Sci-Fi Storm

Tag: star trek

Paramount/CBS, Axanar producers settle suit

by on Jan.20, 2017, under Movies, Television

We can now say that the Battle of Axanar is over…Paramount/CBS and Axanar productions have reached a settlement in the suit against the fan-produced Axanar film. With things looking bleak earlier this month when Axanar was denied fair use status, so there wasn’t much surprise that a settlement was reached. It wasn’t much in the film’s favor, but it will see the light of day in a shortened form with major modifications, restricted to two 15-minute episodes released on YouTube sans ads (they will not be allowed to monetize the film), along with Prelude to Axanar with the same restrictions. Producer Alec Peters also admitted that the production “crossed the line” and was not approved by Paramount/CBS.

Axanar wasn’t the only loser here though, as Paramount/CBS lost a lot of the fan love they had by bringing on this suit.

The full text of the announcement is here:

Paramount Pictures Corporation, CBS Studios Inc., Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters are pleased to announce that the litigation regarding Axanar’s film Prelude to Axanar and its proposed film Axanar has been resolved. Axanar and Mr. Peters acknowledge that both films were not approved by Paramount or CBS, and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law.

Axanar and Mr. Peters have agreed to make substantial changes to Axanar to resolve this litigation, and have also assured the copyright holders that any future Star Trek fan films produced by Axanar or Mr. Peters will be in accordance with the “Guidelines for Fan Films” distributed by CBS and Paramount in June 2016.

Paramount and CBS continue to be big believers in fan fiction and fan creativity. They encourage amateur filmmakers to showcase their passion for Star Trek. Paramount and CBS will not object to, or take legal action against, Star Trek fan productions that are non-professional, amateur, and otherwise meet the Guidelines, which can be found at http://www.startrek.com/fan-films. Paramount and CBS would like Star Trek fans, with their boundless creativity and passion, to “Live Long and Prosper.”


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Star Trek: Discovery won’t start in May either; signs Sarek

by on Jan.18, 2017, under Television

Well, we thought a May air date seemed very ambitious for a show that hadn’t begun production, and it turns out to be true – we hear from several sources now that Star Trek: Discovery will not make the planned May debut date, which had already been pushed back from the original plan of this month. Production does start next week in Toronto at least.

While CBS has been tight-lipped as to specific reasons, Entertainment Weekly gives two reasons – one, star Sonequa Martin-Green would be appearing on her current hit show, The Walking Dead (at least if they don’t kill her off earlier) and there could be “marketplace confusion”, and also that they are still working on various decisions to be made on directors, visual effects, etc.

No new target date has been set. CBS Television Studios did respond to EW’s inquiry, stating “This is an ambitious project; we will be flexible on a launch date if it’s best for the show.” So they are still behind the show, and determined to do it right and not rushed.

In the meantime a little good news: they signed another actor in a key role – James Frain, who currently appears in Fox’s Gotham. Frain will play Sarek – yes, the Sarek that is Spock’s father. The character was also the Vulcan ambassador to the United Federation of Planets (in the time of the original series) and an astrophysicist. He was played by the late Mark Lenard, who appeared in several of the series and movies (and even once as the Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror”, which introduced the Romulans to the universe.) How the character fits in to the show has not been released.


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Star Trek crowdfunded film Axanar denied Fair Use status

by on Jan.07, 2017, under Movies, Television

It’s been a while since we last reported on it, but the crowdfunded production called Axanar received a setback this week in its defense against the lawsuit from CBS/Paramount, which is still going on.

Axanar, being produced by Axanar Productions, is essentially a fan-made prequel film to the original Star Trek series, telling the story of Garth of Izar, who appears as a character in the original series episode “Whom Gods Destroy”, a former starship fleet captain now held in an insane asylum after he ordered the genocide of an entire species who had helped heal his maimed body, when they refused his offer to help rule the galaxy. Axanar tells the story of the Battle of Axanar, where Garth was pivotal in the victory over the Klingons and his tactics became required reading at Starfleet Academy. Additional backstory for the character appears in licensed novels.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner denied Axanar Productions request for dismissal, on the grounds that the suit was premature because the film is unfinished and falls under fair use, saying that Axanar would need to prove in court to a jury that their production is substantively different from the copyrighted material. Given that they are using a character and situation that is established in Star Trek canon and within the licensed universe, Judge Klausner ruled that Axanar were using copyrighted works, but a jury would need to decide whether they would be confusion to a “lay person” over whether it was a production of the copyright holders.

Last time we reported on the situation, Star Trek movie producer J.J. Abrams claimed he and Star Trek: Beyond director Justin Lin asked for the suit to be stopped, and stated on stage “it will be announced this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project”. But as it turns out he apparently ad-libbed the segment at a Star Trek fan event, fell on deaf ears at CBS/Paramount.


