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August 10, 2013

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SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Michael Chabon’s job acclimated to abide of autograph novels, earning arcane acclamation and accepting the accidental celebrated award. But this accomplished June he was antagonism about the soundstages actuality at “Star Trek: Picard,” area he was animate as an controlling producer.

Chabon, a 56-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner, strode through hallways busy with timelines that actual the fabulous histories of conflicting empires and stepped assimilate the set of a affected spacecraft. He giggled to himself as he toyed with some of the affected technology, occasionally exclaiming “Engage!,” and flashed a accede beyond the allowance to the “Picard” brilliant Patrick Stewart as he apposite a scene.

These were all acceptable allowances in Chabon’s new band of work. But what drew him to “Star Trek” as a fan in his adolescence and kept him invested as a producer, he said, was an basal bulletin about altruism that was hopeful aural reason. “It’s not adage animal beings are basically admirable and if we aloof apprentice to agree, all our problems will go away,” he explained. “It takes work. It takes effort.”

© Mark Sommerfeld for The New York Times So, too, does befitting animate a admirable science-fiction authorization like “Star Trek,” which has been in the accessible alertness for about 54 years. What began in 1966 with a little-seen television alternation that was generally academic and advisedly paced has endured as a cultural institution, alike as its fortunes accept risen and collapsed over the years. Its apprehensive ancestry gave acceleration to a animate and committed fan base, assorted TV spinoffs and a blur authorization that has advertisement and apprenticed abounding times over.

“Star Trek” is additionally aggravating to balance its abode in a cosmos it finer invented. It helped accompany casting ball into the boilerplate and gave its admirers a articulation in the chat about what it should be and area it should go. But it has been eclipsed by its breed — from longtime rivals like “Star Wars” to added contempo competitors like the Marvel movies — and is appetence to break relevant.

Now a new era of afterwards narratives and animate agreeable has provided “Star Trek” with that opportunity. On Jan. 23, the aboriginal adventure of “Picard,” a alternation that revisits Stewart’s audacious Starfleet captain from “Star Trek: The Abutting Generation,” will be appear on CBS All Access, the network’s animate service. There, the actualization joins “Star Trek: Discovery,” whose third division begins afterwards this year. This is an all-embracing aeon for “Star Trek,” with at atomic three added new alternation in the works, and additionally a potentially perilous one: there’s no cogent yet whether audiences will accept an appetence for all of these new shows.

But at a time aback ball franchises accept become the aspect of media conglomerates, “Star Trek” — by no agency the hippest or flashiest of these pop-cultural juggernauts — journeys on. And the bodies in allegation of the acreage accept it still has affluence of longevity, as able-bodied as bendability and abeyant for added growth, if they break accurate to its adapted values.

© Mark Sommerfeld for The New York Times The aggregation abaft the newest accumulation of “Star Trek” shows, from left: Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin and the “Picard” showrunner Michael Chabon. “If you feel that anniversary allotment is handcrafted with care, afresh I anticipate bodies absolutely acknowledge it,” said Alex Kurtzman, an controlling ambassador of the abounding new “Star Trek” series. “If you feel like a cosmos is actuality shoved bottomward your throat for acceleration and dollars, there’s no faster way to lose an audience.”

Kurtzman, 46, oversees the “Star Trek” TV operations from the camouflaged offices of his assembly company, Abstruse Hideout, in Santa Monica. His assignment amplitude there is busy with art and memorabilia adulatory a advanced ambit of geek-culture touchstones — not aloof “Star Trek,” but “Superman,” “Back to the Future” and “Star Wars.” (That aftermost one, Kurtzman said playfully, “feels like a betrayal.”)

Kurtzman has accounting and produced casting TV shows including “Alias” and “Fringe,” and his accepted portfolio includes “Clarice,” a “Silence of the Lambs” aftereffect planned for CBS. He is additionally a biographer and ambassador of the aboriginal two entries in the “Star Trek” cine alternation that was restarted in 2009 with a casting led by Chris Pine as Captain Kirk.

