outside of the so-called
prime time which is
eight to eleven. So, all of a sudden
we went from a corner stone
for the Fox Network, to this new hybrid for
first-run syndication and by the way, Gene Roddenberry
believed we were going to do
a network show. The studio, I think it's
in their manual, tells you that the director,
the producer and the studio are always going to be
loggerheads about something. Because they have
different needs? Because they feel that
that's how they can control the cast,
the budget. This was a low-budget
television show and it had enormous
expectations. How did you know that? Star Trek has always been
a low budget production. And Star Trek always has
enormous expectations. - Yes.
- I see. Berman:
The first meeting that I went to
in Roddenberry's office, the big discussion was
whether it would be a one-hour or a two-hour pilot. Roddenberry wanted it to be
a one-hour pilot, the studio wanted it to be
a two-hour pilot, and it was a big,
blustery argument. Pike:
The premier episode,
we have to make a splash with, and that must be
a two-hour episode. Roddenberry didn't want
to do a two-hour. Pike:
I thought Gene was going
to come across the table at me, "We're not doing a two-hour
and I'm not writing a two-hour." And I said, "Gene, quite frankly
if you do not do this, I will bar you from the lot.
We are going forward with
a two-hour. I don't know who's going
to write it, and now everybody
is looking around the room and nobody is saying
nothing. I'm looking to my left
where my bosses are, I'm looking to my right,
where the syndication
people are. There's poker being played
right here. And nobody is backing me
because when I said, "I will lock you out of this
lot, I'm not kidding you." What were you thinking? I'm thinking what if
he gets up and walks out, I'm screwed. If this program were not blessed
by Roddenberry, we would've placed the franchise
in serious jeopardy. These millions of dollars
are hanging on his, yes, to a two-hour. Pike:
And it's more like tens
of millions of dollars, it's a lot of money. All right,
so you were bluffing. I was bluffing. Holy cats. And he knew
I was dead serious. - But you were bluffing.
- I was bluffing, he blinked. - You play poker?
- Occasionally. I was asked to come in,
by Gene, and he said, "Would you write the pilot?" And I brought
in Encounter at Farpoint. So I was writing introduction
of the new Enterprise, the new crew,
the new captain, obviously. David Gerrold:
Then he says, "I have to add
thirty minutes to the script because the studio
wants my name on the pilot." which was a lie. Gene wanted Dorothy
to write the two-hour script. She said she couldn't do it, she said I can't in less
than two weeks. Gene on the other hand,
could write very well
under pressure and he came back the next week
with Encounter at Farpoint,
the two-hour story, which introduced
the Q character who was not in the original
story that Dorothy wrote. Fontana:
Q was so totally different.
It was like he was thrust into that story and
I like John De Lancie, I thought he did
a wonderful job. And Q came back
in other stories. Right, it has nothing
to do with John. Nothing to do with that but,
it was like this is not what the story
was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be about
the mystery of Farpoint and putting this
new crew together. - He wrote the Q character.
- Yes. And fleshed it out
another half hour. Right. And then said it was a script
by Gene Roddenberry. Well, that went to
arbitration, of course, it was a split credit. Gerrold:
What he had done was he had
jumped her credit. He was now getting
half the residuals
for that episode, and that's in perpetuity. Gene did this brilliant job
of turning this one-hour story into a two-hour story
he wrote half of it, she wrote half of it. He came back with a script
and, to this day, I have no idea what
that episode was about. But there was no way
in the world I was going to give any notes
whatsoever to Mr. Roddenberry. Berman:
One story that is one of my
favorites about Gene had to do with the casting
of Captain Picard. We looked at a whole bunch
of people and Bob Justman had seen Patrick Stewart
give a class or a lecture. Bob Justman went by a hallway
where he was teaching at UCLA and heard this voice
reverberating down the hallway. It was Patrick Stewart. Arnold:
Patrick Stewart who was not
Gene's first choice. In fact, he kind of fought
even reading him first, but Bob Justman insisted,
so Gene did. Bob Justman said,
"You got to meet this guy, this is the captain." And Gene met me and
I understood some time, some time later, that Gene
said, "Absolutely not. This guy couldn't be
more wrong." Gene said I'm not going to have
a bald English man playing the new Captain Kirk. And I don't think
he quite understands the nature of my background
and where I'd come from
and what I'd done, except that I was this guy
who had a lot of classical
theatre experience. But Gene respected that. It's final casting
and it's Gene and I, Rick Berman was sitting there.