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Star Trek: Discovery may have its Number One

by on Dec.14, 2016, under Television

Could the great mystery be over? Both Entertainment Weekly and Deadline report that The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green has been cast as the lead role on Star Trek: Discovery, so far only referred to as “Number One”, referring both to the character in the original series’ pilot “The Cage”, and the general reference to the first officer. But she may also have a name now – Lieutenant Commander Rainsford. CBS Television Studios has not commented.

Martin-Green has for the last several years played Sasha on The Walking Dead, and reportedly will continue in that role as well.

Now it appears that the production can finally move forward, hopefully making its May broadcast debut on CBS before moving to the CBS All Access streaming service for the remainder of its run in the U.S.


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Casting: Lost In Space gets Don West; Star Trek: Discovery gets Klingons

by on Dec.13, 2016, under Television

The Netflix remake of Lost In Space announced today that they have found their Major Don West in Ignacio Serricchio, who played Miguel in Zoe Ever After and had a recurring role in . He will star opposite previously announced Toby Stephens (John Robinson), Taylor Russell (Judy Robinson), Max Jenkins (Will Robinson), Molly Parker (Maureen Robinson) and Parker Posey (Dr. Smith).

Also today we know who will be playing Klingons in Star Trek: Discovery. Chris Obi will play the leader of the Klingons T’Kuvma, who is trying to unite the Klingon houses (and we know what a hard job he has…); Shazad Latif will play Commander Kol, a protégé of T’Kuvma; and Mary Chieffo will play L’Rell, the Battle Deck Commander of a Klingon ship. We are still waiting to find out who will play the lead role of “Number One”.


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Tidbits: Z Nation renewed for 4th season; Star Trek: Discovery gets more cast

by on Nov.29, 2016, under Television

Hit Syfy series Z Nation has been renewed for a fourth season! Planned for 13 episodes to air later in 2017, the series follows a group avoid zombies (called “Zs”) while they try to transport the only survivor of a zombie bite, Murphy (Keith Allan) to a research facility to hopefully find a vaccine. Season 3 involved Murphy going independent and forming a community of Blends (humans he infected with his own bite that allowed him to control them but also be immune to the Zs. The series also stars Kellita Smith, DJ Qualls, Anastasia Baranova, Nat Zang and Emilio Rivera.

Star Trek: Discovery casting appears to have shifted into high gear. In addition to the casting of Michelle Yeoh previously announced (although we are now hearing her name is Captain Georgiou), Doug Jones (The Strain, Falling Skies) and Anthony Rapp (Rent, A Beautiful Mind) have joined the cast.

Jones will play Lt. Saru, from a new alien species, who is a science officer for Starfleet, while Rapp will play Lt. Stamets, an astromycologist (a space fungus expert…) on the Discovery.

The lead role, a lieutenant commander on the Discovery simply known as Number One (and speculated to later be the first officer of the Enterprise under Captain Pike), has yet to be cast.


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Yes, Michelle Yeoh WILL play a captain in Star Trek: Discovery

by on Nov.26, 2016, under Television

…but not what you were thinking. Deadline reports that as rumored Michelle Yeoh, the martial arts action star from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Tomorrow Never Dies, has been cast as a captain in the upcoming CBS All Access series, Star Trek: Discovery, but NOT as the captain of the Discovery itself. It appears that Yeoh will play Captain Han Bo of the Shenzhou, but will still figure prominently in the first season.

This is the first casting announcement, which is puzzling since the series is set to debut in May, and was already pushed back from January.


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Bryan Fuller steps down as Star Trek: Discovery showrunner

by on Oct.26, 2016, under Television

It seems Bryan Fuller’s rather full plate was too much for CBS Television Studios to consider sharing…TV Line reports that Fuller is stepping down as the showrunner for the upcoming CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery. It appears that there was tension between the studio and Fuller about the progress of the series, having pushed back the debut of the series last month. Fuller is also working on American Gods for Starz and Amazing Stories for NBC. Fuller will still executive produce and be involved, but executive producers Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg will now be in charge. Akiva Goldsman (Fringe, Childhood’s End) will also join in an unspecified capacity.

Fuller tweeted after the news broke and made a Riker reference…

“We are extremely happy with the creative direction of Star Trek: Discovery and the strong foundation that Bryan Fuller has helped us create for the series,” CBS TV said via statement. “Due to Bryan’s other projects, he is no longer able to oversee the day-to-day of Star Trek, but he remains an executive producer, and will continue to map out the story arc for the entire season. Alex Kurtzman, co-creator and executive producer, along with Fuller’s producing partners and longtime collaborators, Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, will also continue to oversee the show with the existing writing and producing team. Bryan is a brilliant creative talent and passionate Star Trek fan, who has helped us chart an exciting course for the series. We are all committed to seeing this vision through and look forward to premiering Star Trek: Discovery this coming May 2017.”

We’ll see how this plays out. Many fans hoped that Fuller would be the one who would see that Star Trek would be back for good on TV.