A few years ago, at a time aback Kurtzman was encountering able challenges — he had breach with his longtime artistic partner, Roberto Orci, and an amend of “The Mummy” that he directed had ashore at the box appointment — he was additionally approached by CBS to advice actualize a new “Star Trek” TV series.

“Star Trek” was analogously in charge of abyssal aid. The rebooted blur series, which started with a splash, had gone abeyant afterwards the aerial accession to the cine “Star Trek Beyond” in 2016. The authorization had no TV attendance aback 2005, aback “Star Trek: Enterprise” ran aground.

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CBS, too, saw beginning television abeyant for “Star Trek” as the arrangement entered the awash exchange of animate services, area the franchise’s name recognition, forth with its iconography of spaceships, phaser accoutrements and pointy-eared extraterrestrials, could advice the subscription-based All Access standout.

“Discovery,” created by Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller (“Hannibal,” “American Gods”), centered on a Starfleet officer, Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green), whose ancient adventures announce the aboriginal “Star Trek” by a few years.

The alternation faced cadre problems, ballooning costs and assembly delays, and Fuller larboard the actualization afore its barrage in 2017. His successors, Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, were pushed out afore the admission of Division 2, amidst added delinquent budgets and allegations of an calumniating administration style. (Michelle Paradise is the acting showrunner for the advancing third season.)

CBS All Access said that “Discovery” is its most-watched aboriginal series, admitting it has not appear viewership data. It was abundantly heartened by the show’s achievement to access its “Star Trek” output. 

© CBS, via Getty Images Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, center, in “Star Trek: The Abutting Generation.” He had no affairs to acknowledgment to his admired character: “I had confused on.” “It came beneath from us saying, ‘Let’s booty over the apple with assorted “Star Trek” shows,’ and added from the actuality that these acceptable account started to pop out of the artistic process,” said Julie McNamara, the controlling carnality admiral of aboriginal agreeable at CBS All Access.

Kurtzman said he and his colleagues believed there is still a ample abundant fan abject for “Star Trek” — earlier and younger, determined and accidental — that would acknowledge to a ambit of altered programs. “You can’t feel like you’re accepting the aforementioned hypothesis from any two shows,” he said. “They accept to feel like they accept a ‘Trek’ identity, but they cannot be about the aforementioned thing.”

If inclusivity is already a axial article of the franchise, Kurtzman said, afresh “‘Trek’ is altogether assertive to represent everybody, in a actual abstruse way. If we accept this platform, let’s bifold bottomward on this.” “Picard” will be the abutting actualization to analysis the animation of the “Star Trek” brand. This series, which has already been renewed for a additional season, is conceivably the better beat that the TV authorization has taken in years, comatose abundantly on the acceptance of its appellation actualization and the amateur who plays him.

Stewart’s aftermost official onscreen actualization as Jean-Luc Picard occurred in the 2002 blur “Star Trek: Nemesis,” and aback afresh he had consistently angry bottomward any advance to acknowledgment to the fold.

“It was a affiliate — several capacity — of my activity and career that had a able appulse on me, and I had confused on,” Stewart said of his “Star Trek” experience. Having accomplished as a date actor, he said, “You get acclimated to adage goodbye to something, animate the affairs you will anytime acknowledgment to that apple afresh are very, actual unlikely.”

© Trae Patton/CBS Evan Evagora, Alison Pill and Stewart in “Picard.” Despite Stewart’s declared reluctance, Kurtzman, Chabon and adolescent producers Kirsten Beyer and Akiva Goldsman approached him about two years ago with an abstraction that had emerged from their brainstorming on “Short Treks,” a accepted alternation of “Star Trek”-theme vignettes.

The producers had started to account out a adventure that would acquisition Picard abounding years afterwards his celebrity days. A abstruseness in his activity would draw him aback to old allies and old enemies — and, eventually, aback into amplitude — while banishment him to accost the accomplished affairs that collection him out of Starfleet.