I had my vision, my vision was,
I want Bill Shatner. I want a good looking guy
who's young and virile. We were down to three actors:
Mitch Ryan, was number two, Roy Thinnes was number three, and the one that
I thought was interesting
was Yaphet Kotto. They were all but despairing
of finding a captain. This is silly.
Patrick is by far the best
person that we've talked about and Roddenberry said I'll have
him read to the studio and this
was John Pike. He said I'll have him read
but he's got to wear a wig. Patrick had a toupee
that was in England. It was FedExed across
to Los Angeles, and it was
sent to me in my office. He went to read along
with one other actor because you never went
with just one actor. Patrick did a really good
reading but he had a British accent and he had a
really, really bad toupee on, and Gene says you know,
that number two guy, that Patrick Stewart guy,
let's bring him back. And they grabbed Patrick
as he was on his way out and he had already taken
his rug off. Bring him in and read him
bald-headed. Well, Patrick Stewart,
one of the baldest heads
in the world, I mean, there's not a hair
anywhere. And he comes in and
he reads it and he nailed it. And Gene said,
"We got him." And I said,
"Gene, he doesn't have any hair, we can't make the Captain
a bald guy." And he looks at me and goes,
"Hair doesn't mean anything in
the twenty-fifth century." ( laughs ) And it was remarks like that
that there was no way
you could counter. And the next thing you know
Patrick Stewart got the job. Stewart:
About two weeks before
we started filming, I say, you know,
"Come on, Gene, give me stuff. I want background..."
and all of this. And he said, "No, there's just
one thing I have for you." And he fished down and brought
up this pile of these Horatio
Hornblower books, and said, "There he is,
that's your man and the rest
he left up to me. It was brilliant
he didn't tie me down to anything at all,
except he said that, "The nature of the man
is in this character." Gerrold:
We were having great fun
until December of '86. And, about February,
Leonard Maizlish moved
in full time, and things started
to go to hell. He came on the lot
and got his own office. When we went into production
the first season. Even though he was
the executive producer's lawyer, he would hand me scripts
saying these were notes
from Gene, but I knew Gene's handwriting
and they were not notes
from Gene. The writers got ahold
of this knowledge that Leonard Maizlish,
who was not a Writers
Guild member, was working on scripts. Here's a guy who'd never
written a word in his life and he was telling writers
how to write Star Trek scripts. And this is very much
against the Writers Guild. My agent took this stuff
to the Guild, and the Guild filed
a grievance and Leonard Maizlish
got banned from the lot. But then he kind
of snuck back in again. We'd gone to lunch,
we'd come back, Leonard Maizlish had snuck
into people's computers. I see that Maizlish
hovering around my room, opening the door,
peeking through like to see
if I was in there. And I just said,
"Is there something I can
help you with, Leonard?" And he leaped
about a foot and a half. I think he thought
he was speaking with
Gene's voice but I don't think Gene
ever heard the way
he spoke to people. Nobody liked him. Gene had these wonderful
relationships with people who had worked on
the original series
like Dorothy Fontana, and Leonard was horrible
to Dorothy. In particular,
I didn't like him. Leonard Mezlish was running
around hiring people: Maurice Hurley, Bob lewin,
neither one of which knew
anything about Star Trek, but were immediately promoted
above me and Dorothy. Why are people being
promoted above us? We are the ones
who should be the show
runners, the producers here. I found him to be
an unsavory character. He's standing right next
to an open window, no screen, no anything, and I'm
thinking it would be so easy to push that bastard
out the window... it would
be so easy. Say it again. "David, go do it. Go push that
bastard out the window, they'll give you a medal." Pike:
I remember there was
this huge screening in the executive conference room
at Paramount Pictures, and all the hitters,
and everybody that was
important, and up we put on the big screen
Encounter at Farpoint. Everybody looked at it and they were visually knocked
out at how stunning the two-hour looked. As I had looked at it
and wondered what is this about, what in the world is that thing
that looks like a big jellyfish? It didn't even really have
an ending and it was a smash. Did you realize that
The Next Generation it was possible
to characterize it as Gene Roddenberry's
dream of heaven? I would never have thought
that at the time, but now that we're talking with
his conception of the future and human beings in the future,
and Q, Q is God. I mean, just look
at the character, look at
everything about the character. Gene was a well known atheist,
but he invents Q. Typical, so typical. Savage life forms
never follow even
their own rules. As I sit here
it's pretty startling, God's a character,
a literalized character, On Star Trek
The Next Generation. - By an atheist.
