Alex Kurtzman Gives Massive New Update on the State of Star Trek

Alex Kurtzman - Executive Producer and showrunner of Star Trek: Discovery and head of the Star Trek franchise at CBS - sat down for a lengthy interview with Deadline’s Crew Call podcast on Sunday. In the interview he covered a wide range of topics, updating fans on the state of almost all the new Star Trek development currently in the works.

TrekCore.com did an excellent run-down of the interview, and I’ll recap some of their highlights:

  • First up: Star Trek: Picard. Kurtzman said that Sir Patrick Stewart has been hands-on with the writing of the series. He called it “a wonderful give-and-take” collaboration, saying, “I think we’ve found a story that honors everything that people love about the character, but in ways that are not what you expect — and yet, become more and more familiar as the show goes. And that’s what’s exciting. A lot has happened to Jean-Luc Picard in the intervening years [since Nemesis]. [...] He’s made choices that he’s not necessarily feeling great about — and yet I think the audience will understand exactly why he made them.”

  • Talking about the third season of Discovery, Kurtzman revealed that they are writing episode 5 as we speak. He also mentioned that Erika Lippolt and Bo Yeon Kim, who are writers on both Discovery and the new Section 31 show starring Michelle Yeoh, have started the story for the latter. Kurtzman says they are planning to start shooting “the second” they’re done with Discovery season 3.

  • Moving on to the upcoming animated series now, and Mike McMahan’s show Lower Decks is coming along nicely. Kurtzman said, “Mike’s show is really for kids, I would say, from 11 to 70. What I love so much about the way Mike is doing is planning things. What would typically be the ‘A’ story on any [normal] Star Trek episode is happening in the background [...] No [Trek] show has ever really done that before.”

  • Contrast that to the new Hageman brothers’ animated series for Nickelodeon. Kurtzman said it will be “entirely different from Lower Decks”. But that it could bring an entirely new energy to animated TV. He explained, “Animation is in an incredible, glorious renaissance right now. Between [Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse] which just blew everything open and everything Pixar’s been doing for so very long, I think what I’m excited about in the world of animation is to try all these different things to see what feels Trek.”

  • Kurtzman also discussed Short Treks...we were promised two new ones after Discovery ended, and Kurtzman confirmed that they are on their way, plus another four that TrekCore notes are likely to arrive in the run-up to Discovery season 3. Two Short Treks will be animated, aimed more at kids. Kurtzman echoed his previous sentiments of trying things out with Trek, saying, “What I love about the Short Treks is that they are an experimental training ground, a place to experiment with different things. Directors who we’ve never worked with before, tones we’ve never tried before.”

On the subject of the Star Trek franchise as a whole, Kurtzman took time to explain some of his strategy for the next five to 10 years, and how he convinced CBS to invest in that longer-term strategy. He said, “I went to CBS and I said, “I think you have a universe here that is very under-utilized, and a fan base that I think is hungry for a lot more.” And I walked them through the plan of what I saw for the next five to ten years of Trek.” He emphasized the need for the franchise to grow over time and focus on reaching a younger audience while retaining existing fans. He said, “If you really want Star Trek to reach people, then you’ve got to start young. [...] We are definitely seeing just metric proof that the fan base is growing, and it’s growing younger — and yet, we’re keeping our current fans, and that’s great.”

And of course, never one to end without a tease, Kurtzman did talk about the idea of a Pike and Spock spinoff show. He said, “the idea of bringing Ethan [Peck] back, and Anson [Mount] and Rebecca [Romijn] and the Enterprise, I mean, we loved it so much, and to find a way to do that is definitely something we’re thinking about.”

If you have an extra 42 minutes to spare, I highly recommend going and listening to the whole interview, available on Deadline’s Crew Call podcast.

Alison Pitt