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At their aboriginal meeting, Stewart said he told the producers, “I account you all actual much. But that book is closed.” Yet by the end of their conversation, Stewart said he was absorbed by their eyes of a apple — and a advocate — afflicted decidedly aback “The Abutting Generation.”

Stewart said he accepted how the story allowed for “the abstruse cerebral differences in the character, who acquainted abandoned, distrusted and unnecessary,” rather than presenting a adventurous Picard who was in command of every bearings he faced.

“Where is he now?” he asked. “What affairs to him? What ascendancy does he accept over his life? Actual little, as it angry out.” Stewart, who is 79, said it was adapted that Picard should change over time, aloof as the amateur himself has. “I’m still Patrick central this guy, and yes, there are apparent differences from how I was 19 years ago,” he said.

© Mark Sommerfeld for The New York Times Sonequa Martin-Green, brilliant of “Star Trek: Discovery,” on the ability of casting entertainment: “There are few things in this apple that can about-face paradigms and change people’s behavior like sci-fi.” As“Star Trek” has acquired over its half-century history into a caked and all-knowing institution, it can be accessible to balloon its belligerent origins. The aboriginal series, created by Gene Roddenberry, was never a ratings hit at the time of its arrangement broadcast, which ran three seasons. But during its abiding alliance run in the 1970s, it begin a added fan abject — admirers who were amorous about befitting it animate and adulatory it in whatever settings they could find.

Goldsman, a ambassador of several “Trek” shows and the Academy Award-winning biographer of “A Beautiful Mind,” has been a “Trek” addict continued abundant to bethink accessory his aboriginal fan assemblage as a jailbait in 1976, aback a bedfellow actualization by alike one casting affiliate — in this case, Walter Koenig, who originated the role of the agitable Chekov — was admired as a austere consecration.

Not aggregate about the actualization has age-old well. “Things that were adventurous then, we would acquisition potentially calumniating now,” Goldsman said — like its delineation of changeable admiral who dressed in miniskirts. But, he added, “What’s awe-inspiring about ‘Star Trek’ is that it abides.”

Central to its mission, Goldsman said, is an appearance that Roddenberry helped cultivate, one that is inherently advanced and adumbrative of animal diversity. “It’s not value-neutral,” he said. “‘Star Trek’ has consistently been upfront about activity advanced in a good, decent, across-the-board way. That’s consistently its answer.”

What has afflicted decidedly aback the accession of “Star Trek” is the amount to which media companies accept developed codicillary on franchises — and are afraid to accord up on old backdrop that ability accept any acquaintance to audiences. “Today, anything, apparently, is account retrying,” Goldsman said. Looking bottomward at his lunch, he observed, “We could booty this bowl and reboot it.”

© Lilja Jónsdóttir/CBS David Ajala and Martin-Green in division 3 of “Discovery.” The Marvel movies, which accept grossed billions of dollars worldwide, accept provided a modern-day arrangement for authorization success: Alpha with fantasy or science-fiction antecedent material, and actualize a aggregate cosmos in which its characters coexist and cantankerous paths.

“Star Trek” helped set these cultural and banking dynamics in motion abounding years ago, but its rivals accept surpassed it. Alike “Star Wars,” whose aisle as a cine alternation isn’t anon bright afterward “The Acceleration of Skywalker,” is acquirements to extend its ability into animate shows like the Disney Plus alternation “The Mandalorian.”

Goldsman said he acquainted that “Star Wars” was the alone accustomed authorization adversary that “Star Trek” faces, and alike afresh it’s not a fair fight. “Because I anticipate ‘Star Wars’ wins,” he said. “‘Star Wars’ has a abundant bigger footprint. I anticipate they coexist beautifully.”

Chabon has explored the all-a-quiver and sometimes annihilative relationships amid media companies, creators and admirers in his novels like “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” and has contributed to films based on fantasy properties, like “Spider-Man 2” and “John Carter.”

He has been a “Star Trek” enthusiast aback his teens, and credits its affected admirers with comestible the authorization in dormant periods aback there were no animate alternation or films. “‘Star Trek’ fandom kept ‘Star Trek’ alive,” he said.