- By an atheist. Very interesting. Stewart:
I had never filmed in Hollywood
in my life before. I had no ambitions to
film in Hollywood. I didn't know how to wear
these costumes, I didn't know how to speak
or move or sit, but I was going to work
and work and work and work. I would always be prepared,
I would know my lines when
I came on set. Frakes:
Sir Patrick took
the work very seriously, and if we fooled around,
which we would do, we, meaning the Americans
of the cast, and if he was not in the mood
he would let us have it. Stewart:
I thought there was
a lack of concentration and focus on the set. That people were taking
this far too lightly. We would sing and we would dance
and we would wrestle. Bill! You're acting
like you didn't do this? - No!
- Oh, Bill! Okay, so here's 6
of the 7 of you are singing and dancing. No. Maybe not
at the same time. Sackett:
People did not realize
the closeness that we had. We did have a long lasting,
personal, very intimate
relationship that developed
over fifteen years. This was his final chance
and he knew it pretty much. That this was his last gasp
because it is hard to go back
to do something you had done
twenty years before. He was feeling the need
for some support and he wasn't getting it
from anybody except Maizlish. Once Leonard Maizlish was there, I wasn't even invited
to meetings anymore. So, it was like, okay,
I no longer have input on
the show, why am I here? We keep hearing Maizlish's name,
what was the magic there? There was none. No, but why was he there? - To help Gene.
- In what way? To keep him protected. I wouldn't say that he was
the puppet master of Gene, but Gene was not just
having his doubts about his ability to write,
but he was also having
some health issues. Gene started experiencing
a series of mini strokes. But it was one meeting
when the other producers and I, and Gene were in,
Gene got up to turn and he literally
went in a circle and
slammed into a wall. Gene's energy level
was so up and down and Gene's direct activity
with the show was so mercurial
it was all over the map. By that time Gene was... his condition was deteriorating
worse and worse. And people were being fired
left and right, and screaming matches
in the hallway, and all kinds of insanity
was going on. And so the leadership
that you needed from your executive producer
was not there. We were shutting down sometimes
because there was no captain of the ship
at that point. - There was a power vacuum.
