December 16, 1999
By Franklin Harris
This is just a filthy rumor, and I shouldn't touch it. In fact, it will probably have been disproved by the time you read this. But it is too delicious, too scandalous to pass up:
There is mutiny afoot on the starship Enterprise.
The good news is this: There are forces at work seeking to dethrone producer Rick Berman as head honcho of the "Star Trek" film franchise.
As Paramount's Trek overseer since Gene Roddenberry's death, Berman has run Trek into the ground, giving us flops like "Star Trek: Generations," "Star Trek: Insurrection" and "Star Trek: Voyager," the last of which has only recently begun showing signs of being watchable.
Most "Star Trek" fans, it is safe to say, think the franchise needs new blood. Some, myself included, would say it even needs a rest. But barring a hiatus, getting rid of Berman -- at least from the films if not the TV shows -- is a positive step.
Now the bad news. The duo seeking to replace Berman are none other than Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner, "Star Trek: The Next Generation's" Capt. Jean Luc Picard and Lt. Cmdr. Data, respectively.
As news of this rumor swept the Internet, it was greeted with jubilation by many. Could it be true that two of the most beloved actors in the Trek franchise were riding to the rescue? That Picard and Data were going to save "Star Trek?"
Well, yes, I suppose. But remember: This is the bad news. As the rumor goes, the idea Stewart and Spiner have pitched to Paramount is to (1) get rid of Berman as Trek's film producer (yay!) and (2) base the upcoming "Star Trek" film (the 10th in the series) on the last one, "Star Trek: Insurrection" (boo! hiss!).
This is why Stewart and Spiner are actors, not writers.
Now, would someone please explain to me why anyone should want to build the next Trek film on the ruins of the last one, which is quite possibly the worst of the series (and yes, I do remember "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier")?
Keep in mind that the lame romantic subplot of "Star Trek: Insurrection," which involved Picard and some woman he just met, was at least partly Stewart's idea in the first place.
Here is a kooky idea for the suits at Paramount: forget both Berman and the Stewart/Spiner mutineers and hire the guy who saved Trek the last time it was floundering -- Nicholas Meyer.
As the director of the far-and-away best Trek film, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," Meyer helped Trek recover from the damage dealt it by the plodding mess of a film that was "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."
He has saved Trek once and, if willing, can do so again.
If Berman, Stewart and Spiner object, then that is their tough luck. Stewart and Spiner have been saying they want to leave Trek after the next movie, anyway. I say, "good riddance." Promote Picard out of the captain's chair and turn Data into a toaster. Maybe then Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden and the rest of the Next Generation cast will finally get the screen time they deserve, instead of being relegated to walk-on roles as they have been for the past three films.
No wide release
Miramax will not be giving "Princess Mononoke," director Hayao Miyazaki's animated masterpiece, which I reviewed here last week, the wide theatrical release it deserves.
Shortly after my deadline last week, the Anime News Service reported that Miramax's test screenings in Minnesota flopped. So, you'll have to wait until "Princess Mononoke" hits video to see what you're missing.