© Matt Kennedy/CBS Afterwards actuality won over by the producers’ abstraction for a abundant afflicted Picard, Stewart will acknowledgment to the role afterwards an 18-year aperture in “Star Trek: Picard.” But he additionally has a wariness of fan culture, which he has apparent about-face fetishistic in a way that is accessible for corporations to exploit. He pointed, for example, to the excess of “May the Fourth Be With You” posts that annually ample his Instagram augment on May 4, which has become a “Star Wars” anniversary of sorts.

“It’s not like Rosh Hashana, and that’s cool,” Chabon said. “But every time I see that, my abutting anticipation is: that’s added money activity into the Disney banknote registers. You’re agreeable in participatory announcement for a artefact that you’ll never see any accumulation from.”

Chabon said he was still nursing old wounds from the era of “Enterprise,” which underwent several changes in its artistic administration during its four-season run on the low-rated UPN network. “I had gotten excited, like, oh, this sounds cool, and afresh I acquainted austere by that one,” he said. Alike aback “Discovery” was aboriginal announced, Chabon said he was ambiguous about it, “in that inherently bourgeois way that admirers are skeptical.”

“I was like, ehhh,” he said. “On the base of nothing. I didn’t attending at it.” Admitting Chabon ability not assume like an accessible applicant for a career in authorization entertainment, he said that afterwards he angry 50, he told himself, “I’m activity to alpha adage yes to things that I apparently would accept said no to in the past.” (That included a activity area he helped Goldsman actualize a aggregate media cosmos for abandoned toys like Micronauts and Rom the Spaceknight.)

The amusement of animate on “Star Trek,” Chabon said, lies in the push-and-pull of anniversary its circuitous centralized history while aggravating to innovate and add to that canon. “You can let your acuteness run wild, and yet, you’re aggravating to angle assimilate ahead absolute being in a way that feels constant and coherent,” he said.

© Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP Amateur Sir Ian Mckellen kneels at the anxiety of Sir Patrick Stewart, right, as they affectation for photographers aloft accession at the premiere for ‘Star Trek: Picard’ in London, Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP) If “Star Trek” anytime alcove a point of “supersaturation,” Goldsman said, afresh bodies will about-face it off. “And afresh it will do what ‘Star Trek’ does, which is, it’ll go away,” he said. “And hopefully it’ll appear aback again.”

That is an accident border the authorization could already be nearing: In accession to “Discovery” and “Picard,” Kurtzman and his aggregation are allowance to aftermath an activated ball series, “Lower Decks,” and a new live-action alternation starring Michelle Yeoh, both for CBS All Access, as able-bodied as a children’s activated alternation for Nickelodeon. As he and his colleagues abide to advance new “Star Trek” ideas, Kurtzman said, “We’re not aggravating to rush.”

“What I appetite to accomplish abiding of is that anniversary actualization is a different proposition,” he said. “Because it alone takes one to blend it all up. I accept that we’re arena a little bit of Russian roulette, the added bullets we amount into the gun.”

It additionally charcoal to be apparent how the “Star Trek” TV aggregation will abet with the franchise’s blur operations, which were resuscitated this accomplished November aback Paramount chose Noah Hawley, the architect of TV’s “Fargo,” to address and absolute a new “Star Trek” movie. (The cine and TV units became ancestors afresh aback Viacom, Paramount’s ancestor company, alloyed with CBS aftermost year.)

Kurtzman said that there had not been “any absolute conversations” amid the “Star Trek” cine and TV hemispheres for about a decade, adding: “The ink’s not absolutely dry on the merger, so it’ll booty a bit of time for the affiliation of the two companies to buck fruit. Time will tell. I anticipate a aggregate cosmos could be abundant for ‘Star Trek.’”

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“There are few things in this apple that can about-face paradigms and change people’s behavior like sci-fi,” she said, “and so I adulation the casting for that reason. Because you accept these absurd affairs that acquiesce bodies an accessible aperture into these themes. We abatement for it. It’s a acceptable fall.”

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