- Very much so. Hurley:
I get a call from Paramount saying come and meet
Roddenberry, we want to consider you
as a writer for Star Trek:
The Next Generation; I said that's a joke,
that's a joke. But I want to meet Roddenberry. Who wouldn't wanna meet
Roddenberry? I was coming off two cop shows. I was coming off Miami Vice,
very good show. Equalizer, very good show. So he gives me
the first episode to rewrite. We pass each other
in the hallway four or five times a day,
he won't look at me. Apparently Gene didn't like
what he wrote. It was probably the first time
we heard them battle. And he raises up
behind his desk, this great bird-like creature and he points his finger
at me like this and he says, "You don't know
the difference between
shields and deflectors." And that went on for weeks. What did that say to you about
what you were confronting? He didn't want me,
Hurley the writer. He didn't want me
to write me, he wanted me
to write him. Hurley:
Gene's ideas about the future
and about man are wacky doodle. He sees us now in our infancy
where we just gather
and accumulate like a three-year-old in a crib,
that's mine, that's mine, give me this, you can't have
that I need this, I need that. He believed that mankind
in the twenty-fourth century had resolved all conflict
between themselves. That developed between
the first Star Trek and the second Star Trek. Gerrold:
Back in the 60's, Gene
wanted to be the womanizer and always gets
the beautiful woman and always punches out
the bad guy and always wins. And in 1986, Gene is not
going to be down there on
the front lines punching, but he will be the all-seeing
advisor, the wise man. Gene's conception on Next Gen is almost heavenly in that everyone's at peace. Hurley:
It takes away everything
you need for drama in Gene's wacky doodle
vision of the future. Shatner:
The real trouble in year one
is the dictums, how to get a
good script out. If you tell a writer
that the characters can't
have conflict between them, you're just cutting
his legs off. Some writers chaffed against
Gene's vision of a better future where there was no conflict. The essence of drama
is conflict. There was no evil. There's no money anymore. There was no jealousy. There's no fighting anymore. No separate individual
goals or ideas. We couldn't negotiate. No tension, what? I liked the dramatic
constraints it put on
me as a writer. Really? Well, I had to find new ways
to tell stories. When you look at
the original series there's a lot of conflict
between those characters, They argue a lot, and crewmen on the Enterprise
are yelling at each other. If our people are perfect
and have no conflicts or problems between them,
there is no story here. We would walk around
in each others' offices going, "I don't know how
to write about that, I don't know how to write
about perfect people." That was Gene's vision
of Star Trek: The Next
Generation, take it or leave it
and work within it or don't. The dictums gave the writers
a lot of stress and struggle, and then in most cases,
Gene would just take the scripts
and rewrite them. And these writers
were not used to that and that was very frustrating
and a lot of writers left. And the turnover
that first season was thirty writers and staff
members left the show. The first season of a TV show
with that kind of turnover? There was a writer
who wrote an episode, he was a huge Star Trek fan,
he was so excited. Gene called him to say
congratulations and Gene
told him how great it was. The next day Gene came
to him and said, "I'm sorry, friend, but we're
going to have to part company and he thought,
"Oh my God, Gene
is leaving the show." And then found out
the furniture in his office had been moved into the hallway
and that's how he found out he was fired and he lasted
about a week. Crosby:
I know that the fans were
always surprised that this wasn't some glamorous,
red-carpeted, money-thrown-at-us affair. - On the first year.
- On the first year. Your trailer was so bad
you didn't want to go
back to it. It had no air
conditioning. No bathroom, no wash basin,
no telephone. They were those little
Jerry Lewis boxes, remember on the steel wheels? Things that they dug out
of some back lot that no one had probably
been in since 1953. You remember those? I do, I used to
look at them from afar. Of course you did. We were a syndicated
science fiction series, we were down the status
ladder at Paramount. I would go to Rick and say, "This is how much money we've
got to spend per episode." They weren't throwing
a lot our way in terms
of any perks. If I was in trouble financially,
I could go to Rick and say, "Rick, I need two million
dollars this year.
Can you find it?" And he said,
"I'll get it for you." I used to go and steal food
from the set of Cheers. You mean there were
no craft services table? Not really. Rick at the end of the year...
on the numbers. We would literally have
sliced tomatoes and Cremora. So this made you think what? Well, you feel like the
illegitimate bastard
in the back lot. Hurley:
Gene at this time in
his life didn't really care about the management
of television, it's a sausage factory. You got to turn
out a sausage every day. He would come up with a story,
say this is the story
we want to do, then when that story was written
out, he'd want to tear it up and throw it away.
"Oh, no. I got a better idea." Gene would read a script
three days before shooting and decide he didn't like it. If you throw this story away
because this one is different, but not better,
the machine breaks down. Because this has to go to
the stage and we have to have
something to shoot on Monday. Meanwhile we had
a production meeting and everything had been set
for this episode and suddenly we were having
to make changes. So, I wanted to leave.
He said, "I'm turning
the show over to you." And I said,
"I'll do the show if you leave." And he said Majel and I were
thinking of going to Tahiti. I said, "I'll buy your ticket
and make your reservation." And he left. This trip that they took
had an enormous effect
on the show. It couldn't have been
at a worse time. And that's where Berman
and I took his idea
and ran with it. Rick Berman and Maury Hurley
were trying very hard to respect Gene's wishes
and perhaps they were doing so a little too literally. If in one instance
Gene said, "No that should be blue."