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Star Trek: Discovery pushed back to May 2017

by on Sep.14, 2016, under Television

The nostalgia isn’t even cold on all the Star Trek 50th Anniversary celebrations, but CBS chilled things a bit, announcing today that the upcoming new series Star Trek: Discovery would not debut until May, 2017, pushed back from the original January target.

There is no indication that there are any issues with the production, but it rather came from a request by the creative team to allow more time for the pre-production, filming, and post-production phases of each episode because “Star Trek deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of,” according to a release from producers Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman.

It seems more like they just realized they needed more time given the scope and needs of the show.

The plan is still for the debut episode to appear on the CBS broadcast network, with the rest of the series available on the CBS All Access subscription streaming service.


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What 50 years of Star Trek has meant to me

by on Sep.08, 2016, under Television

You always remember your first.

I’m not talking your first kiss, or first ice cream sundae, or your first rock concert. In this case, I’m talking about your first science fiction show.

I’m not yet 50 years old, but getting close to it. So I don’t remember when Star Trek first aired. But back in those days where we had just a few channels to choose from and not a lot of competition for your eyes, shows had a second chance at life during the daytime and weekends in syndication. Star Trek was one of those shows that found a second life there, and that’s where Star Trek found me.

I got my love of science fiction from my dad. I’m not sure what it was about the shows, but if Star Trek was on he found it and we’d watch it together. Other shows as well – I still remember watching a mostly forgotten show called The Starlost on a little black-and-white TV in the kitchen with him. I also got my love from old school Disney programs as well from watching Mickey Mouse Club reruns. We watched Lost In Space, Space: 1999 and Battlestar Galactica together. But Star Trek was the first.

Star Trek influenced me in so many ways. Before I was even in school, I could tell you the entire plot of any episode from the opening act. I recorded episodes on audio tape using an old Radio Shack cassette recorder on Memorex tapes. (The episode “Wolf In The Fold” gets really creepy with just the audio.) I even acted out my own episode recorded on audio tape – it was very short and very lame, and fortunately lost to the annals of time…but it did involve a third adventure into the Great Barrier…I’m afraid my skills as a science fiction writer haven’t really progressed much either.

There were two things that always drew me to science fiction – space and technology. Space, because it brought all sorts of cool spaceships but also a vast universe of settings and stories, and the “advanced” technology that was shown. Sure, I know know they were just plastic buttons with lights on a black backing, but they looked cool and I wanted to know what each of those buttons did! The communicators that became our cell phones, the computer tapes that were later mimicked by floppy discs, and now we’re even getting to tricorder technology. Although in many ways our technology has advanced further than what was shown back then, it was what they showed that inspired people to develop that which we have today. Star Trek likely accelerated our own technology from the dreams of the past.

I was convinced I would be an astronaut when I was eight just so I could be in a spaceship like the Enterprise. That didn’t happen, although my interest in the space program didn’t wane. I still have science and space program books from then, showing actual current theorized future space travel systems. My technology interests translated into other areas of science, ultimately into computers, where I eventually got two degrees in Computer Science. But I always kept one eye on the stars.

For a long while though, what was on TV remained on TV and didn’t really cross into real life. Conventions were a bit difficult for me to attend early on, but by the time I got to high school I was able to attend my first real convention in Boston. It only had a couple guests and was a fairly formal affair (it was a commercial convention and not of the much better fan-run variety), but it is where I met the late Jimmy Doohan in person, and not by spending hours in line for an expensive signature or photo op – by him coming down before the convention actually opened and shaking hands with everyone in line! Forever a fan of his with that. He was so gracious and friendly. He was the first TV celebrity I ever remember meeting.

While in college, Star Trek returned to TV in the form of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was living with a friends family, where he and I convinced the family to get cable TV wired to our room just so we could watch it. Star Trek influenced computer programmers a lot. There were always references to it somewhere. The granddaddy of internet forums, UseNet, had several discussion groups dedicated to Star Trek. Early computer games either paid homage or overtly referenced it (such as the famous “trek” game where you explored sectors and fought Klingons.) When the Internet started to grow in the early to mid-90s (yet before AOL was truly online), an early multi-player graphical game called Netrek ate up bandwidth at many universities. I was working at a university at a time running the computer systems and network, and hosted a pretty popular netrek server and was even involved in the International Netrek League for several years.

All through these years, the love of science fiction that started with Star Trek has never wavered. Now I’ve been doing science fiction news, mainly on the TV and movie side of things, for 16 years next month. I’ve made friends in the industry that work both in front of and behind the camera. Now I have two daughters who are eager to see the new movies as soon as they come out, sharing the same love of SF that I did then, watched “The Cage” with me tonight, and I have high hopes that they will continue to do love science fiction as I have done.

I may not have reached the actual stars myself yet, but I still do keep an eye on them.

For the 50 years you’ve been around and the nearly 50 that you’ve influenced my life, a most heartfelt thank you to all of the casts, crews, and fans that helped created and keep going this long trek to the stars.


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