star trek, winding down?

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star trek, winding down?

Postby TerraFrost » Wed Aug 20, 2003 1:10 am

After 37 years, 'Star Trek' may be winding down
By Kirk Baird, Las Vegas Sun

In 1966 "Star Trek" captivated TV audiences by boldly going where no show had gone before, offering a smart sci-fi series with not-so-subtle social commentary of the times.

In the 37 years since its debut Gene Rodenberry's cult phenomenon has spawned a Saturday morning cartoon series, 10 films and four TV series.

"Star Trek" the series has become "Star Trek" the franchise.

But the one-time big moneymaker of Paramount studios is in jeopardy.

The film series is all but warped out, with "Star Trek: Nemesis," the most recent installment, managing a paltry $44 million at the box office the lowest take yet for a "Star Trek" film.

And the latest "Trek" TV show, "Enterprise," has watched its ratings sour like stale Romulan ale. Through June the show ranked 101st, averaging only 2.1 million viewers.

Already there are plans to retool the series for its third year, with the Enterprise crew spending most of next season charting unknown territory to do battle with dangerous new villains.

It's actually gotten so bad for the franchise that Paramount's parent company, Viacom, was sued by game maker Activision, who has a decadelong licensing agreement to turn "Star Trek" into software form.

"Through its actions and inactions, Viacom has let the once-proud 'Star Trek' franchise stagnate and decay," claimed Activision in a statement.

While the companies have since patched up their differences, it's clear to others involved with the series that the outlook for "Star Trek" is not good.

In fact, William Shatner calls the "Star Trek" outlook "somewhat dire."

When asked if he felt the film series was finished, Shatner replied, "I would say so, yes -- at least for the present.

"I think that Patrick (Stewart) doesn't want to do it anymore," he said. "The other cast of 'Star Trek' . . . they have run their race and have made many films -- good ones, I think -- so there's another phase, but we don't know what it is."

But all is not lost for devoted followers of the Federation.

The series still has its hardcore fan base, especially those at conventions. Trekkers are notoriously loyal to the series and to most anyone associated with the series, Shatner said.

"I find that the conventions are like a built-in audience and I treat them like stand-up comedy and work on new material," he said. "It's great fun and you can't fail because they love you."

And while he wouldn't discuss specifics, Shatner said he has an idea for a new "Star Trek" series.

"In fact, I'm trying to interest the powers -- and that has many levels to it -- for me to conceive another 'Star Trek' manifestation," he said. "It would be a concept for a series."

The former Captain Kirk actually made his directorial film debut with 1989's "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," which, until the most recent "Trek" flick, was considered the series' critical and financial low point.

The 72-year-old Shatner placed much of the blame for the film's failings with his then-inability to negotiate with those in charge.

"I think in terms of a political experience for me, I had to play the game with the studio, the producers, with the suits, and I didn't quite know how to do all that," he said. "I didn't know when to stand on principle and when to be politic. That's a very difficult decision in any life, let alone when making a movie.

"I learned a great deal. I probably compromised myself out of a terrific movie."

Shatner, however, wants to correct some of his mistakes. He even approached Paramount about releasing a Special Edition of "Star Trek V" with improved effects, similar to what the studio did for director Robert Wise and his "Star Trek: The Motion Picture -- The Director's Edition."

"I had asked them for money to do some of the special effects over that were not good or extensive or well thought out -- with the ending in particular," he said. "But they said no."

In the meantime, Shatner is preparing to direct a film for the Sci Fi Channel that he has written. Shatner has already written and directed another film for the network, "Groom Lake."
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