Suddenly everything had
to be blue. Gene had intended fully
to step away and he found
he couldn't. I don't think he realized things
would get so out of control so quickly. Maury got elevated to sort of
the show runner position I was a little surprised
because he had never written any science fiction
in his life, he had done
mostly cop shows. People questioned Maury's
ability to run a room. Maury didn't like the way
certain people took notes. I don't really care
what people think. I mean, when I'm doing what
I'm doing, I don't care. I'm going to do what
I'm going to do and
that's the way it is. First thing he did was
he took Bob Lewin and he moved him to a tiny little
office on the ground floor and took all of his power away,
and I didn't like that at all. I grew up in a show business
family and I've seen all
of the bull shit, and I don't like it. The power pull. The politics and
the back stabbing
and all that stuff. - All for?
- For personal power. Maury was really trying
to stick with Gene's plan, and I think was a lot of
resentment about that too because a lot of people
would come in and they had
their own ideas. And you know Gene
didn't want anybody
to have their own ideas, this was his world. No writer could come in
and give me an idea
that I would accept-- no matter how great
the idea was-- if it broke that concept. I wrote this thing
called Conspiracy and I was intentionally
trying to shake things up and do a different
kind of story. I was the keeper
of the grail and nothing was going
to change it. Maury came back to me
and said it's not Star Trek, it's too dark, it's got a dark
ending, it's unhappy, it's this and that,
and he turned it down. Somebody overruled him and maybe
it was Rick Berman, but somebody loved the script
and that it was exactly what we should be doing, but Maury and I had a very bad
relationship from that point on. Stewart:
In that first season
we'd had Denise go half way through the season
which was just such a screw up. Episodes would go by
and I'd maybe say,
"Aye, aye, Captain." She was such
a popular character. Now Denise Crosby clearly
is not Katherine Hepburn but you know the camera
really loved her. I used to ask them to do
a mock up of my legs and just put them up there
on the bridge. You'd have to
come in for a shot. I was always there,
fifteen hour days just standing on the horse shoe.
The actor inside of me was beginning to chew
on my own arm. And Denise quit after
twenty some odd episodes to become a "motion picture star." When I think about the Israeli
Palestinian negotiations, I think about,
you know, sometimes
they seem to negotiate the way the studio was
negociating with Denise's people and it ended up with her
just going. I don't think
you can sustain a show where the characters are not
accessible to the audience. Where you don't see somebody
over coming a flaw, if there's no conflict and no
tension between people, then there's no relationship
between people and that show
will wither. And that's what
was happening. I tried to make it sustain, I wanted to create
this new adversary, The Borg, I want the Federation
to form allies against this overwhelming,
awesome adversary. At the end of the first season
there's an episode called
The Neutral Zone, which was the arc for the second
season, and the arc for the second season was going to be
here come The Borg. At the end of the second season
they defeat The Borg. Then what happened? Writers strike. End of the first season,
writers strike begins. Couldn't talk
to the writers, couldn't talk to Roddenberry. And the hiatus
dragged on and on and on, it was five and a half months. Stewart:
I remember having lunch
with a couple of executives from Paramount
and they were saying, "It's really bad, and I think
your show will be one of the
first to be canceled it's looking so bad." And I had already adjusted
to the idea that maybe we'd get two or three years
out of this show. Suddenly, the strike
was resolved and we went back and we started the
second season very late, and we started it
without Gates. Shatner:
The end of the first season,
Paramount Studios was more than happy that their
gamble on the rebooted series was paying dividends, but on the inside,
behind the scenes, oh, the in fighting, the chaos,
and the power shifts was about to get worse.
