Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We've Never Gone This Way Before

A whole new cast in the glare of the spotlight. Hollywood veterans. For a movie. Months in the making and countdown.

When you think about it, after 43 years of viewable Star Trek productions, we’re now in a place Where No One Has Gone Before.

Sure, Trek's certainly had its share of movies, new series casts and first-time producers. But I’m wondering what the “morning after” for this mix will be like, no matter how great the performance—and I don’t think most fans or industry watchers are following through that far.

First up, let's be straight: Like most every other watcher by now, I’m pretty convinced JJ’s new movie will pack a wallop, both with the box office and mainstream pop culture—and most hard-cores fans will be along for the ride.

But consider: All prior Trek movies have been “icing on the cake” for a TV show cast that earned them—both original and TNG. For good or bad, all the films to date have been adventures in search of achieving a big-screen bang with characters and actors we already knew. Almost no exposition—visual or verbal—was ever required.

This time, it’s a whole new ball game. Sure, we know the characters—unless the mostly confirmed plot format alters even that, and we only mostly know them. But for the new actors playing those old roles, well … let’s say I was curious when J.J.’s casting news dribbled out. Sure enough, his actors went of a true feature film line-up, not those open to a TV run follow-up.

Now consider II: For the most part, there is and was no established “Star Trek HQ” of creative staff and support folks yielding up this work. For the first time since Harve Bennett’s pre-TNG films, Star Trek ‘09 is proceeding like any other nomadic movie crew: certain departments are hired up and show up on-lot as needed, and then go away again, as needed. As is the nature of the biz, they close up shop and go on to the next project—cast and crew alike. The ongoing honchos involved don’t even all office at Paramount.

So, come 2009 and there will again be no full-time Star Trek “presence” at Paramount, save someone in Home Entertainment—with even Bad Robot concerned with a host of other projects too. No still-standing sets or offices to tour through or sneak peeks at.

Most of all, these actors will not have to depend on these roles—and they certainly aren’t in the middle of a seven-year TV run to promote. For now, anyway, while you’ll see their beaming faces all over at promo time next May, I’m betting they’ll be absent from standard convention slots fans are so accustomed to. They will likely love this movie—and the next ones—and their fans, and what they do for their careers… But as film actors they will likely be out doing just that, trekking the studio-meeting circuit rather than the con circuit.

I’m just sayin.’

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