And in the center of it, a man that I've worked with and
deeply admire, Maury Hurley. Shatner:
Tell me the story
of Gates McFadden. She's let go at the end
of the first season and
then she's rehired. Tell me how that happens. At the end of the first season
Hurley became the successor to all of the other
writers and was going to be coming back as the head writer. He felt very insistant
about a new doctor. Gates McFadden:
Coming out of academia,
having done a lot of stage direction, and being
in New York theatre, I was used to you can sort of say what
you think about something,
and you're respected. You fight your argument,
and then you either win or lose. He just didn't like
the way the character of
Doctor Crusher was working out. There'd been a few issues
over that first season about Doctor Crusher's
character, and I think
they thought at times that Gates was a little bit
high handed and you know, maybe being
a little demanding. I never experienced that. I had heard that somebody
said it's either her or me, you know, one of us has to go. She was adored
and suddenly she was gone. We ended up casting
Diana Muldaur who was a pretty well-known
TV actress at the time. That never quite worked. Why? Just didn't get on with the cast
all that well and the character of Doctor Pulaski
never quite solidified. It was awkward
a lot of the time. Muldaur: They were not
that interested in renewing me, and I was certainly not
that interested. When I worked with you
we had scenes, because it was all actors. By the time you got to
Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was a vast technical world that had some characters
placed in it. At the end
of the second season I remember feeling like Maury
was getting very frustrated. Gene would allow things
to come into the show that were against
his own concept, and I would go ballistic. Maury had kind of gotten
the show back to where
it had fallen apart because of the
writers strike. Hurley:
He said, "This episode is good,
I want to do this episode." And then he'd say,
"This episode is crap." When I have to fight Roddenberry
about maintaining the integrity of his concept,
I know I've lost the fight. He didn't seem to want
to be there anymore,
I think he was tired. I think he was tired
of fighting whoever he
was fighting. And egos kicked in
in the second year. Big time. Mine as much or maybe more
than anybody's. I get a call from the set; Patrick Stewart
won't read this line. There was an argument
and it went on a little bit
too long. Patrick got a
little angry. So now it's this. It's the producer
and the actor. And he sort of said if you guys
don't get out of here I'm getting out of here. I say to Berman,
"Fire them all. I'll build the second season
on the absolute tragedy that the Enterprise
exploded by unknown cause. And lost everybody and
now we must find the
new Enterprise crew. Systems are off line.
Core breach is eminent. All hands abandon ship.
Repeat, all hands abandon-- ( ringing ) Rick Berman called me
one day and said, "We've got a problem.
Patrick's very unhappy. He's creatively
not being satisfied. I said, "I'll fix that." I said, "Have Patrick
come over and meet me
for lunch today, I want to make sure
that he is in costume,
it'll be a one o'clock lunch." I happened to have a table
in the back of the executive
Paramount dining room. At one o'clock
the commissary is packed, so I intentionally said
to my assistant at the time, "Maris, let me know
when it's one fifteen."
She said you're meeting Patrick at one o'clock. I said let me know
when it's one fifteen. You're a game player. Patrick walks in promptly
at one o'clock, goes back to the table
in costume, sits down by himself and now
has to wait for fifteen minutes. And I walk up and
I'm out of breath and I say,
"Patrick let's just cut to it. I do know that you are not
creatively not being taxed. You're going to have to bear
with us for a couple more weeks but we've already
put the script in the works and we will write
your character out. Now, I'm looking at an actor
who isn't even blinking. What are you talking about? The one thing I don't want
is my lead actor unhappy. Let's just cut through
this thing, no harm, no foul,
I'd like to thank you. John, that's terrible. Patrick Stewart
and I never had another
discussion after that. I was interested in the
comment that John made because I don't recall
that meeting very well. I recall another meeting,
which was very different. We were advised
by the studio that Good Morning America
would be coming into town, they were going to film on
the set of Cheers and they were going to film on the set
of Star Trek. I said, "No, screw you. We are working
12,14,16 hours a day to persuade people
that we are living in the twenty-fourth century
and we're out in space. They basically said,
"There's nothing to be done, you're just an actor." I said, "Okay, can we
lay down some ground rules?" Taking this stuff very,
very seriously for the sake
of our fans. No gags, no jokes,
no Klingon jokes,
no fooling around. And they said,
"No, no absolutely not. There's going to be
nothing like that." And so I walk onto our set,
the show is going out live, just in time to hear them say,
"And now we're going over to today's weather forecast, now here's your weather man...
wearing my uniform. He's wearing
the captain's uniform. I won't repeat what I said,
but I walked off the set. "We're live, we're live,
you've been announced we're coming here." I said,
"-- you. I'm out of here." I had hardly been home
more than a few minutes
before my phone rang. ( phone ringing ) John Pike wants to see you
in his office at two o'clock
this afternoon. I stood in front of his desk
and was basically read
the riot act. He said I'd let the studio down,
I'd embarrassed the studio, they were trying to keep
it out of the press and we finished the
conversation and I was about
to leave and he said, "By the way, off the record,
I totally understand why you did what you did. And I said,
"Thank you, John." The first best
thing was when I took over Roddenberry's idea. That was the
first best thing that happened. The second best that happened
was when they didn't pick me up for the third year. When I left
the gate at Paramount I was laughing I said, this is
insanity, I have just left the coo coo house. Just go down to
Paramount you'll find a great bird of the universe only no
body knew he was a coo coo bird. Moore:
First and second seasons
of Next Generation are almost unwatchable
in almost all honesty. They're very plot driven
and very alien of the week. The shows are kind of creaky
and don't work very well. But there was some
crucial concepts that were done in the first couple years,
some things that would reverberate through the entire
series. Like The Borg, the idea of Q, the holodeck in my opinion
was Gene's greatest invention in the Next Generation it was very
ahead of his time Making a show is difficult under
any circumstances, especially early on, but
the story telling got sharper. As it went on. As the show found itself. It had the advantage
of having a great brand
behind it before it started. People were giving it
more of a chance to last longer than a show that had no
brand recognition whatsoever. The fan base kept the show
on the air for those first
two rocky years. And that's an amazing
salute to the audience that's out there for
this material. They were going to stick
with it, they were going
to stick with it and believe it was going
to be better. The ship had tilted,
you know, all the way
over on its side already and Rick
was just at that point
tearing his hair out. The first day I walked
into someone's office and they said come
into this bathroom. I used to have a big board
that was in my bathroom. And there on the wall
printed out was the name of every writer who had
gotten fired so far in
the first two seasons. How many names? It was a lot of names
on a show that was only
around for two seasons. I have the third season
fixed in my head as being a time when there
was a change in style. Berman:
Michael Pillar was a writer
who had written on a number of network television
shows and a very rigid producing writer when it came to the
process and he believed that the process that existed prior
to his arrival was a mess. Shatner:
In the context of the way
Maury Hurley ran his room. How was the room that
Michael organized? Ira Behr was sort of his number
two and Ira was the guy in the trenches with us. Michael had never run a show,
Michael wanted me to deal with the writers.
Michael stayed in his room as often as he could to do re
writes. When I finally got a script of my own to write,
I came up with this idea of this pleasure planet. Captain's Holiday,
the visit to Risa it's the only planet name
I actually remember. Patrick kept saying
the trouble with the show is there's not enough f-ing and
f-ing. Fighting and fornicating. And I said I have a feeling
our audience might like to see our captain just getting blown away
by meeting somebody new. The writers were real excited.
Well Rick says, "You've got to go in to see
Gene. So I go in and he's very nice but he says,
"I like the idea of pleasure
planet and I want it to be a place where you see
women fondling and kissing
other women, and men hugging and holding
hands and kissing and we can imply
that they're having sex
in the background. Huh, really?
I'm going, "Oh, man, I'm in
the freakin' twilight zone." I go back to Rick,
he goes, "Pft, pay no
attention to that, just get the
captain laid." I think Gene knew
that there had been this subtle erosion of his
authority and power. The equation moved from Gene,
Rick, Michael to just Rick and Michael, because Gene's health
had started to fail and he was less and less involved. They knew there were
workarounds for things they wanted
to have done. And Michael along with Rick
found a way to make the show work better. Michael refocused the show,
he said this is all about
our characters this is a war story,
this is a Picard story, this is a Data story.
How is this episode going
to affect one of our people and make it a character-oriented
show in that sense? And that fundamentally
shifted the direction of
everything. Michael Pillar who's very
adept at creating conflict between characters
that was so organic that you didn't question it. - Data.
- And what Klingons do
to their children. Data, I am not talking
about parenting, I am talking about the
extraordinary consequences of creating a new life. Does that not describe
becoming a parent sir? Moore:
When I started in third season, we were still the bastard
step child of Star Trek. All we were still getting
was Picard isn't Kirk and there's no Spock. And we were the pretenders
and we weren't Star Trek and there's only one real
Star Trek and that was the one with Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Even though Gene
was running it. How did you feel when
you heard that there was going to be
a new Star Trek? Did that piss you off?
Seriously. I had a twinge. Absolutely,
it was a sense of loss. When I heard Star Trek
and my name isn't
associated with it. I had a twinge to saying,
"You're now the captain
to Patrick." It wasn't until after
The Best of Both Worlds cliff hanger that you felt the
whole thing shift and suddenly we were Star Trek. I am Locutus of Borg.
Reistance is futile Your life as it has been
is over. Mister Worf, fire. But what was genius
is that it took Picard who compared to Kirk was an
administrator more than an adventurer and by cutting him
off and turning him into a Borg it kind of gave his
humanity back to him Making the man more human
and vulnerable and prone to error
and mistake, was a great decision. When I came in, I sensed
that there was a
transition going on. Gene was beginning to phase
out and Rick
was ceasing power. Rick was generous and allowed
me into some of his thinking and some of his long-term
planning and to just talk in a relaxed way about
the future of the series which I'd never really been able
to do with Gene Everybody that
worked there could see the deterioration of Gene is his
walking, his talking and his ability to kind of communicate
had changed drastically When a powerful figure
like a king or an emperor has their faculties erode and
therefore their power erodes that diffusion of power Eventually I think Rick Berman
solidified the power,
he replaced Gene. Gene was clinging to the
world he had built trying to make it the most beautiful
thing it could be. A vision of humanity
and I think he became
far more obsessed with his legacy then he was with his
history of a storyteller. The guy who created Star Trek
why in trains with the stars. As his health failed,
as his faculties were failing
I got sense from a man that things were simply
slipping away from him We had been sitting watching
dailies after lunch and Michael Pillar pulled
every body into his office and every body came from the
set, I knew something was up but I didn't know what it was
and I had a really bad feeling
and he announced that Gene Roddenberry
had died that morning. Shatner:
Gene's passing brought
an end to an era, but also gave a new group of
talented writers and producers an opportunity to take the
franchise to new worlds If we had not shifted
from plot to character in the third season the show
would've continued but I don't think it would've broken through
the way it did. I think it would've been that other series
that they did of Star Trek and I get the feeling that Star Trek
would of kind of stopped there would've been a Deep Space Nine
there would not have been a Voyager and so on and certainly
not more movies. If he had not come back
and done The Next Generation, I think there would
be people that would say that Gene Roddenberry was a very
lucky man who was a failed producer who had one show that
did well for three years and that's what they would
limit his legacy to I sort of discounted him
in a way. Everybody did.
They all did, most people get one shot, have one triumph.
Gene had one, it was elusive and so when this one
came back again. Hold tight. Hold it, don't let it get
away from me. Stewart:
I've enormous respect for his achievements for many of his
unique ideas and beliefs. Berman:
I think he really believed
in this positive vision of what man kind
was capable of. And you subscribed
to that vision? I subscribed to that idea
all throughout all the different shows that we did
because I believed that I owed that to Gene. I think at his best
I don't think Gene wanted the franchise to fossilize into
this, you know, there's
no way out, you've just got to recycle
everything over and over again it was too rich a franchise
there was too many possibilities I should have done this
a long time ago You were always welcome So, 5 card stud, nothing wild
and the sky's the limit Shatner:
The sky is the limit, in it's
seventh and final season, five shows were nominated
for nine Emmys and the series
as a whole, was the first syndicated
television series to be nominated for outstanding
drama series. To this day The Next Generation
is the only syndicated drama series to be nominated
in this category. Not so wacky doodle
after all. ( music playing )